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Sweet potatoes!

Planting sweet potato slips

Sweet potatoes are in! They were a last minute addition this year, I was expecting them by the end of May, and then started to write ’em off when I couldn’t get in touch with the grower who was supplying them. But he came through, and they arrived by UPS yesterday, one box with around 1000 slips. Bob P., the sweet potato farmer who sent them, is also here in Ontario, but further south in a microclimate zone near Lake Ontario that’s a lot warmer. Still, they should grow here as well. The variety is Beauregard and they’re started from slips, which are vine cuttings. This is the first crop I’ve started strictly from direct grower-to-grower info, it was great to chat about them on the phone, rather than do the usual new crop…research. And they sound unbelievably trouble-free. Bob’s instructions: stick ’em in the ground with the growing point 2-3″ (5-7.5cm) above the surface, 12″ (30cm) in-row spacing, and as little as 12″ between row, all the way up to 3′ or whatever you like for tractor transplanting and cultivation. That’s it! No watering in, no watering except in extreme drought conditions. Just…weed. Hmmm… I’ll look into them more, but for now, that’s what I did, and there they are. The leaves will probably die off, it’s new rooting that should happen. One mild concern: sweet potato grows best in loose, sandy soil, where here the heavier clay loam is being well-compressed by lots and lots of at times pounding rain. Also, the slips are apparently supposed to be planted within 7 days of cutting, and it’s about a day after that. We’ll see. In 100 days, sweet potatoes? ;)

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17 Comments

  1. Random Reader

    There is a “curing” process involved as well…   That is the most poplular variety grown down here in Georgia.  Sweet Potato casserole, yummmmy!

  2. Robin

    They look great.  I ordered mine from Johnny’s.  They’re so pathetic they won’t look at good as yours three weeks from now.

  3. I’m about to plant my sweet potato slips too! Nice to see yours and hear that its OK if the leaves die off. As a miniature scale home gardener, my story is a bit different. I just snipped the tip off of a nice super market sweet that was showing sprouts and used tooth picks to suspend it in a cup of water. I have nice roots and shoots now. A few slips. Its a nice orange potato that makes great fries. I hope your crop does well!

  4. Steve Mudge

    We planted ours over a month ago and the 90 degree weather has them growing like weeds.  I’m surprised they would grow up there so far north—hope it works out great!

  5. I’m hooking on growing sweet potatoes too.  This is my second year growing them and mine are WAY ahead of last year.  Probably thanks in part to the hot weather a week ago and to the fact that I grew the slips myself and they were bigger and didn’t lose their leaves this time. 

    They taste fabulous, but I found the curing stage (2 weeks at 90 F and high humidity) was a necessary step to have above average sweet potatoes.  Our walk-in closet in the bedroom came in handy for that, although it was difficult to get dressed in the morning for a while.

    Chris

  6. I’ve been growing sweetpotatoes for many years in Missouri.  I have clay soil, but the trick with sweetpotatoes in clay is to plant them on ridged rows.  They can’t stand being water-logged (the roots need air) and having them on ridges keeps just enough of the water drained.  I also mulch heavily with straw to keep the weeds out.  The mulch also helps a lot with moderating soil moisture.  In the summer, clay will dry rock-hard and open up 1/2 inch cracks in the ground.  I’ve got lots of photos on my web site. (Hmmm.  I tried to enter my web site URL and my comment was marked as spam.  Just trying to share some photos of my sweetpotatoes.)
    Doug

  7. Doug: Thanks, that’s useful info for the clayey soil I have here. As you can see, I didn’t ridge this time around. I just went with the grower’s advice: stick ’em in the ground and water only if there’s an extended dry period. Easy! :) We had a few heavy rains in the days after the planting, and that always pounds the soil down, leaving a smooth, hard crust. I scuffled a few days ago to break it up. I checked a couple of the worst looking slips, with just 2-3″ of stem left, and they’d started to put out roots, and the bigger ones have started to grow new leaves. Hopefully, it’ll all work out! I’ll be sure to keep the surface loose, and will mulch if I have it to spare, still lots of toms, peppers, and eggplant ahead in the grass-mulch-as-it’s-made queue! Thanks again!

    If you enter an URL and it’s marked as spam, I’ll see it in the moderation queue and publish it. I’ll check settings, it should only be marking posts with two or more links.

  8. diana

    Hi, just saw your sweet potatoe slips….are they organic though? and would it be ok to send me the information as to where you got them in ontario since i live here too. thanks

  9. EtienneG

    @diana: There are a few organic slip grower, notably Mapple Farm in New Brunswick.  Unfortunately, Mapple Farm is sold out for the season now.

    There is an apparently good book about growing sweetpotatoes in northern climate (search “sweetpotatoes book” in Google), written and self-published by an amateur gardener. You can order it directly from the publisher or from Mapple Farm.  My copy is on its way, as I missed this season and am looking forward to try it next summer.

    There is also an awesome about growing organic sweetpotatoes in Maine.  I presume most of the info would also apply to Ontario.  Search “MOFGA sweet potatoes” in Google to find it.

    (Sorry, I could not post link directly in my comment … they get caught in the spam filter!  Ouch!)

  10. diana

    Thank you for letting me know……. I will try and check out that information.

  11. SC

    Would you also be able to connect me with Bob P., please? I know it’s too late to order slips for my community garden plot this season, but I like to plan ahead. Thanks very much, and I look forward to reading more of your blog :)

  12. majid niknezhd

    hello my friend i am from Iran and around 10 years ago until now i cultivation sweet potato. i have one quastion, from direct cultivation sweet potato ( tuber ) my product in compare seedling is not uniform. how i can get good harvseting from tuber sweet potato?

    thanks a lot
    Majid from Iran

  13. I am eating some of my Montréal-grown sweetpotatoes on a daily basis now.  Very good, very sweet indeed.  Tainung 65 is the variety that yelded the best for me, followed by Frazier White. So far, they’re keeping fine at room temperature.  Tainung 65 as an annoying habit of sprouting early, while Frazier White has no sprout yet.
     
    The book from Ken Allen was very helpful in this experiment.  Very much recommended.
     
    I just moved in a new region, in zone 4b.  It’s pretty cool here, so I am not sure it will yeld as well here as it did in warmer Montréal.  We’ll see.  I am already sprouting some and I am hoping for vine cutting.  Otherwise, the smaller roots that will survive the rest of the winter will be sprouted in May.

  14. Rob Baker

    Hi

    I live just north of Barrie Ontario, I would like to purchase some tubers to be able to grow some slips.
    I am wondering if anyone knows where I might be able to get these tubers in this area.

    Regards

    Rob Baker

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