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Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Toplef10Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? I22gcj10Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? 14dhcg10

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Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow?

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Post  OhioGardener 1/5/2022, 11:55 am

Received an e-mail this morning from one of the seed companies advising that it is now time to pre-order sweet potato slips, and it got me to wondering (wandering?) about this subject.  Do most people purchase sweet potato slips, or do they grow their own?  I have never purchased sweet potato slips, so have no experience with purchased ones.

The e-mail link to the order page revealed that the slips they are selling are pretty expensive - $18 for 25 slips, or $1.40 per slip. I usually have an abundance of sweet potato slips that grow on potatoes that are in storage, and don't need to acquire more.

Question: Other than acquiring a new variety, is there any reason to buy sweet potato slips instead of growing your own?  Do you buy them, or do you grow them?

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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/5/2022, 12:59 pm

I got the same email and was shocked at the pricing!  Wondering the same thing.  Is our growing season long enough?
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Post  OhioGardener 1/5/2022, 1:26 pm

Scorpio Rising wrote: Is our growing season long enough?

Yes, they grow very well here.  They are ready to dig 90 to 120 days after planting the slips. I can get the slips in the ground here around the first or second week of May, and they are ready to dig early- to mid-September.

And, the vines look beautiful streaming over the edge of the raised bed!

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Post  sanderson 1/5/2022, 2:14 pm

I've always "raised" my own slips. One sweet potato can grow a year's worth of new sweet potatoes for me, so it's a very good return on a single potato.

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Post  yolos 1/5/2022, 2:31 pm

Well crud.  I must have failed to hit send in the email on Sweet Potato slips.  So here is a shorter version.  I almost always buy sweet potato slips.  They Used to be fairly cheap although I have not bought any the last few years cause nobody around me eats them.  Planning involved, winter is not my time of year, etc keeps me from raising my own slips.  I think I did it one year but just too much trouble for the few transplants I need.
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Post  markqz 1/5/2022, 5:13 pm

yolos wrote:Planning involved, winter is not my time of year, etc keeps me from raising my own slips.  

They won't over-winter in your location?
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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/6/2022, 9:29 am

I think I’m going to try to raise a couple, the quantities are too much for me in the catalogs.
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Post  OhioGardener 1/6/2022, 11:44 am

Scorpio Rising wrote:I think I’m going to try to raise a couple, the quantities are too much for me in the catalogs.

Yes, it is too easy to grow your own slips to spend that much money to purchase them. Just stick the sweet potato in a glass of water and let it root. Soon you'll have more slips than you need.

Saw a good tutorial on growing sweet potato slips not too long ago:

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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/6/2022, 3:14 pm

Agree!  Has anyone had a blue sweet potato?
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Post  sanderson 1/7/2022, 12:00 am

OhioGardener wrote:Saw a good tutorial on growing sweet potato slips not too long ago:
Well, you just took me back to the 60's. afro Who didn't have a wine carafe with sweet potato vines.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/8/2022, 11:06 am

When should I start this process exactly?
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Post  OhioGardener 1/8/2022, 11:41 am

Scorpio Rising wrote:When should I start this process exactly?

It takes 6 to 8 weeks from the time you put the piece of sweet potato in a jar until you have slips ready to plant - they require warmth to sprout, so the time depends on how warm they are kept during that phase.  So, if you want to get them in the ground around the end of May, you would want to start the process around the first of April. It is important to change the water in the jar daily so that it does not develop molds.

The longest part of the process is when the piece of sweet potato is put in a jar until it sprouts.  Once the sprouts are large enough to cut off and put into a jar, they sprout roots in about a week.  Once those roots are over an inch long they can planted, but they can be allowed to get much longer if it is too early to plant.  After they are planted, water daily for a week or so, depending on the weather.

When you're ready to start them, do something like this:Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Sweet_10

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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/8/2022, 11:18 pm

Very helpful!  Thanks, OG,
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Post  Guest 1/19/2022, 10:20 am

I bought my first sweet potato slips, then the next year, I grew my own.  So far, I had a great experience growing my own, and I think my slips were far superior to the ones I purchased.  They were stronger, and I could wait as long as needed to plant them (as long as I kept them watered and growing).  It wasn't hard, and I ended up getting quite a few slips off a single potato, so I didn't need to use as many potatoes as I had originally thought.  I would highly recommend that you try to grow your own!
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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/19/2022, 1:57 pm

Plus they’re expensive, and I don’t need that many!  I will try it!
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Post  WhiteWolf22 1/20/2022, 12:15 am

I know this will probably sound silly, but I have to ask.  I grow potatoes with potato seeds...a piece of potato with a root on it.  Can you not grow sweet potatoes the same way?  The slip method sounds very time consuming and in N. Idaho, it's very difficult to have a garden up and ready by May because of the temps.  Also, in order to grow standard potatoes, you use potato seeds and if you don't have any from last year's potatoes, they have to be purchased at a nursery because the "grocery store" potatoes are sterile.  I saw (in the video) that you can use the grocery store sweet potatoes.  Is this true?  I know the first year's yield can be saved for the next year, but that means I would have to buy slips from a nursery to start with.  I would hate it if I used a "grocery store" sweet potato only to find out that it was also sterile.  Please advise.  There's a grower at Etsy that is reasonable, but I need to start soon to be ready for Spring.
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Post  sanderson 1/20/2022, 3:17 am

