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Friday, May 2, 2008

Sweet Potatoes :: Week 7 1/2

I have finally had a chance to take a picture of my sweet potatoes. This week I decided to snap off the shoots and get them started on rooting.

I was told by the resident sweet potato expert to put them in water to get them to root. Then, when it is time to put them outside, separate them out and plug them into the garden.

Well, I deviated a bit from his advice, not that I thought that I knew better. I was just a little unsure of how to make it work right. My concern was that the shoots would slip into the water, and I couldn't think of anything that I could divide them up with to keep them standing.

So I just did what I did last year. I took the shoots and poked them right into moist soil. I had a few of my newspaper planting pots left, so I utilized what I could of those. For my remaining shoots, I just used the bottom of a milk jug container filled with soil. I'm not sure what the difference is in how fast they root with water vs. soil, but this works fine. You can even put your shoots directly into the garden this way if you run out of starting time. (Just be sure to keep them well watered and maybe put a milk jug greenhouse over them to keep warmth and moisture in.)

I think that my updates on sweet potatoes won't be as frequent now that they are in the soil. If there are any big changes or if I do anything different, I'll post about it. If you don't see anything for a week or two, however, just assume they are growing in their planters. (Which, by the way, are by a grow light at night and out on the deck when the day is sunny.)

I hope everyone else's are doing well. Feel free to drop any questions, and I'll do my best to answer.


Julie said...

Around the time you placed your potatoes in water, I found a poor sweet potato in the kitchen with better sprouts than yours and figured it wanted to grow and reproduce - as if my veggies have feelings! :-) Well, its still in the jar out on the deck, night and day, but its doing well. Before I plant it at my parents (I live in an apartment), what type of space will it need to grow and produce potatoes? How many will it produce? Do I plant all the sprouts or just a few?

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

That's great yours took off! I think some of mine were treated. I was told by a friend that sometimes they are treated with a chemical to prevent them from sprouting. I went to the store after I had started mine, and it looked like they had a different variety in - and almost all of them had sprouts at the store even. Next year I'm going to see if I can catch that second kind to start mine with!

You can plant as many sprouts as you want plants. When you go to plant your sprouts, plant them 12 inches apart in the garden. They don't grow in a bush like regular potatoes, but rather in a vine. They will need a bit of room to vine out - about 8 feet. You can just string the vines down other rows if you want, and they can be trimmed.

They will be ready to dig 100-120 days in the ground. The longer you wait, the bigger and more nutrient rich sweet potatoes you will get. (Dig when leaves turn yellow, but before frost to have tubers that store well.)

As to how many you will get per plant, I'm not quite sure. Last year was my first year, and I didn't get them in near early enough. I got 4 or 5 from a plant, but I wouldn't be surprised if they yield more when planted properly.

Hope they work out for you!

Linds said...

Okay, my second round of potatoes are getting there. I had some upside down in the water but all are well now. I have one with leaves.

When will I be ready to start rooting them? When they get leaves?

I should snap off the top parts that are growing and plant or root each of those? I think I have some thin vases that might work well to root them in.

What is the goal for getting them into the ground as far as time?

Thanks for the great info, I didn't realize they grew different then regular potatoes..dah..more vining plants. :)

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

I'm glad to hear your sweet potatoes are going again. :)

You would probably be fine just putting them into the garden now if you keep them really well watered and don't let them dry out. I would harden them off a bit outside first while they are still on the potato. If you want to be on the safe side with getting them established, you can go ahead and root them in water first.

I was told to wait until the shoots are 6 inches long before snapping them off - right at the base by the potato, but I took some of mine off at 4 inches and they are doing fine.

As far as how long you can wait before planting them . . . I'm not sure. I would probably just go ahead as soon as the shoots are big enough now.

Hope they work out for you!

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