Sunday, May 31, 2009

Experiment: Sweet Potatoes in Containers

The experiment has officially begun! I have read nothing on growing sweet potatoes in containers. So, aside from what I know about growing them in general --- I'm on my own.

Sweet potatoes are grown from the "slips" or sprouts that appear after you've held onto them too long. I had a few potatoes from the winter, that had taken on lives of their own. Pre-sprouted, even. I also stuck a couple in jars, submerging the ends in water, held in place by toothpicks. Sounds a lot like the low-tech science experiments done in grade school, doesn't it?

When the slips are about 8" long, they are ready to be removed, with a twisting motion and planted. Another shortcut I have taken is to stick the slips in an organic potting medium, so that they can develop a good root system.

Apparently, sweet potatoes do well in a slightly acidic, loamy, sandy soil that is rich in organic matter. Too much nitrogen with produce rampant vines and distorted tubers. A cupful of organic liquid fertilizer per plant, rich in phosphorus will get them off to a good start. One specifically for transplanting should do the trick.

The sweet potato slips have to be kept well-watered to keep them from withering. Sweet potato plants need at least 1" of water per week. Then the amount of water can be decreased as maturity approaches, in order to keep the tubers from cracking.


Valeri said...

Could sweet potatoes be grown in England? I'm not very up on them at all but do like them.

Alexandria Sewell said...

Valerie, sweet potatoes do like it warm, but they can be grown in cooler climates during the summer. I've heard it suggested that you warm up the ground with black plastic a few weeks before you're going to plant.

Carrie said...

Oh, I love sweet potatoes, never even thought about trying to grow them here (N. Ireland). I shall watch your experiment with interest, I love that you are going against the books and trying your own thing. Why hasn't anyone thought of containers before, it seems like a great idea! Good luck.

Thanks for visiting my blog xx

Alexandria Sewell said...

Carrie, there are definately some varieties of sweet potato that do well in colder climates. So, if you decide to do your own experiment, do a little web research. I must confess, I have consulted books on how to grow the potatoes in general, but not about growing in containers.

Thanks for visiting my blog! Keep writing --- I know I will be, in spite of the statistics.

Tatyana said...

Very interesting! I planted some potatoes from a grocery store that sprouted. Some in the ground, some in a burlap sak and some in a nursery black plastic container. I'd love to grow some sweet potatoes, too!

Alexandria Sewell said...

Tatyana, I've never grown any sort of potato. This is my first try. Let me know how your potatoes are doing. I have not heard of growing in a burlap sack. Where did you hear of that idea??

Tatyana said...

Alexandria, I posted about potatoes recently (Back To Potatoes! May 12). I read about burlap sacks and other "weird" planters for potatoes on Blotanical, but don't remember which blog. Actually, there were several bloggers who wrote about it!They even wrote about garbage bags!

Alexandria Sewell said...

That's interesting, Tatyana. I'll have to go back to your blog and check out your post. Thanks for the information.

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