Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sweet Potatoes


This year I want to try growing sweet potatoes.  I don’t have a bed allocated to them so my plan is to grow them in pots and/or straw bales – I haven’t really worked out the details yet.

The first step when growing sweet potatoes is, of course, to get your hands on some slips (little shoots that sprout from mature sweet potatoes).  I looked into ordering named varieties, but they were either sold in large quantities or the shipping costs were too high for the small amount that I needed.  So my next thought was to get an organic sweet potato from the grocery store and grow my own slips.  Organic is usually suggested because non-organic sweets could have either a waxy coating or been sprayed with a sprout inhibitor.

Only thing was I couldn’t find organic sweet potatoes.  This is not necessarily a problem, however, as sweet potatoes are such a long storing veg, that many of the non-organic potatoes are neither sprayed nor waxed.  Both Daphne and Mark posted recently about successfully using regular, non-organic sweet potatoes from the grocer.

I just happened to come across a sweet potato display the other day that caught my eye because it said that they were a “Product of Ontario” – not a sight normally seen in early March.  So at least I knew that these were a variety that could be successfully grown here.  Then I examined the potatoes – they definitely did not have a waxy coating on them.  And then I saw this on one of them:

Not sure if this is a sprout or root, but hopefully it means that this potato was not treated
& will produce some slips for me
 
I decided to take my chances.  Once I got it home, I did the old toothpick trick and the potato now sits on my south facing kitchen windowsill.


Sweet Potato in the Morning Sun
 
According to my notes, I should be starting my sweet potatoes at the end of March.  The only thing is that I have no idea what variety this is and I’ve seen other bloggers comment that they start different varieties at different times, simply because some take much longer to produce slips than others.  So I decided to get it going right away, just in case this one turned out to be a slow poke.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

18 comments:

  1. I took the first slip off my biggest Sweet Potato just today. It is now standing in a jar of water, where I hope it will soon produce roots of its own. So far, so good...!

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    1. How exciting! It's only been a few days & no shoots yet, but I do see a nice white root developing, so I'm feeling optimistic.

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  2. I've never grown sweet potatoes and don't know very much at all about growing them so I shall enjoy following along and seeing how yours do.

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    1. I really enjoy trying new things - and there certainly is no lack of those when you're a gardener!

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  3. Good luck. And may I suggest a pot? Sweet potatoes really need heat. Straw bales probably insulate too well to get hot during the day. A pot would really heat it up more.

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    1. A pot it is! I'll have to pick up a nice, big black one at the garden center...if I'm lucky, I may be able to score some free used pots that trees normally come in.

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  4. A large plastic container from the dollar store or the hardware store would work well, after cutting some holes in the bottom.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Norma - I'll have to give the $/hardware store a look.

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  5. Hi Margaret, I tried putting the sweet potato in water once but was not successful. Haven't tried since. Wishing you much success! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy! Perhaps you had one of those sprayed potatoes that didn't sprout? If you really like sweet potatoes, it may be worth giving it another go.

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  6. Will be interesting to see how they do. I thought about growing them in a container, but maybe not this year. I'll watch for your results.

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    1. Well, I do have some root growth, but no shoots developing yet. Have no idea what the timeframe is for that, so now I'm just waiting and giving that potato the old once over every day (sometimes twice!) hoping to see something growing up top.

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  7. Sounds like you well on the way to a sweet potato crop! I think finding one that grows there is a big plus. And one with a sprout is even better. I can hold the slips for a long time in water, or potted up in soil if need be. And you can always take a cutting from a leggy slip and root that. I've done that to make more slips when a variety wasn't being generous enough with its sprouts. I think a black pot is a great idea. Many folks around here even use black plastic for growing sweet potatoes, though I have found we have usually plenty of heat. I will be looking forward to hearing more about your sweet potato adventures!

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    1. Thanks for all of the great advice! Black plastic is actually a great idea if I can't find a black pot that is large enough... or cheap enough ;)

      I've been examining that little sprout, and I think it's growing, although so slowly that it's difficult to tell. I compared it with the sprout photo above and the top bit looks different now, like it is developing tiny leaves instead of just being smooth...all of a sudden, I'm feeling more optimistic that this may indeed work! Good thing I took that photo or I would not have thought there was any changes at all.

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  8. Well, good on you - this is very exciting! For me as well as you ... if it turns out to work, I'll be looking next spring for grown in Ontario sweet potatoes myself!

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    1. Keeping my fingers crossed. It was actually quite a fluke that I found them - I happened to be out of town at a family function & they needed some more pop, so I headed to the local grocery store & there they were - and yes, I did get very quizzical looks when I came back with pop and a potato ;) I have yet to see any Ontario grown ones in my local stores.

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  9. How nice! I tried, but failed two years ago. Last year, I had some vines from the garden I saved and that worked well. I think I must be the only person that has no luck starting them in water.
    Sometimes I think there is no hope for me-LOL!
    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Sue. I guess you just have to do what works for you...even in this short time gardening I'm already doing certain things that aren't necessarily the norm, but hey, they work for me, so that's really what counts. I hope you are enjoying the much improved weather lately!

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