Gardening

Have fun growing sweet potato slips

It’s a little early but, I’ve already started growing some sweet potato plants that I will use as slips — short shoots used for planting into the garden.

It’s not always easy to find quality sweet potato slips to plant when you need them. In years past I’ve had to visit several garden centers before finally tracking them down. Calling ahead doesn’t always seem to help either.

The best way to be sure you have sweet potato slips to plant is to grow your own. It’s really a very simple process.

I’ve seen all kinds of contraptions that people have come up with to grow sweet potato slips, most of them involve suspending a sweet potato root over water. All you really need to do is to place a sweet potato root into a container of damp potting mix ¬†about 2 inches deep. Keep the container in a warm spot — 75 degrees F — and be sure it stays moist. An electric heat mat helps if you don’t have a warm spot.

This sweet potato was in storage from the year before last. It still sprouted strong shoots for growing slips.

This sweet potato was in storage from the year before last. It still sprouted strong shoots for growing slips.

After a couple of weeks, the sweet potato will begin to root and produce sprouts. Pull the new sprouts off of the sweet potato once they reach eight inches or so in length. They should have a developing root system at that stage and are ready for planting.

It’s a fun way to grow sweet potatoes from scratch year after year.

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.