The Sweet Truth About Sweet Potatoes
Although very similar to growing “normal” potatoes, sweet potatoes have subtle differences that require different growing methods from, say, red or russet potatoes.
For instance, sweet potatoes produce what are called “slips.” Slips are somewhat similar to the eyes on normal potatoes. Each sweet potato is covered in little nodules which can grow sprouts which will then turn into sweet potatoes. Just one sweet potato can produce fifty slips.
Sweet potatoes can also be grown from seeds, but seeds are somewhat rare and can be difficult to find, not to mention expensive.
There are two ways you can cultivate slips on your sweet potatoes. The first is to plant them. Pour a thin layer of media into a cheap aluminum pan, just enough for the sweet potato to rest on. Place your sweet potatoes into the tins and cover with a thin layer of media. Deep the media wet by watering the sweet potatoes daily with a spray bottle.
The second method to starting slips in a lot more space conservative. Cut each sweet potato in half and place each section into its own jar of water. You want the sweet potato half to be midway submerged, so stick toothpicks or skewers into the sides of the plant to keep it from falling into the jar. You will not need to mist these sweet potatoes, the water from the jar will be absorbed into the plant and the slips will grow from the top of the plant.
Sweet potatoes prefer warm temperatures of 70°F or more. Keep your pans or jars in a sunny spot or on a heating pad to make sure the plants stay warm as they are sprouting.
When the slips grow to be about four inches long, break them off from the sweet potato, as near to the base of the slip as possible, and place them into their own jars of water. Allow the slips to form roots before planting them in your hydroponic system. Change their water periodically, every few days or when it begins to look murky.
There are a variety of uses for the sweet potato: They can be cut into thin slices and baked to make healthy potato chips, candied to produce a healthy dessert, or served as a side dish on the table.
Sweet potatoes produce a beautiful foliage and decorative flowers. In fact, many people use them as ground cover in their front yard without their neighbors ever realizing what is being grown is actually sweet potatoes!
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