I put off growing my own sweet potatoes for ages. I felt like it was intimidating compared to regular potatoes…which you just toss in the ground and boom, you have potatoes!
But I wish I hadn’t because guess what, they aren’t actually all that difficult to grow. On the contrary! I find sweet potatoes to be extremely easy to grow and hugely rewarding. All I had to do was learn the fundamental differences between growing sweet potatoes and potatoes.
Sweet potatoes verses Potatoes
Potatoes grow from the tuber. You put the sprouted potato in the ground, and it will sprout a leafy green plant. If you keep covering that plant with soil or straw, it will continue to produce more and more potatoes under the ground.
Sweet potatoes grow from a vine (also called a slip). You plant that slip into the ground, and sweet potatoes will grow underneath the soil. The vine will grow and sprawl. If you cover a few sections of this vine under more soil, that will start to produce more and more sweet potatoes.
So. Potatoes grow from potatoes. Sweet potatoes grow from vines or “slips”.
Okay, but how do you get a sweet potato slip?
You can order them from most nurseries or specialty seed shops online. Or. You can grow them yourself very easily.
How to grow sweet potatoes.
Take a sweet potato (or even a spindly sweet potato root!), place it in a jar of water, or even better a small pot of moist soil. Wait.
Leaves will begin to appear.
When the leaves and roots have grown large enough, carefully remove them from the sweet potato and plant the new slip (leaves and roots) in the garden.
As the vines begins to sprawl, cover sections where the leaves meet the vine, with soil to grow more sweet potatoes.
Seriously, it’s that easy.
I even have some sweet potato “slips” that self started in my garden this year from bits of sweet potato I missed from the last harvest! I’m just left them there, and when the vines were long enough I covered them with soil and … then I moved! But I fully expect the new owners to have a fantastic sweet potato harvest!
**Don’t have a big garden?? You can still grow sweet potatoes in containers like these! in fact, I plan to do that here at our townhouse in Washington (we’re in a zone with a decently long summer, yay!). I watched this video that shows how you can grow them in one container, then when the vines grow out long enough you can bury the vine in the container next to it, and grow a full bin of sweet potatoes there too! Follow me on Instagram where I’ll be documenting my progress!
If you live in the south, or in any zone with a lot of heat, you MUST try this. Sweet potatoes have quickly become one of my very favorite things to grow!