SWEET POTATOES GROW FROM MOTHER
(A Spiritual Awakening & Rebirth Her Eyes Are Upon
Sweet potatoes are not grown from seeds, but rather from
transplants or vine cuttings. Transplants (12" to 18" sections) are
also called slips and are grown from mother roots (seed potatoes). That
is, regular sweet potatoes which are planted into long narrow beds after
the danger of frost, usually between mid-March through the end of April.
Believe it or not, during the months they are held in storage they are considered
to be asleep -- but are very much alive. Presprouting or "growing your own
slips" is also referred to as "waking up" the sweet potatoes.
To start growing your own slips, simply select a few sweet
potatoes from your local grocery store. However, there is the possibility
of disease being present (see below). It is possible to grow as many
as two bushels of sweet potatoes with sprouts taken from just two or three
sweet potatoes. Be sure to pick sweet potatoes that are firm and unblemished.
There are about 50 eyes on a medium sweet potato and each one may produce
a sprout. Slips are easy to grow and by doing so you can save time and money.
In addition, a good start reduces transplanting shock and helps them develop
a healthy crown of leaves and well-developed root system.
Presprout the sweet potatoes by placing them on top of the
water heater beforehand to hasten the growing process. Handle the sweet potatoes
carefully at all times. Rough handling after presprouting can cause them
to rot. Lay the sweet potatoes on their sides in no more than 2" of moist
dirt. It's alright if a few sprouts show through the soil. Cover the sprouts
with clear plastic sheets (clear works better for northern gardners).
The plastic will hold in the moisture and heat which helps the seed potatoes
to sprout. If the weather is favorable, plants can be produced in about 4
Another way to grow slips is to stick toothpicks into the
midsections of small, healthy sweet potatoes, then submerge them halfway
in a jar of water and place in a sunny location. Again, placing the sweet
potatoes on top of the water heater beforehand will hasten the growing process.
Still another way to grow slips would be to submerge the sweet potato
halfway into a pot of moistened vermiculite or potting soil. Add warm water
periodically, never allowing the sweet potato to dry out, but be sure not
to over water.
The purchase of seed potatoes or plants from a certified seed
or plant grower will help to ensure you of a good start. Sweet potatoes won't
grow in cold soil, so there's no point in planting them until the soil has
warmed up to at least 70 degrees. Sweet potatoes don't mind poor soil quality
or a shortage of rain. Insect damage is rarely a problem. After planting
the gardner must keep a close eye on his plants to protect them against insects,
weeds or cold temperatures.