Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grow your own Sweet Potato Slips

Sweet Potato Slip
Our family loves sweet potatoes.  We eat them almost as much as regular potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are actually not a potato at all, but is a tuber in the morning glory family.  Until we moved to Texas we had only ever had candied sweet potatoes, you know the stuff full of brown sugar and covered in marshmallows.  Now our most favorite way is baked in the oven drizzled with olive oil and season salt (I have never really enjoyed the candied ones).

Sweet potatoes are similar to regular potatoes nutritionally.  They offer up a more Vitamin A and slightly more Vitamin C.  7 Ounces of each offer about 200-220 calories each.  So they are a good staple vegetable and grow easily.  They grown in the heat of summer and are pretty resilient to drought and love high temps.  They are either bushy or vinney.  We see them planted all over the place down here as just ornamentals.

Sweet potatoes are not planted like regular potatoes.  They are planted from slips, slips are
The Texas Sweet Potato, covered in new slips.
young shoots that grown off of a sweet potato and are broken off and develop roots, then they are planted.When you start looking into buying sweet potato slips you will find that they are kind of pricy $1.00 to $3.00  for each slip!  So I started looking into alternatives or ways to grown them yourself.  I found many resources on the internet and you tube.  It is pretty easy but I have had mixed results.

I started out with three sweet potatoes from the grocery store.  One local Texas potato, one "organic" Garnet, and one Okinawan which is a purple fleshed sweet potato.   I have heard that store bought sweet potatoes even "organic" ones are often treated to avoid sprouting.  This is a real problem if you are trying to start your own slips.
Garnet, Texas & Okinawan

To start slips you take tooth picks and insert them into the tuber in the middle.  Place it in a jar of water, keeping the bottom 1/3-1/2 submerged.  After a few weeks you should see roots start to form and the top should start to sprout.  The water should be changed at least once a week to keep it from getting nasty.  I placed mine in a south facing window until the temperatures got hot enough for them to sit outside on the window sill.  I waited until the night time temps were in the 60's.

Rotten Garnet
I had some problems with the Okinawan and the Organic Garnet.  The first garnet rotted, the second had some small nubs start but also rotted and really stunk!  The Okinawan never took off, I also tried another one of them after the first rotted.

The root system is like 4' long!

Once your slips have grown and are a 3-6 inches you simply break them off at the base.  Set them in water for a few days to a week.

Freshly broken off slip
Slips in a cup of water

Take all of your slips and place them in water, after a few days you will start to see little roots form.
Planted slip.  Looks a little anemic it sat a few days to long in water.

   Take these out and plant them in your garden or flower beds.  Sweet potatoes are a really nice looking ground cover in flower beds.

I ended up with 7 slips off my first batch.  Set them in water and one week later they are ready to plant.  The sweet potato looks to still have life in it so I will keep it watered and hope to get more slips off of it.

I am currently trying a different method. I am hoping to still have luck with another Okinawan.  I will keep you updated on the progress.  


kay gao said...

did you get any Okinawa slips growing?

Jacob said...

No, not yet. I am now on my third try. This time I cut the potato in half and have two halves sitting in water (cut side down). They have been in water for about 3 weeks now, no sign of roots or shoots.
I would love to get some started, there is only one store near us that sells them but they are $2.99-3.99 per pound. I would love to just grow them at the cost of starting slips.
The Okinawan sweet potato requires many hot days to mature, which I can give them here in Texas.
I'll keep trying, I might just have to order some slips next year and keep propagating them forward from there.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to get some to grow slips right now and I was wondering if it has to be a certain temperature to get it taking off? I am trying to keep them warm..so hopefully they will work?
Do they need to have the new growth in the water or close to it?
I love them!
Any other tips?

Shaun-ta' said...

I think room temperature water should be just fine. Make sure they have plenty of sunlight.If you haven't already check out this post http://ourprovidentlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/sweet-potato-slips-simple-method.html
It is more detailed and has more photos. You just have to keep the bottom of the potato in the water. Then as the slips grow you will break them off and put them in another container with water to cover the ends so that roots will sprout on each slip.
I hope that helps! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you. :)
My potatoes are growing leaves now.
Have you tried planting them in a barrel? I have a few of those and want to try some out. Maybe I can keep out moles? And bugs too.
I'm ready for spring already. It's been too cold lately!! Brrr.