Tuesday, May 20, 2014

HOW TO GROW SWEET POTATO SLIPS

Something we've been dying to try at the farm is growing sweet potatoes.  We love them!  We've tried growing regular potatoes in the past but it was difficult and they didn't do well in our climate.  Sweet potatoes however, love the heat so we thought we'd give it a try.  To order sweet potato slips (what the part is called that you plant in the ground), you must place your order early in the season.  We missed it.  What to do, what to do?  We decided to make our own!



First, get some organic sweet potatoes.  Make sure they are organic as regular sweets can be treated with a chemical that inhibits sprouting, which can prevent you from having sweet potato tubers later on down the road.




Cut them in half.  We were only needing a few so we figured two would give us enough slips from the four halves we would get.

We decided to try two methods.  The first was just placing them in a dish of water.  I decided to remove one potato half and root it separately with the toothpick method that most are familiar with.  I just put it in a glass of water, suspended by using toothpicks around the middle.




Then you just sit back and wait, making sure they never dry out.  Change the water every few days and keep it at the same level.  First, roots will start coming out the bottom of the cut side.  Then little buds will start popping out on the surface of the potatoes.  This is the result after about a month.  You can see in the background the one in the glass.  It grew just as well, in fact maybe even did a bit better.  Some of them grew better than others but they were the same two potatoes cut in half.  Go figure. 


Once they have grown a bit, you just break off the sprouts.  They usually just pop out with a bit of the sweet potato flesh on the end leaving a little divot in the potato.  After you've harvested what you want, throw the seed potato away.
How to make sweet potato slips
This is what they look like after you've pulled them from the potatoes.  Congratulations you have "slips"!  These of course are un-rooted slips.  You could put them in soil now as they are, just make sure they are watered regularly.  I think it's best to get some roots on them.  Just stick them in a glass of water and in another week, you'll have roots sprouting out!

Rooting sweet potato slips
Tomorrow...putting them in the soil!

13 comments:

Daphne Gould said...

I've always used the toothpick method, but with a while sweet potato. Mine are ready to root now, but I'm waiting at least until the end of the week. I usually plant on June 1st. Sweet potatoes are harder up north, but they are so good.

Dc said...

That is interesting and probably cheaper. Not sure how sweet potatoes would do over here though, might give them a go one year.

Ranni Moonbeam said...

I had no idea you had to do this. Might be why Mike gave me that odd look when I asked if he'd planted any (last minute). Think I should make a notebook just with gardening info so I can help plan better for next years garden. I tend to spring garden 'wants' on him last minute ... Thanks!

Sue said...

I think I'm the only person in the world that FAILED trying to root them in water.
So, last fall, when I dug my sweet potatoes, I saved a bunch of the vines, put them in water and rooted them. I had nice plants all winter and this spring it was an easy matter of cutting the plants into small sections, rooting them and now they are just waiting for warm weather to go outside. Very easy--and nice if you have a sunny window free all winter that you want a "houseplant" in......

FionaG said...

Thank you for this. I have been considering adding sweet potato to the list and this makes it easy (and cheap). Will have to remember to start early once spring approaches. I am curious about your not being able to grow potatoes though. I think we have very similar weather in spring/summer, hot and humid, but I have no problem growing Kipfler and Desiree potatoes. What do you think is causing a problem?

Kev Alviti said...

Great post on how to do it. Although I think it's too cold over here so it would be something to try in the greenhouse.

Sandy said...

1st Man,

I love sweet potatoes and have grown them in the past. I've never tried your way of creating SP shoots. I just leave the sweet potato in my basket in the kitchen and let the little slips grow, then cut the potato seed up and plant it in soil directly or cover with straw.

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Have you ever juiced a sweet potato and apple? The taste is just awesome!!!

Texan said...

These guys need a LONG season so soon as you can get them in the ground! I did not get any slips grown this year. It will be late before they are ready to dig. Think Fall.
I am determined on the Irish potatoes ... yes our climate makes it hard for sure I agree... but I have been reading on this some. I think what we need to do is plant our Irish potatoes in the fall! late fall. Especially you all being down in the Houston area. But I am going to try it too! I read if you plant them deep.. pile up mulch .. even if the tops freeze it wont kill them so I am reading.. they will continue to grow deep in the ground.. I am going to give it a shot this fall/winter.. see how they do because I too am finding growing them in the spring is a no go. We get to hot to fast...Just make sure they are not in water logged soil for this.

FionaG said...

Yes, this is what we do. We plant our potatoes roughly a week or two before the last frost so that when they start to break through the soil and mulch the tender new shoots aren't burnt. I keep piling the mulch up the plant as it grows, this keeps the plant protected. On days were it is super hot (high 30's and 40's Celsius, I think that is 86+ to 104+ in Fahrenheit), we give them a good watering during the afternoon.

Sandy said...

FionaG,

I've been watering my potato plants (the entire plant from dirt to leaves) twice daily to keep them cool. We have flowers blooming on the plants, I can't wait to harvest when the plants turn brown.

Pam said...

I am growing sweet potatoes for the first time in my oddly cobbled together container garden. But my family has grown potatoes before, and I never, ever heard of cutting off the potato part once they sprouted! Lol - My mom always said they need the nourishment of the piece of potato to help them grow. All I know is, mine are huge and viney and my white potatoes all were excellent when I dug them up last week. I am, however, gardening in South Florida. :)

1st Man said...

Toothpick is what we used to use too. I saw the dish flat side down method in a magazine and thought I'd try it. To be honest, the toothpick method worked just as well. Kind of easier to do it the easy way, ha. They are so good huh? This is our first attempt at the farm, fingers crossed.