How to Grow Sweet Potatoes & Slips

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Copyright © 2009 Cherie Kuranko “InkSpot” All Rights Reserved

Start by purchasing 2-3 sweet potatoes from the store or ask a fellow gardener if you could have a couple of their sweet potatoes so you can grow your own sweet potato patch. Growing sweet potatoes in containers seems to be preferred by most gardeners over starting them in soil. It is more interesting to see the roots growing and easier to break off the new slips as they appear.

Container/Water Method of Growing Sweet Potato Slips: 

You can use any container that is large enough for you sweet potato. By using smaller sized sweet potatoes you can fit them easily into a canning jar or plastic cup, but any sized container could be used. Be sure to use mature tubers to grow slips.

Place the whole sweet potato in the container and add water, covering about 1/3 of the bottom of the tuber. Some people poke toothpicks into the sides of the sweet potato, which rest on the rim of the jar or container, to hold it up out of the water and then add water to the desired height.

Place in a sunny, warm location at an average temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Wait for the sweet potato to grow sprouts. Break or cut off the sprouts when they are about 6-8 inches long and place those in another container as you did with the potato or in moist soil. The new slips will then begin to grow roots.

Continue the process until you have enough slips as you desire to plant in the spring.

Moist Soil Method of Growing Sweet Potato Slips:

Using mature tubers, look for eyes on the tubers—much like the eyes you find on seed potatoes.  Cut or divide the sweet potato into smaller pieces with at least 2-3 eyes on each piece.  Plant in warm, moist soil or sand and maintain an 80 degree Fahrenheit temperature. 

The seed tubers should be planted about 2-4 inches deep and about 1 inch apart. You can leave more room between each seed tuber if you plan on letting them grow longer indoors before moving them into your garden.

When the shoots start poking up out of the soil (around 3 weeks), add another 1-2” of light soil and continue to grow. Be sure to keep the soil moist, but not soggy, during the growing processing.  When the shoots reach about 3-4 inches you can reduce your temperature to around 70-75 degrees and continue to grow them for another 3 weeks.

Using the soil method you should have rooted sweet potatoes in about 6 weeks time, however you can start them indoors up to 12 weeks before planting in your garden.

Planting Sweet Potatoes in your Garden:

Sweet potatoes need warm soil to grow well and average about 150 days until harvest time.  Be sure to plant well after all danger of frost has passed. Most gardeners wait at least four weeks after the last spring frost before planting sweet potatoes outdoors. They are very sensitive to frost and cold, so be sure to harden off your sweet potatoes gradually before planting outside.

You can plant in wide mounds and it is best to leave at least 12 inches between each sweet potato so they have plenty of room to grow.  Keep moist and warm during the growing season and you will be eating fresh, sweet potatoes in about 4-5 months.

Harvest before the fall frost and store a couple sweet potatoes as you would potatoes over the winter so you will have mature tubers to grow new starts for next year’s garden.

Sweet potato slips are expensive and not always the nicest looking plants when mail ordered. Save some money and learn to grow them yourself.

You Might Also Be Interested in Learning:

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Ripen Green Tomatoes

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How to Make a Manure Hotbed

Copyright © 2009 Cherie Kuranko “InkSpot” All Rights Reserved

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