October 09, 2014

How I Grow Sweet Potato From Slips in my Tropical Organic Garden

As you may recall, I grow sweet potatoes because their leaves are edible either raw or cooked. Since I did not explain how to grow sweet potato slips in earlier posts, I will do so now.

How to grow sweet potato slips


How to grow sweet potato slips from supermarket groceries
15 Sep: Growing sweet potato slips from store bought sweet potatoes
Sweet potato slips are small sprouts that you can grow from sweet potatoes or sweet potato vines. Some weeks ago, I did not have ready access to larger sweet potato vines and therefore bought non GM organic sweet potatoes to start growing slips. (See how to identify non GMO produce). 

As you can see, I placed one end of 2 potatoes into water. Ideally, I should have used toothpicks to suspend about half of the sweet potatoes in water. In that case, the sweet potato in the cup just sat in water to roughly half of its body. As you can see, the clear jar was too narrow for the second potato. However, the growth rate was comparable with that of the other potato. See the roots for both cases below.
How to grow sweet potato slips from supermarket groceries. View of sweet potato roots
15 Sep: Roots for the sweet potato in water in the jar
How to grow sweet potato slips from supermarket groceries. Sweet potato roots.
15 Sep: Sweet potato roots for the sweet potato in the cup. 

How to grow sweet potatoes from slips

I decided to pluck off some short slips of roughly 6 inches. It is simply a matter of plucking them off the sweet potato. It would be better to use a knife or, better yet, a pair of scissors.
16 Sep: Sweet potato slips of roughly 6 inches
16 Sep: Sweet potato slips of roughly 6 inches

I then planted the sweet potato slips into moist earth. In the case immediately below, this single sweet potato slip is in shade.
16 Sep: I planted sweet potato slips of roughly 6 inches

In the next image below, these 2 slips are in a container in more sunlight. Unfortunately, the heat appears to have stressed them too much. Although I actually covered them at night with a plant pot, slugs and or snails still devoured them within a few days. One did not last more than 24 hours. Interestingly however, the one in the shade has survived without any protection at all. This was unexpected because, in addition to being unprotected (by plant pots or any other measure), the single slip was much closer to the ground and more accessible by snails. The moral of this story appears to be that the more exposed slips might have been planted too soon and could not yet handle the stress caused by intense heat and light.
16 Sep: I planted sweet potato slips of roughly 6 inches
In light of the above mentioned 'loss of life', I resisted further  temptation to plant the sweet potato slips too soon. Consequently, I allowed the slips to grow for a longer period indoors. 

I digress! As usual, the Natural Law of Correspondence carries life lessons in nature. One lesson might be that parents need to protect their young for a while before prematurely letting the young out into the world. I have long come to feel like my plants are children. I know I am not alone in feeling guilty over carelessness in my gardening. After all, your plants depend so heavily on your level of care which makes an enormous difference in whether they survive and how well they grow if they survived at all. I suddenly recall a Youtuber's inability to understand why we personalized an aloe plant in a 'how to care for aloe' video. I had also recognized that there was a symbiotic relationship. Specifically, that aloe plant was in turn caring for me by providing healing properties and many other personal care uses. Though they do not talk (a limited way in which humans recognize communication), plants react directly to their treatment. In short, there is no doubt that a relationship exists between humans and their plants.
The sweet potato slips look like a bouquet
25 Sep: The sweet potato slips look like a bouquet

Anyway, back to gardening! 

This photo above does not do justice to them. However, these slips started to look so much like a pretty green bouquet that I began to like displaying them in the dining area. I plucked off one slip. It measured roughly 1 foot.
The sweet potato slips look like a bouquet. Roughly 1 foot
25 Sep: The sweet potato slips look like a bouquet. I plucked off this slip. It is roughly 1 foot.

In the following photo, you will see what happens when the sweet potato slips can no longer stand tall. Notice below how much more developed the roots developed.
Growing sweet potato slips indoors.
4 Oct: Growing sweet potato slips indoors. 

Growing sweet potato slips indoors.
4 Oct: Growing sweet potato slips indoors. 

The following was a shocker to me. Look closely at the image below. Can you see those tiny black specs on the leaf and tiles? Guess what they are. No, they are not food crumbs of any type. 
Growing sweet potato slips indoors.
4 Oct: Growing sweet potato slips indoors. Caterpillar droppings.
 I have not yet figured it out. How on earth did caterpillars develop on my indoor potato slips. The windows are all meshed. Could this have occurred because I left them outside for about 1 day (when I was cleaning) or perhaps the nearby open top compost bin in my kitchen? How did this happen?
Growing sweet potato slips indoors. Caterpillars indoors.


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