The results are in! We now know how to get big results when growing sweet potatoes. A while back I posted How to Start Sweet Potatoes At Home where I tried three methods of starting sweet potatoes at home, one of which I had already had success with. Now we know which ones give big results. It is exciting to share more information on growing happy sweet potatoes, fairly inexpensively.
What we did
For full details on the methods we used, read How to Start Sweet Potatoes At Home. To summarise here, we placed whole or cut sweet potatoes in jars with some water. The jars were then placed in a warm location with access to sunlight.
It took just two weeks to get sprouts like these on our sweet potatoes. These are the start of “slips” that we plant to grow sweet potatoes. The whole sweet potatoes sprouted first.
We let the “sprouts” grow to around 4 inches tall.
You can see that where the sweet potatoes were underwater roots began to form and sprouts were sometimes connected to them. Those could be removed and planted directly in the soil when large enough.
For sprouts that did not have roots, we remove them by carefully pinching them off at the base and placing them in a jar of water in a light and warm location. Several slips can be placed in the same jar.
Put clean water in the jar every day or so. Do not ever let it dry out. After a few days, roots start to form.
You want to let the roots grow for a while. Then the plants can be moved into the garden.
Growing Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes like warm weather and take about 120 days to grow from transplant. You need to plant after the last frost is done and the ground is warm, which in our area is usually the end of May to the beginning of June. It allows me to harvest my sweet potatoes around the end of September, very early October to be cured and ready for Thanksgiving!
Tips for Growing
- Plant well after the last frost in Spring, when the ground is warm, ensuring plenty of growing time (120 days).
- Loosen ground to 12″ which helps with growth and harvest.
- Space plants 12″-24″ apart – I usually split the difference. More space will yield slightly larger roots.
- Mulch to ensure the bed stays weed free and to help with moisture control.
- Sweet potatoes are a vining plant so leave room between rows for vines.
Which Starting Method worked best?
We found that using whole sweet potatoes to start the slips gave the biggest results and healthiest slips, thus the best yields from the happiest plants.
The third starting method we used, putting a sweet potato into a bag and keeping it in a warm but dark location did not work at all. I think it was too dry in our house and they needed more moisture.
In total, our yields were 47 pounds of sweet potatoes at a cost of around $3 as we only had to buy our starting sweet potatoes and we got many slips from just a few. We used jars and toothpicks we already had at home and utilized our row garden to good effect. We have also grown these in raised garden beds but ensure the soil is light and airy or harvesting can be tricky.
I highly recommend trying this yourself if you have a long enough growing season for these warm weather-loving plants.