Cappers Farmer Blogs > Old Dog, New Tricks

How to Start Sweet Potato Slips

Mary ConleyDear friends,

Although it is early February, for some of us it is time to kickstart our gardening. Usually, for me, this only means planting onions from seed, but for the first time, I’m also going to start sweet potato plants from scratch. Well, from sweet potatoes!

What a proud mother/grandmother I am to be able to get my information about starting and growing something from my daughter's, blog called The Chicken Dumpling Gang. Amy and our granddaughter, Molly, not only grew their sweet potatoes, but first started the slips from the previous year’s harvest. Then Molly turned it into a 4-H project, receiving a blue ribbon.

I started on February 3 using sweet potatoes that my son, Perry, grew last year. He got them from Amy, so they are a family affair. If you purchase yours from the supermarket, be sure to buy organic or they may have been coated to prevent sprouting. I used half gallon jars filled with water, and skewered the sweet potatoes close to one end so most of it is submerged. I didn’t have skewers so my inventive husband brought up a box of plastic Pick-Up-Sticks!

sweet potatoes 

Side Track: Larry, my husband, is always nice enough to read my posts before I send them in. He doesn’t find many or all of my mistakes, but I feel safer knowing he’ll catch something important before I completely embarrass myself. Anyway, when he gets to something like “my inventive husband,” he gets stuck on that phrase like a scratched record (if you’re old enough to know what that means) and reads that part over and over until I yell at him! He never tires of it! From now on, you can imagine that whenever I say something nice about him!

Back to the sweet potatoes. First you will see roots growing downward, and then shoots growing upward toward the air and sunshine. Those shoots or slips will be the future plants, so when they get to be 6 to 12 inches, break them off and put them in water to grow roots. It will take about two months before the slips are ready to be planted in dirt, and the soil should be at least 8 inches deep. Remember that the vines will sprawl, but they will also be beautiful! Amy and Molly harvested 40 pounds last year off just a few slips started from two sweet potatoes.

kitchen sink 

Keeping watch!

Yes, you can skip the above directions and buy plants at your local nursery, but I’m going to watch this amazing process as I do the dishes, and become sustainable in another area at the same time. Happy gardening!

Another side track: I love it when people leave comments. On my previous post, “Happy Happy Happy.” ASantarelli commented that what makes her happy is sitting down to a meal where some of the food comes from their own acreage, and a fellow blogger, Nebraska Dave, said the thing that makes him the happiest is to share his produce with others so that they can know how REAL food tastes. Leave a comment today and make me even happier!