Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato vines have traditionally only been grown for food in warmer climates, while mostly only enjoyed as ornamental vines in the cooler north.  Now, due to global warming, more sweet potatoes are also being harvested further north.  These may require a few months to sprout, so it is best to begin indoors in January or soon after. 

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batata) is actually not related to the potato, but it is a family member of the morning glory and moon flower. 

Steps to grow a sweet potato.

1. Slice sweet potato in half lengthwise.  (Or ask your parents to do so, if you are too young to use a knife.) 

2. Poke three toothpicks in the upper half of each piece.

3.  Place sweet potato in a jar of water, and put this on a window sill. 

4.  Leave it there for a few months, adding water as needed.  Be patient, and only throw it away if it gets extremely moldy or rotten.  Try a few in case one does not succeed. 

5.  Eventually several shoots, which we call slips, will grow.  After the slips start to form roots and small leaves, you can detach the slip and plant in a pot with soil.  If the slips only have leaves, you can remove the slips and put them in another jar of water and they will soon grow roots, and then can be potted.  Also, if the slips seem to be growing upside down, then just flip over the sweet potato. 

6.  Place outdoors (or replant if desired) in May when it's warmer outside.  During the hot months, it should grow very quickly, and soon you will have a beautiful sweet potato vine!

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