WhiteWolf,  First, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here

Yes, you can grow your own slips from a store bought sweet potato.  It's really not as time consuming as you think.  Cut a SP in half and suspend in a container of water.  I use toothpicks to help suspend them.  Slips that grow under the water or close to the water will develop roots.  Slips higher up will need your help. Change the water maybe twice a week. Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Sweet_22

Carefully snap off the shoots and stick them in water.  They will grow roots and can survive in just clean water for days or few weeks.  They are then planted when the weather is consistently 50*F or greater.
Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Sweet_23

Sweet potatoes need warmth and sunshine and a long growing season.  They can only be grown when the weather is consistently 50*F or more, which in Idaho means sometime in May, if outdoors, or earlier in a green house. SP in Idaho basically need to be grown in a greenhouse in large containers or beds, or in large containers where they can be brought inside if the weather turns. Allow 6-7 months of growing for a harvest. Can it be done? Yes. Do you need to do an end run around Mother Nature? Yes.
https://idahopotato.com/dr-potato/do-idaho-farmers-grow-sweet-potatoes

The slips in the 2 storage totes were planted 5 weeks earlier around April 1. Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Sweet_24

Four months later, Sept 5, they SP vines are everywhere!  Regular potato plants are bushy verses SP which are long vines.
Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Sweet_25

I grow them in 2 large storage totes filled with Mel's Mix on rolling platforms, because I don't have enough room for a SFG bed of their own. The empty totes on their rolling platforms (11-11-21) are in the background and the dumped contents on a clean tarp are in the foreground. Sweet Potato Slips - Buy or Grow? Sweet_26

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Post  rdhwyalane 1/20/2022, 4:12 pm

Hi Sanderson,


That looks like a great idea!  I'm in Georgia with hard packed red clay, so that seems like it would work well here.  I have a couple (possibly stupid) questions...  Do you drill drain holes in the bottom of the containers?  And how many plants per container?


Thanks!
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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/21/2022, 10:02 am

Good questions!  I am liking this method because of my space limitations in the beds—plus it looks like an easier harvest to dump and sift!
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Post  OhioGardener 1/21/2022, 4:26 pm

I was wondering about using 10-gallon or 15-gallon grow bags. A 10 gallon grow bag is just over 1 cubic foot. Just wondering....

https://www.amazon.com/Gardzen-10-Pack-Gallon-Aeration-Handles/dp/B07CTD9SDS

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Post  Scorpio Rising 1/21/2022, 9:07 pm

How do you water this?  It’s a bag.  Right?   I have trouble with the actual beds some years.  Seems like evaporation will beat me!

I think I am going with containers?
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Post  WhiteWolf22 1/21/2022, 9:41 pm

Until this last year, I used 31 gallon totes for my potatoes (Yukon Golds and Reds).  It was convenient and easier to harvest but I was having to replace the totes every other year.  I bought three 10 gallon grow bags for 2022's garden.  If you buy the right ones, after your harvest you can wash them and use them for the next year's garden.  At least, that's what they tell me.  The ones I purchased have a viewing window on one side at root level!  Even has a flap to cover the window!  While I was at the site, I purchased a couple of strawberry grow bags - I had to.  Last year's strawberries took over an entire 4'x8' box!  I decided to try to keep the strawberries separate from now on even if I have to hang the bags on crooks.  I also got three 50 gallon grow bags for some mini-dwarfs I got at one of our local universities - Bing Cherry, Black Cherry, and Peach.  They'll probably be in the bags a couple of years and then you put the whole thing in the soil.  They have heavy duty straps to move them.  In fact, all the grow bags have straps so you can move them anywhere.  It's a pretty nifty idea.  I think on the 10 gallon grow bags that you can grow 4 potato plants in each one and the strawberry grow gags grow 9 to 11 plants - they have pockets and room on top for a couple more plants.  Evergrows yield 3 harvests per year.  I am really excited to see how well these bags work!
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Post  sanderson 1/21/2022, 10:29 pm

rdhwyalane wrote:Hi Sanderson, That looks like a great idea!  I'm in Georgia with hard packed red clay, so that seems like it would work well here.  I have a couple (possibly stupid) questions...  Do you drill drain holes in the bottom of the containers?  And how many plants per container? Thanks!
No stupid questions. Yes, There are probably 5 or 6 1/2" drill holes in the low spots. I then line the bottom with weed fabric to keep in the Mel's Mix. I've been planting 3 slips per tote but I think I will try 2 in one tote and the usual 3 in the other tote this spring. (The slips are ready to be planted April 1 - Zone 9A)

Regarding Georgia red clay, using SFG with raised beds filled with Mel's Mix solves that problem.In fact, you can set a SFG bed (lined with weed fabric to keep in the Mel's Mix) on a cement slab.

If you haven't yet, please read the 2nd of 3rd Edition of ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening.

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Post  BDumler2 2/2/2022, 10:38 pm

Just make sure they are an organic sweet potato.  I live in Meridian (next to Boise) Idaho and I usually have sweet potatoes that I got at Costco that start sprouting.  I use these to start my slips.  I had a lot of slips and  I just kept them in the jars until they were ready to plant out.  They may not get as big as store bought but they are still good.  They do need the sunshine so don't put them in a shady area.  Good luck.

On other potatoes, I have been told by our master gardeners that we should only use certified potatoes because of a disease that can be spread.  I will only purchase certified potatoes and also that goes for garlic.  Once the disease spreads that leaves the ground unusable for years.  I think we need to respect our real farmers on this.
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