QUESTION: What are sweet potato slips? I saw them mentioned in an article about growing sweet potatoes, but I don’t know what they actually are. – Rebecca W
ANSWER: Sweet potato slips are sprouts from a sweet potato that have been rooted. This is necessary to grow sweet potatoes as they don’t come from traditional seeds.
If you’re interested in growing your own sweet potato slips, there are two popular methods. Before we get started learning about the methods, it’s important to know what kind of sweet potatoes work for this task.
In most cases, you should start slips from an organic sweet potato. It’s less-likely that organic potatoes have been sprayed with anti-sprouting chemicals.
Also, think about how many sweet potato slips you need before starting the sprouting process. One sweet potato can produce up to a dozen sprouts.
Now that you have these considerations noted, let’s discuss how to sprout sweet potatoes. The first method is to sprout a sweet potato in water.
This takes a little longer than the second method, but for some, they prefer it. Begin by placing a sweet potato in a jar of water.
The entire potato shouldn’t be submerged. Suspend it over the water by placing toothpicks around the potato. The toothpicks will hang on the jar and stop the entire potato from falling into the water.
Be sure to place the rooting end (the narrow end of the potato) towards the water. Place the jar in a warm location where it will receive ample sunlight.
If you don’t have this naturally in your home, place the jar on a warming pad and under a grow light. Change the water in the jar weekly.
It can take six or more weeks for the potato to begin sprouting. Once the sprouting process begins, don’t remove the sprouts until they’re around six inches long.
The next method to sprouting sweet potatoes is in soil. Many people prefer this method because it only takes a month to a month and a half for the potato to begin forming sprouts.
You’ll need an aluminum, disposable lasagna pan that can be located on most baking aisles of a grocery store. Be sure to purchase the kind with an attachable lid.
Fill the pan with soil and poke drainage holes in the bottom of it. Moisten the soil with a spray bottle of water. Then place the sweet potatoes in the pan to where they’re half covered with dirt.
Place the lid beneath the pan to catch any water which may drain. Keep the soil consistently moist by misting it regularly with a spray bottle of water.
Ensure the pan is in a warm location with plenty of light. Again, you can use a grow light and a warming pad to provide these conditions.
In a couple of weeks, you’ll notice the potatoes beginning to form roots. In a few more weeks, they’ll form sprouts.
Don’t remove the sprouts until they’re six inches long.
Regardless of which method you choose, the process is the same once the sprouts are of length.
Remove the sprouts by twisting them loose from the potato. You may also cut them. Don’t go beneath the soil to remove the sprouts. You only want what is at soil-level and higher.
Once you’ve removed the sprouts, remove any leaves at the bottom of them. Place the sprouts in a glass jar partially filled with water.
Place the jar in a sunny window and let the sprouts root in water. This can take up to a month, so be sure to change the water weekly.
After the roots of the sprouts are approximately four inches long, it’s time to plant the sweet potato slips.
Be sure the threat of frost is over in your area and the temperatures are at or above 60-degrees Fahrenheit both day and night.
The slips should be planted a foot apart and four inches deep in the soil. Water the slips regularly to help their roots become established in their new growing location.
This is how you can go about sprouting sweet potatoes and making your own sweet potato slips.
If you’d like to grow your own sweet potatoes, take these tips into consideration and pick the method that best suits your level of gardening skill.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to grow a large amount of sweet potatoes with a smaller financial investment.