(A Spiritual Awakening & Rebirth — Her Eyes Are Upon You)

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 weeks.

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.



Humility is that low, sweet root from which all heavenly virtues shoot
Thomas Moore (1779-1852).