Category Archives: Sweet Potatoes

Growing Your Own Sweet Potato Slips

I grow my own sweet potato slips.  I started these over a month ago – it is too late now, mid July, to plant sweet potato slips and expect them to grow to maturity.

I buy a sweet potato from the store, stand it on its end in an inch of water and wait for the sprouts to pop out.  When a sprout is at least 6 inches long, I cut it off at the base where it grows from the potato.  Put this sprout in water and it will form roots.  After the roots form and are at least an inch long, plant them in the ground.  The take off.  I really should have gotten my slips in the ground by mid-May, but I am always so busy that it took me a bit too long to get them sprouted.

sweet potato slips

These slips were planted in the green house. Other slips were planted where the regular potatoes grew. Well wait until first frost and see how they did.

sweep potato slips in the green house

I planted them about a month late, but I still hope for a better harvest than I had last year. Sweet potatoes are supposed to be pretty idiot proof.

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A Disappointing Sweet Potato Harvest

In an earlier post, I showed pics of the sweet potatoes that were growing in the greenhouse. (I planted sweet potatoes in the greenhouse ground, not knowing what else could grow in the sun-screened structure that still reached daytime temps well into the low 100s).

Here is a pic, again of the sweet potato vines. They were prolific, constantly growing up the walls, only to fall back down onto the other vines when they grew too far up the walls. A very thick patch of vines.

sweet potato vines in a green house

I planted them a bit late, late in May instead of mid or early April. They did, however, get their full 150 growing days. I harvested them after a freeze that was cold enough to actually freeze most of the leaves in the greenhouse. That was around Thanksgiving. They had over 4 months, close to 5 months to grow. That should have been plenty of time.

This is the pitiful harvest:

a pitiful sweet potato harvest

Something went terribly wrong. I only fertilized once – that was after a bad attack of spider mites. The mites killed about half of the leaves before I realized what was happening and treated with neem oil. They had a full 3 months of growth after that incident.

Sweet potatoes are supposed to be pretty idiot-proof. Where did I go wrong? I am going to plant them again in the GH, after the Fava Beans and English Peas are harvested this spring.

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Odd Spots On Sweet Potato Leaves

Originally published late summer 2011

This is the 2nd or 3rd time this season that I have had these odd spots appear on sweet potato leaves in the greenhouse.  It appears to be a spray across the plants, near the door.

Spots on sweet potato leaves

These spots look like pesticide damage – namely malathion damage. The problem is that I have not used
malathion this year. T he last time these spots appeared, they were in the same general area. At that time the spots were also on beet leaves that once grew in that area. I noticed the spots when I went to the greenhouse in the morning, meaning that this might be happening during the night. Would a cat or raccoon or some other critter spray the leaves and cause this?

closeup of spots on sweet potato leaves

I have sprayed the underside of the leaves with neem oil, but I spray the entire plot and under all leaves. This is something that was sprayed across this one section.

Underside of sweet potato leaves spots

I have no idea what has happened.  Very odd.

UPDATE:  I do believe that I have found the culprit.  I think it has been Repel brand mosquito spray.  I used to spray myself at that spot.  Some of the spray must have landed on the leaves – I never thought to be sure to keep the spray away from plants.  I tested the spray by spraying a leaf of a castor plant just outside the greenhouse door – and sure enough, after a few days, the spots turned brown.  It takes several days for the spray damage to show up.  I hope it doesn’t become systemic – I am hoping for a good sweet potato harvest in a month or 2.

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Sweet Potato In The Greenhouse

Originally published Summer 2011

There isn’t much that will thrive in the greenhouse soil during the hot summer.  The shade cloth over the roof filters out too much sun for the tomatoes and peppers.  This batch of sweet potato cuttings, however, seem to be thriving. (This is last season’s carrot that I have allowed to go to seed.  Hopefully I will get some useful seed).

Sweet potato in the greenhouse

I have several clumps growing, and of course the clump that came from the biggest chunk of potato is growing the fastest.  And there are still a few small carrots and beets that I haven’t pulled.  Might as well ‘weed’ because with this heat I don’t think the carrots or beets will grow much more.

Sweet potato in the greenhouse

The above cuttings were given to me by a neighbor – from potatoes that grew from a cutting a friend gave her.  Below is a sweet potato that I bought from Kroger back in March or so.  I stuck the bottom half of it in potting soil when I got it and it took months for it to begin to sprout.  Now it looks like a house plant and is almost too pretty to cut up and plant the slips.  I just might let it grow – but I
don’t know how long it will live – it is, after all, sprouting from a potato that won’t last forever.  I’ll probably cut some of the branches off and try to root them.  It is getting late to try to plant potatoes, but they do grow all the way to first frost, which is November around here – but since they are in the greenhouse, they won’t get cold until the end of December.  However, by then I would need to have some of my winter crops planted in the GH soil.  Logistics – always logistics when you just don’t have enough room to grow everything you want to.

Sweet potato plant

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