Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Starting sweet potato slips

 In the Basement

It's time to start sweet potato slips!  I usually start them the end of February because it takes a while for them to grow.  Also, we have such a short growing season that you want a nice good sized plant to put out in the garden so it can get growing quickly.  

To start, you need a sweet potato.  I go to the Moscow Food Co-op to get my sweet potatoes.  I got 3 different kinds this year...garnet, purple and jewel.  I have tried a white flesh sweet potato the past couple of years but have not had much luck in getting it to sprout/grow.  Last year, I only got purple sweet potatoes to sprout so we had some purple sweet potatoes!  
First you have to get the sweet potato to sprout.  The idea is pretty simple, you cut the sweet potato in half and then stick toothpicks in it and hang in a jar of water.  Kind of like a second grade science experiment.  Then, you wait..

After a couple weeks, you will start to see little sprouts growing out of the sweet potato.  See the purple sweet potatoes on the right in this pic.  This is from last year....
Once the sprouts get about 6 inches long, you actually just twist them off at the base and put them into a different jar of water.  I usually put some waxed paper over the top of the jar, then poke a hole in the waxed paper, and stick the spout through so the bottom is in the water and the leaves are above the waxed paper.  Sorry, I don't have a pic of this.
Then, you wait a couple of weeks and the sprouts will start to grow their own roots.  When they have a good amount of roots on them, I take them out of the water jar and plant them in soil.  I keep them in the house until it gets warm enough to put them outside.  At the beginning of May, if the weather is nice, I start to put them outside to harden off.  I usually have to bring them back inside at night.  You do NOT want to leave them out if it is going to be close to freezing at night.  They will die!   
Plant them outside when the danger of frost has passed.  This is the end of May for Moscow, Idaho area.
They grew nicely out back in the garden but the tubers were really small!
I had planted some in front of our house where there is more sun and they did much better but the ground was really hard and I couldn't dig some of them out really well.  This is what I got...
To store sweet potatoes long term, you need to cure them and this involves high humidity and high heat for a couple of weeks.  We do not have these conditions here in the fall.  Therefore, I pretty much made mashed sweet potatoes and froze it into individual bags so that we could just take one of the bags out for special occasions.  Here I took the mashed sweet potatoes and added an egg and then piped them out into "flower" shapes and baked them for Valentine's dinner.  
Henry made me some raised beds to grow the sweet potatoes in this year in the space that gets the most sun and heat.  They are only 8 inches tall but I think this will help a lot for growing sweet potatoes.  Here is Allen packing down the compost so I can add more on top later...
That's it!  Really, it is not too difficult and there is more than one way to make your own sweet potato sprouts but I find this way to be pretty easy.  It's not too late to start your own sprouts!

Have an eggcellent day!

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