Starting Sweet Potatoes for Your Garden

Taking food, to make food.


Did you know that starting sweet potatoes for planting is a cinch? It just takes time and some attention. Growing your own will save you quite a bit of money in buying starter plants or even just potatoes from the store to eat.


In the past years I have started them by buying an ORGANIC sweet potato from the produce section of the store. Instead of eating it for dinner, I multiplied it into many pounds of potatoes! To do this you put the potato upright in a glass holding it up and secure using toothpicks poked into the sides to hold it by resting the tips on the rim. You want the bottom 1/2 of the potato to be touching the water and put it in the window. Soon the "eyes" will start to sprout then start to grow leaves, then a vine. As the vine grows you gently break it off at the base and stick it into water to grow roots. The potato will continue to grow sprouts and you just keep picking and rooting. This method takes a little maintenance though. You have to keep the potato and sprouts watered and constantly picking off. Not a big deal, but this year I had something new I wanted to try.


You may not know it, but in the summer when you go to the nursery some of the long leafy vines for window boxes ARE sweet potato varieties! They have a beautiful vine that will flower a beautiful flower that resembles a morning glory. They tend to grow out or down and don’t have the tendrils that can climb up. This potato has grown beautiful vines and I think I am going to hang it to be an indoor houseplant. What a cheap beautiful plant and if you have a brown thumb, they are cheap and pretty easy to start over if something happens to it.


At this year's harvest time I still had sweet potatoes stored from the PREVIOUS harvest year! That is an incredible length of time for storage! I decided that instead of getting rid of them and making room for the new, I would keep them and see just how long they would last. I also decided that I was going to take one of them that had quite a few sprouts on it and put it in a pot with dirt and stick it into the window. To me it is much easier to water a potted plant every couple of days, instead of tending multiple containers and keeping up with clipping babies.


So, in this experiment instead of picking off sprouts I will let it grow and be big and beautiful for the winter, then when it is time to root babies, I will just pick some of the length off each vine and clip it into segments and root them. This will give me babies and minimal time to tend them.


Most years I start my potato in January and end up with around 40-50 starts to plant. That means that one potato has now given me 40-50 individual plants that potentially will produce 5 or 6 potatoes each. I spent $5's 3 years ago and its generations are still giving me potato slips with NO extra cost. Just to give you an idea.... in one year, the cost for buying the 40-50 slips would be about $80! That means that if you multiply by 3 years, that one $5 potato has saved me $240! That is quite a return on your investment!


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