Friday, March 13, 2015

Sweet potatoes taking root

In Master Gardener class, I learned that sweet potatoes are super easy to grow. That usually means something won't work out for me. But I decided to at least try growing them.
Sweet potatoes are a hot-weather crop. You can make your own "slips," or little cuttings that you will plant in your garden. Start them six to eight weeks ahead of planting time. Simply get a sweet potato from the grocery store, cut it in half, hang it in a jar using toothpicks, and have the water come up over the bottom (cut side). I remember doing this in elementary school.
Within a few weeks you will have sprouts in the top and roots in the
bottom. Let them keep growing and make sure they get some light.
With any root vegetable you absolutely must have deep, loose soil. This is how I've messed up in the past. It's best to dig up the soil at least 8 inches deep and at the same time dig in some rich compost. Then on top of that, create ridges another 8 inches tall. Ridges should be 12 inches wide and you can flatten them out on top. Simply poke the rooted ends of the slips into the soil about six inches apart. Within a few weeks they will take off.
Here the sweet potatoes are just starting to spread. Choose your sweet potato plot carefully. Sweet potatoes are Plants That Take Over the World, so create a finite space for them. Mine are in a deep bed at the edge of the garden so if I need to, I can grow them up a trellis on that side. 

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