Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Planting Sweet Potatoes

sweet potato vines

Growing sweet potatoes is pretty standard around these parts.
They've been a staple in my garden for a few years now,
and this year is no different.
It was sensational to learn that not only is the sweet potato the state veg of North Carolina,
but we are also the number one producer of these sweet spuds.
It somehow feels as if I was preparing for this journey back in Florida,
having fairly good success with growing them as a beginning gardener.

Sweet potatoes are grown from slips,
which are vine-like plants grown directly from the spud itself.
They can be purchased,
but this year we decided to venture out and grow our own.
It started right here,
with organic sweet potatoes bought at the grocery store.

The three perfect specimens I picked out of the bin
were brought home and the bottom half was submerged in water.
Empty cans were used here, 
but you could also use plastic or paper cups, or glass jars.
After a few days, the roots will begin to sprout from the bottom
(as shown in the previous picture),
and shoots will start to grow out of the top.
Once I placed the cans on the windowsill of our makeshift greenhouse,
they really started taking off, enjoying the morning sunshine.

When the shoots get about 6 inches long,
they can be transferred to another container filled with water.
They will keep like that for as long as you need,
continuing to drink up the water
until you are ready to plant them.

The planting box was readied.
Big K and I decided to make this growing bin specifically for the sweet potatoes,
and the vines will have the arches to climb.
Here's how we easily constructed this container out of pallets.

There were enough healthy slips to use,

and looking at the root system,
they were more than ready to be transferred and given a lot more room to grow.

Into the box went a layer of straw
(mostly to contain the soil),
then some good potting soil to which I added perlite
to ensure good drainage.

Another addition was some worm castings from our worm bin,
along with a few new residents.
I've been introducing worms and castings to most everything planted recently.
I figure it can't hurt.

Look at those healthy roots!

The slips were planted and nestled in the box.
Sweet potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow,
requiring very little from the gardener.
With regular watering and maybe some fertilizer or compost added
once in a while,
they will begin their ascent up the trellis.

Not only is the gardener gifted with a wonderful taste treat,
but the climbing vines will produce a morning-glory type purple flower
for enjoying until harvest time.
Incidentally, the leaves of this crop are edible.

When I was digging in the soil pile,
I ran across these little spongy things.
These are skink eggs.
I was sure to replace them so that they can join their siblings.

There is always something new to learn in nature.


  1. I love skinks! Wishing you a bountiful sweet potato crop.

    1. Thank you.
      Not many women appreciate these kind of critters! ;0D


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