How to Grow Sweet Potatoes- in 5 Easy Steps
I’ve never run across a sweet potato I didn’t like; Sweet Potato Fries, Sweet Potato Casserole, Sweet Potatoes and Beets, Sweet Potato Noodles, Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows, Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Quiche, Sweet Potato Butter, Sweet Potato Chips– you name it SWEET and I like it *insert Bubba Gump voice here*! What I really like about sweet potatoes is their versatility, affordability, and ease of growing.
The easiest vegetable I’ve ever grown, hands down, has to be the sweet potato. Of course, I live on the coast of South Carolina in the heart of Hades and have mediocre soil so that does give me a little advantage with growing this vegetable, but I do believe anyone can have success with growing them.
I call the sweet potato the beginner vegetable because it is perfect for any color thumb; green, black, brown or new. This is also a great vegetable to grow with your children for a school project or 4-H.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Step #1
Sweet potatoes are grown from sweet potato slips. You can make your own slips easily at home by following these simple instructions.
Find a nice, medium size sweet potato (organic if possible) that are starting to sprout (see picture) and grab a cup of water that is big enough to fit the sweet potato.
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Step#2-Growing The Slips
Place your sweet potato in a cup of chlorine-free water with the sprout side down in the cup. Make sure 1/4- 1/2 of the potato sticking outside the water (picture shown is after the potato has been growing about 4 weeks) and put on a windowsill or a shelf for 4-8 weeks
Change the water a couple of times a week with purified water
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes Step #3-Separating the Slips
When your potato starts to grow a plant on the topside and the roots look well established in the cup, it is time to separate the slips.
Step #4- Removing The Slips from the Sweet Potato
- With a sharp knife, cut each root (slip) free from the potato.
- Be careful not to cut the stem or roots.
- Include a little of the potato when you are separating the slip from the potato
Step #5 Planting The Sweet Potato Slips
Once you have your slips cut, it’s time to plant them. Plant slips directly in the soil, planter, hanging basket, bucket, or a pot. As long as you have good drainage and follow the growing tips below, you can grow sweet potatoes pretty much anywhere.
Growing Sweet Potatoes In A Container
I’ve had a lot of success with growing sweet potatoes in a container and hanging basket. I’ve always thought they make a lovely plant, even if you didn’t want to harvest the potatoes. The sweet potato leaves are edible and they stay green all summer long, making them a beautiful hanging basket.
That is it, you can grow sweet potatoes in 5 easy steps!
The best part is, the cost of this easy to grow vegetable could be free if you ask around, I’m sure someone you know has a sweet potato already sprouting in their bin somewhere. Free food is the best food.
Bonus Tips for growing sweet potatoes
- Growing sweet potatoes works best in loamy, well-drained soil that is not too rich. Ideally, the pH is between 5.8 and 6.2, although, they will tolerate a more acidic pH to 5.0
- Plant slips 10-12 inches apart and allows room for the vines to grow, they will create their own tropical ground cover.
- It takes about 95 days to harvest.
- Plant your sweet potato slips in Spring/Summer after the soil is nice and warm and all danger of frost is gone, sweet potatoes love the heat.
- As the plant grows, lift the vines off the ground periodically to avoid letting them root. If you allow your vines to root, it will cause your sweet potatoes to be smaller. I have heard fingerling sweet potatoes are all the rave now so maybe that’s a good thing?
- Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow.
- After harvesting, allow your sweet potatoes to cure in a warm dry place for two weeks to increase their sweetness. Sweet potatoes are not sweet right out of the ground but become sweet in a short period of time.
- Once cured, store your potatoes in a cool, dry place- 50-60 degrees is ideal. Do not refrigerate.
- Sweet potato plants make amazing hanging baskets for aesthetic value.
- Sweet potato leaves are edible and nutritious. If you have missed the window to grow sweet potatoes for potato harvest, grow one in a pot or hanging basket and enjoy the leaves in your salad!
Preserving The Harvest
Once you have an abundance of sweet potatoes, you will want to preserve the fruits of your labor. This article from the Purposeful Pantry shows you how to Can, Freeze, Dehydrate and Preserve Sweet Potatoes.
All this sweet potato talk got your mouth watering? I have a wonderful recipe for you to try using your home-grown sweet potatoes. Sweet Potato Quiche! It’s gluten-free and Amazing!
Love Growing Potatoes? We have another great article for you to enjoy about how to grow potatoes- in 5 easy steps!