By Lester Fretz
Considering that a gardener can easily grow as many pounds of sweet potatoes in a hill as white potatoes, it seems ridiculous to pay up to 10 times per pound for sweet potatoes as white potatoes at the grocery store.
Perhaps the difficulty in locating slips and the exorbitant cost of purchasing rooted sweet potato slips also discourages growing sweet potatoes. Growing slips is exceedingly easy. As a house plant, it’s probably the easiest!
The alternative is to purchase a couple sweet potatoes from the local grocery. By placing the potato in a container of water in a warm, sunny location, it will soon send up sprouts.
The photo shows one growing in a well-lit window. There is enough nutrition in the potato that allows it to be grown in water while producing this voluminous growth, although growing submerged in soil produces healthier slips.
Near the middle of May, the vine can be cut into 30cm lengths with all but a few leaves removed up to the upper end. When placed in water, the pieces of the vine will root in less than a week for planting into the garden when the soil warms by the second week of June.
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes. Superior, with leaves resembling a soft maple tree, is easy to grow. By saving a few tubers each year, this particular variety has been growing in our garden for over 50 years!
Lester C. Fretz, M.Sc., is a member of the Dunnville Horticulture Society.