Thursday, February 18

Gardening Experiments: Starting Slips from Sweet Potatoes

Of the many new gardening 'items' I am attempting this year - growing sweet potatoes is one of them. It started out with myself YouTube-ing how to grow potatoes in containers (which I am also attempting this year, hopefully), and that lead to post of people growing sweet potatoes.

Now, since sweet potatoes don't really grow the same as potatoes - at all - potatoes you just dump in the ground and hill around them, sweet potatoes you plant the vine and it vines along the ground. The first trick to growing sweet potatoes is to get your hands on "slips" - the starter plants. Since I wasn't sure where to order slips, and then only found one place that actually sold them, and have never been a fan of buying real plants in the mail...ramble ramble... I thought I would try growing them myself. All the people on YouTube did it and so have a bunch of 10 year old kids in elementary school, so I should be able to. Hopefully.

Anyways, to make your own slips, supposedly you suspend your sweet potatoes in water for a couple weeks, and then growth will start. It's all really reminiscent of a elementary school science experiment. You make sure the rooting end is down, and the growing / vining end up! The growing end will be the end where it was pulled from the vine originally, and the rooting end will be, typically, more narrow and will not have the nubbin from being pulled off the vine.

Then you wait. Once your leafy growth is so long / high, you clip it off, and put it in water to allow root growth on the ends before planting outside. All sounds easy peasy...

So I went to the grocery store, and I bought myself two sweet potatoes - as you see above. I did read warnings that grocery store sweet potatoes may not provide slips if they have been treated with anything, or if they had been stored below a certain temperature, etc and etc. Other websites have said this is bogus. I'm going with the experimental route - if I don't notice any sort of growth on these guys in two weeks then I'm going to change my game plan. I started now, with all this snow on the ground, because like all good gardening things - it takes time to grow. Plus I want some extra time in case these don't grow.

I'm still not sure where I will plant them. Containers or in the garden or flower beds are both options. They are vining ground cover - so maybe in a vegetable based flower bed to prevent weeds. We will see. From what I saw in the videos, since we are short season here (compared to... let's say California, hehe), there will only really be formation of tublers (sweet potatoes) where the slip is. There won't be time for the slip to grow long and re-root pieces of itself and grow sweet potatoes. I should actually maybe try preventing that to direct all the energy to the main slips.

Now, all this googling did lead me to growing ginger!!! Now that I can grow in a pot as well...hrmm...

Are you growing anything different this year? Any garden experiments?

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