Monday, 23 April 2012

Starting Sweet Potato Slips

Sweet Potatoes Half Submerged in Jars, So They Will Form Slips for Rooting

We have decided not to send away for sweet potato slips this year, but to try starting some ourselves. I don't believe it's difficult. It's the sort of thing you used to do in grade school as a science project.

Stick 3 or 4 toothpicks into a model sweet potato; the sort of sweet potato you would like to grow - I suggest you get one grown locally so that you know it will mature in an Ontario summer - and stick the end into a glass of water or a jar, so that the sweet potato is half in and half out.

There is a right end and a wrong end. A little examination should show which end is inclined to sprout shoots and which end is inclined to sprout roots. That would be blunt end up, pointy end down pretty much. Some of our sweet potatoes were obligingly sending out a few buds to help make it clear which end was up. Now we will keep them on a warm, sunny windowsill as they grow.

When the sprouts are about 6" long we will carefully break them off and put them into a glass or jar of water, half in and half out until they form roots. Then they can be potted up or planted out, whenever it is warm enough; probably the beginning of June.

This is the first time we've done this. I'll keep you posted on how it works, but if you want to do it too I'd say now is the time to get started.

UPDATE: May 28, 2012. Next stage has begun


Crafty Gardener said...

I have tried this with limited success, but it was a fun project and I ended up with some small sweet potatoes.

bluelacedredhead said...

I have Ken Allan's book, Sweet Potatoes for the Home Garden and I attended one of his workshops (approx 10 years ago now). I had a good sized patch showing great promise until a young buck ate every vine. I still got a bushel of one variety and a half of another but often wondered what could have been had the deer not raided my garden?

Ferdzy said...

Yeah, Crafty, I have to say sweet potatoes are a somewhat iffy proposition around here. Last years crop was very small. Still, I hope we have learned a few things and will do better this year (and that the weather will co-operate).

Bluelaced, deer are the worst. THE WORST. And I am totally envious that you got to meet Ken Allen. I do want to get that book myself at some point too.