Slipping the tubers

I absolutely love sweet potatoes, both the tuber and the plant. The plants are gorgeous, and if you wanted to plant them among your flowers,  no one would know they were busy producing food AND being pretty! A delightful dual purpose plant. The sweet potato is from the same family of plants as the morning glory, and the flowers they produce look just like a morning glory.

The flavor of the grocery store tubers isn’t bad, but, like a hot house tomato compared to a homegrown tomato, just cannot compare to the rich, sweet, earthy flavor of a homegrown sweet potato.

Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes take a bit more effort to grow. You can’t just cut up a sweet potato with an eye on each bit and plant it. Well, I imagine you could, but without much success. You could cut one in half and force roots and slips, but you end up losing the productivity one tuber is capable of.

Sweet potatoes do best if you take an organic, homegrown sweet potato and put it in a jar in a sunny window until it starts sprouting. Grocery store sweet potatoes are generally coated in an anti-growth chemical and typically won’t sprout, no matter how much sun and water you give them.

Sweet potatoes with slips.

Take  your sweet potato and poke toothpicks into it about halfway in it so half the potato sits in the water. I have well water, I don’t know how well they will do in chemicalized city water.  These guys have been in a sunny southern-facing window for about a month. They were a bit slow to sprout but once they did, they went bonkers!  It’s time for the next step.

Close up of slips.

Slips, beautiful slips!  The potatoes have been more slip productive than I thought they would be. Gently take the slip between your fingers as close as you can to the potato and twist. It will come right off.

Slips off the potato and into the water.

After you twist the slips off, place them in a shallow pan of water where in about a week they will start growing roots. You can plant the slip directly in the garden if you wish, but there is still a chance of frost here so I’m rooting the slips before I put them in the garden. Either way works.

Slips slipped, potatoes naked.

And, back into the sunny window both potatoes and slips go.

Roots, beautiful roots

About a week later, we have roots on the slips….

More slips!

And more slips coming in on the potatoes. Oh, that middle one looks like it’s done. Guess it’s to the compost heap for that one. The nice thing about slipping sweet potatoes instead of growing the roots and slips on the potato then planting the potato is you end up with MORE sweet potato plants this way. They will keep producing slips that you can root and plant as long as the potato keeps on producing, unlike that poor little middle guy who is spent.

Yeah, sweet potatoes are a lot of work, more than just planting a seed and letting it grow, but, when you are digging up piles of beautiful tubers that will keep for a couple of months in a cool, dark, dry place, you know they are so worth the extra work.

Happy planting!


6 thoughts on “Slipping the tubers

  1. Jennifer:
    This is one of your best articles. I just love how you’ve clearly shown the reader exactly how to produce rooted slips ready for potting up, or for planting directly into the vegetable garden. Great photos too. A job well done!

    • It might…ask the produce manager if they know if the potato has been sprayed with the growth inhibitor. They may know. Even if it was grown organic, some of them still get the inhibitor “bath” afterwards. People don’t seem to like to buy veggies that are sprouting!

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