sprouting sweets

Root Vegetables, Starting Seeds

I’m experimenting with a couple sweet potatoes from the store. A white one and an orange one. I cut off an inch of each and put them in a glass of water. I’m hoping for a few sprouts I can pot up then plant in the garden when spring comes. I didn’t do so well with mail ordered slips last year. Maybe too early to start, but I’m looking forward to getting the garden going.

13 Comments. Leave new

  • I think we had a really bad combination of 1) poor slips – or at least, not great slips. 2) cold weather that lasted well into July 3) we have a pretty short growing season anyway for them.

    I think if we had had a long hot summer, they would have done better. We got several pounds out of them, but almost all were smallish. We only had 2 or 3 good sized ones, which Mr. Finch says were delicious. 🙂

  • My mom does this and always has great luck.

  • We are going to try to grow sweet potatoes in zone 5 (central/western mass). Our local supply store sells the slips so we will see how that goes!

  • How do you do this? I see you cut off the ends and place in water and wait itl sprout, but what do you do with the sprouted potaot? Plant the whole thing and it majes a new one?

    Sorry, I'm a newbie in all this!!!

  • A group of gardeners from Winchester are looking to buy some composting red wiggler worms. Do you know of a local supply?


  • I don't know where to get compost worms. Maybe someone else does?

  • I am a newbie too, so hopefully I'll get corrected if I'm wrong here.

    One end of the sweet potato looks like it will make little sprouts and the other end looks like a stem. Cut off 1 inch of the sprouts end (eat the rest of it) and put it in a glass with water (I don't really know how much water is needed). Put the glass in the sunlight. You should get several sprouts called "slips". These will grow leaves, stems and roots. When they are big (maybe 1-2 inch root) separate the slips and plant in potting soil. Grow them inside until temps are warm (end of May in zone 6). Harden off before planting out.

    Last year I got two very nice sweet potatoes from one slip. Here's their picture.

    The problem I had with the mail ordered ones was I wasn't able to plant then immediately when they arrived. It may have taken me a week to get them into the ground. They didn't seem to like the wait. I think I'll have more flexibility on when to plant if I sprout my own. I'll have less choice in varieties, but I've been impressed with how many types are available in stores now. Also the store tubes aren't certified disease free and may not be a variety that is ideal for this area. I don't really know if these are important concerns.

    I heard the other day that sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat! (I head that kale is THE most nutritious on a per calorie basis.) Sweet potatoes are certainly one of the tastiest. We all love sweet potato fries! I'll have to put together a list of sweet potato recipes soon.

  • I've had variable luck in starting slips from store-bought sweet potatoes, but they always start just fine from the littlest sweet potatoes from my garden (saved for this exact purpose). I've wondered whether sweets from the store were treated with something to prevent/delay sprouting.

    When you do get sprouts that are long enough to snap off and plant, those sprouts can later be snapped short and the snapped-off growth planted to make more slips. Time consuming, but an easy, cheap way to get more slips for planting!

  • thanks kathy!!

  • Thanks agwh,

    The same with regular potatoes – they are treated to delay sprouting. But they eventually do sprout. I look forward to saving a few sweets next year for sprouting.

  • Kathy–I'm not sure if this is true for sweet potatoes, but for regular potatoes, I have read that it is a very, very bad idea to use supermarket potatoes for seed because of the risk of passing on blight and other viruses–they aren't necessarily raised 'clean' and your slips are genetic clones.

  • My understanding (for sweet potatoes) is that planting sprouts/slips that have been snapped off above the soil or water line (depending on what you've put your sweet potato chunks in for sprouting) helps limit spread of disease in sweet potatoes, because their problems are more typically "soil-borne" and likely to be carried on the skin of the tuber.

    Not sure whether this is actually true, but it does make a certain kind of sense.

  • My daughter tried this for a science fair experiment. It didn't work very well. I noticed that I get better sprouts if I just leave the potato in the dark for awhile, and cut the sprouts apart later.
    We eventually planted ours in potato bags on the patio.


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