I’m not a fan of blogs that give you half-baked posts of how to do something without having an “after” picture to prove its success. But if you would like to grow your own sweet potato slips, you’ve really got to get on it soon. It’s hard to believe with our nutty Iowa weather, but I’m just eight weeks out from planting sweet potatoes.
For reference sake, I’m in a USDA Zone 4/5 ish. Which pretty much means Zone 5 plants will last a few years before dying over the winter. I’ll risk it on $5 clearance lavender, but I’m not investing in a pawpaw tree any time soon.
That translates to starting greens indoors on my birthday (January 31), peas outside on Easter weekend, greens and root crops outside on Earth Day, tomatoes on Mother’s Day, and everything else when school lets out for the summer.
Also, starting sweet potato slips right about now.
It’s simple to do if you know what end is up. Check out this 1913 illustration (Source).
It can be tricky to tell on some sweet potatoes (because both ends kind of have points), but you can see from the illustration they each have a broad end and a most-pointy end. The most-pointed end grows up into a plant and the broad end has the roots.
Put some water in the bottom of a jar or heavy glass, stick a sweet potato in broad side down, and put it in a sunny window. I noticed the first hint of eyes and roots after a week.
Other tutorials will say stab the potatoes with toothpicks to suspend them above the water but I didn’t have any and just plunking them in the water has worked fine so far.
Eventually, vines will start growing from the tops of the potatoes. I will pluck those out and stick them in spoil to get their own roots, and then plant them outside in June.
Remember to just use organic potatoes. Conventionally grown won’t sprout quite the same.
I’ll be back for updates as I…
- Move the slips into plantable pots
- Plant sweet potatoes in my garden and hanging pots
- Harvest TONS of sweet potatoes!