How to Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes at Home
Growing your own sweet potatoes is not as difficult as some may believe, though it is quite different from growing a regular potato. In fact, sweet potatoes themselves are not actually potatoes at all, as they belong to the morning glory family of plants. Many gardeners and plant enthusiasts grow sweet potatoes as ground cover or use their different color flowers as ornamental cover.
In order to grow sweet potatoes, you will need what is referred to as "slips." You have two different methods by which you can obtain these. The next step of this article will explain how you obtain your slips from your sweet potatoes.
Step 1: Growing Your Slips
Making sweet potato slips is pretty easy. There are a couple of different methods that you can use to do this.
The first method to growing slips involves suspending the bottom or the pointed end of a sweet potato up and the more rounded end downward. To do this:
- Acquire three toothpicks and use them to suspend the potato over a glass of water. The water must come to about halfway up the potato, where it will stay suspended for several weeks.
- While the potato is suspended for several weeks, change the water periodically.
- After four weeks, you should see small green sprouts growing out of the top of your potato. These will be your slips.
The second method to growing sweet potato slips involves using soil. To do this:
- Take your potato and cover it with a nice medium potting soil.
- Water it and let it grow.
- After two to three weeks, you should see small green shoots sprouting from the potato. These will be your slips.
Step 2: Planting Your Slips
Once your slips have grown out to an average of 4 to 6 inches, you want to gently pull these away from the sweet potato. You will then put these in water (2 inches or less) for two to three days while they form roots. Once the roots are formed on your potato slips, you will then be ready to plant.
Planting your sweet potato slips is quite easy. First, you need a good, fluffy potting soil to plant in. If the soil is not fertile, you'll need to add fertilizer per the instructions and a good-quality compost, as potatoes are heavy feeders.
Plant your sweet potato slips 10 to 12 inches apart. If you're planting in rows, make sure the rows are spaced 24 inches apart. Plant the sweet potatoes as deep as 6 inches, leaving the top two sets of leaves uncovered, and begin watering.
Step 3: Harvesting and Curing
Now that we've chosen our potato, grown our sweet potato slips, planted our sweet potatoes, and waited three long months, it's finally time to harvest. To harvest your potatoes, you will need:
- a shovel or spade
- a container to store your sweet potatoes
Dig up the sweet potatoes gingerly, as they are still very tender and could easily be damaged during the harvest process.
After digging up your potatoes, you will want to lay them out evenly in the sun for about two hours while they dry. (Note: NEVER wash newly harvested sweet potatoes. Only wash sweet potatoes before preparing to eat them.)
Store the potatoes in a warm, dark place with sufficient humidity while they cure. The curing process usually takes anywhere from one to two weeks. After which, you can store them in a dark, cool place, where they will keep for several months before eating.
Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest root vegetables that we can eat. So if you like eating fresh, wholesome vegetables, give this a try. You won't be disappointed! Happy gardening!
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