Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious addition to any home garden. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t related to regular potatoes; they belong to the morning glory family and grow from slips, which are stems that grow into roots. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of starting your own sweet potato slips from store-bought potatoes, allowing you to grow your preferred varieties inexpensively.
Choosing Your Sweet Potato
When selecting store-bought sweet potatoes, consider opting for varieties beyond the common orange types found in regular supermarkets. Asian markets often offer a diverse selection with unique flavors and colors. Varieties like Murasaki or Okinawan sweet potatoes can provide a delightful twist with their purple skin and flavorful white or purple flesh.
Timing Is Crucial
Understanding the timing for planting sweet potato slips is crucial. They thrive in warm, humid conditions but are frost-sensitive. Plan to start the process 60 to 90 days before planting them in the ground, allowing for sufficient growth time. In regions with frost, wait until the nights consistently remain above 50°F (10°C) before transplanting the slips.
Starting the Slips
Begin by creating an ideal environment for the sweet potato slips. Use a moisture-retaining potting mix and place store-bought sweet potatoes halfway into the mix. Ensure the potting mix is adequately moist but not waterlogged. Cover the container with a slightly cracked lid to maintain humidity while allowing fresh air circulation.
With patience and proper care, the sweet potatoes will root, producing slips – the stems that will grow into the vines. These slips contain nodes, the points from which roots and new vines sprout. As the slips develop, they can be separated into individual cuttings, each containing nodes and roots.
Planting the Slips
Once the slips have sufficiently rooted, they are ready for planting. Choose an evening with mild weather to transplant them into prepared planting holes. Space the slips about one foot apart to allow adequate room for growth. Water them thoroughly to ensure moisture retention during the initial establishment period.
Growth and Maintenance
As the sweet potato slips take hold in the ground, monitor their progress. Ensure they receive consistent moisture, especially in the early stages of growth. The slips will establish themselves, developing new leaves and roots as they adapt to their new environment.
Growing sweet potato slips from store-bought potatoes is a rewarding process that yields an abundance of this nutritious tuber. With proper timing, care, and attention to detail, one can harness the productivity of a single sweet potato, generating dozens of slips for a bountiful harvest. Experiment with different varieties and enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own supply of sweet potatoes for your culinary delights.
Remember, each step in this process contributes to the success of your sweet potato crop. With dedication and a bit of patience, you’ll soon be enjoying the fruits – or rather, the tubers – of your labor.