Now is a good time to plant sweet potato and you don’t even need to be an expert gardener to get started. Food is expensive and with just a little bit of know-how you can make your budget stretch further and grow some yourself.
If you have a sweet potato sprouting in the cupboard, it might be too far gone for dinner. However, if you plant the sprouting section, called a slip, you can grow your own sweet potatoes in just a few months time. Store-bought sweet potatoes work perfectly well and growing them is simple.
What you will need
- sweet potato slips (one sweet potato can grow multiple slips)
- large pot or a space in the garden
- potting soil or homemade potting medium
- seaweed fertiliser (optional).
What you need to know about slips
The sprouted section of the sweet potato (a slip) can be removed from the sweet potato, placed in water to develop roots and then be planted. Alternatively, you can cut the section containing the slip away from the sweet potato and plant both the slip and a piece of the sweet potatoes directly into the soil. There are several different options to propagate sweet potatoes, but we are focusing on the easiest option to help new gardeners to get going.
Growing sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes grow rapidly in the warmer weather and can be grown either along the ground or vertically over a support to save space. Sweet potatoes like good drainage so if you are planting in the garden, plant in a raised garden bed or create a small mound and plant your sweet potato in the mound so that it drains well and doesn’t rot in wet weather. If you’re planting in a pot using potting soil it will drain freely.
Sweet potatoes are easy to grow and care for so they are perfect if you don't have a lot of spare time.
Usually, sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start turning yellow or 4-6 months after planting.
- Once your sweet potato vine has started to grow, you can harvest some of the leaves and shoots. They are tasty in salads or stir fries in place of Asian greens.
If you are looking for some free compost to keep your sweet potatoes happy, contact your local community composting hub and ask if they have any to spare.