Have you ever enjoyed a pie with sweet potatoes as fillings? I bet you did, but if ever you are one of those few people who have not tried the delicacy yet, I suggest that you try it as soon as possible considering that aside from being delicious, sweet potatoes are nutritious.
How To Plant Sweet Potatoes?
Growing sweet potatoes is a unique experience because they do not come from seeds, unlike other veggies do. In fact, how to plant sweet potatoes requires you to have a slip. These slips are shoots or sprouts that are grown from matured sweet potatoes. If you want to plant your own sweet potatoes, you can purchase these sprouts from local farmers growing sweet potatoes, garden centers or nurseries. Or if you have a friend or a family member who is already growing it, then you can always ask them for sprouts for free. But if you want a better challenge, you can grow your own sprouts too.
How to grow sweet potatoes would actually require you to have the right season because unlike regular potatoes, they are usually sensitive to the weather. Now if you ask the best time when to plant sweet potatoes, the answer is quite simple and you would just have to wait for this moment to get the best sweet potato products that you want. The perfect time for you when to plant sweet potatoes will be during the spring season. You need to wait for spring because sweet potatoes tend to love the warm and hot weather compared to a cool one.
If you already have the sweet potatoes and the timing is perfect, then look on the steps below on how to grow sweet potatoes.
1. Work with the slips
Acquire a number of clean and healthy sweet potatoes from farmers, stores, gardens or whoever you can get it from. Each of the sweet potato will give you 50 slips the most. Wash your sweet potatoes clean and cut them large or in half to create sprouts. Put each portion in a jar of water. Make sure that when you place the sweet potato, half of it should be submerged in water while the other half should be above it. You may use toothpicks or cut sticks to hold it in position. If you want to grow more quantities of sprouts, you can place a number of sweet potatoes on a sand bed and cover them with moist, sandy soil.
Leave it to grow sprouts within a month, some even leave it up to 90 days. It all depends on the length of the sprouts that you want your sweet potatoes to have. In a month, you will grow about 8-10 inches of sprout, this is the minimum length for a sprout that enables you to re-plant it in a garden.
2. Separate and grow roots for the slip
Once there are sprouts, you need to separate them to plantable slips. Give each sprouts a twist carefully or cut them with a knife. Place each sprout in a shallow bowl submerging half of the stem in water. Wait for a few days, and after which you will see roots coming out from the new plant that you created. Once the roots measures an inch, then the new slips are ready for planting.
3. Look for the perfect soil
A sweet potato grows best in a soil that has a pH of 5.8-6.2. Before you start planting, a 1-inch layer of compost should be mixed with the soil, and you also need to dampen the bed thoroughly. You need to take note that your sweet potatoes will need plenty of air space for them to develop good roots. This is to ensure that the roots can grow without resistance especially when they try to expand. In the meantime, if you have a heavy clay soil, it is best to grow the vegetable in elevated beds with compost and sand.
4. Re-plant the slips into the soil
Dig a hole that is about 4-5 inches deep and 3 inches wide, and plant the slips with distance of 9-10 inches from each other. Plant it in a way that there are at least 2 plant nodes or the entire bottom half underground, while two or more leaves are above the ground. Cover the hole carefully with soil so that you wont hurt the plant. Once you have already covered them with soil, press the soil around the plant to remove air pockets.
Repeat this transplanting method with the rest of your remaining sprouts.
5. Water it well
Watering the sweet potatoes after you have transplanted them is essential. Water the new plant through until you are sure that the entire soil surrounding the plant is wet. However, you need to stop watering before the soil corrodes. Water the plant everyday for its first week. On its second week, you can water it every other day and increase the time distance every week until you are watering the plants only once a week. Since it is usually planted during the spring or on a hot season, you need to ensure that it will never go thirsty and you might need to increase the amount of water during a very hot day.
6. Fertilize the sweet potatoes
How to grow sweet potatoes the best way is to fertilize them too. The plants roots will need nitrogen and phosphorous for them to grow well. You can put fertilizer 2-3 inches to the side after 30 days from re-planting it.
7. Control insect and weed
Just like every plant, growing sweet potatoes will also attract pests and grow weeds. In such cases, you need to ensure that you are able to control these pests and weeds. When dealing with pests, you can use Sevin or Malathion. Place two tablespoons of any of these two on a gallon of water, and use this water in watering every 7 to 14 days. For the weeds, you can just manually take them off but be careful in doing so to ensure that you will not injure the roots of your sweet potatoes in the process.