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How to sprout sweet potatoes.

COUNTRYSIDE: In the Jan/Feb 2010 issue, Ken and Pat Stephens, Ohio, asked about starting sweet potatoes. I discovered how to work with them by accident.

After they are dug and then cured in 80-something degree temperatures for two weeks, they are ready to store at near room temperature. I've always had the best luck at around 60 degrees or so. Too cool, and they either rot or don't sprout.

So after curing, I lay them carefully side by side, filling the drawers of an old chest, trying to keep them from touching each other "too much," but a little is okay. At around 60-65[degrees]F they will begin to sprout in a few months. For us in the Midwest, it is usually by May, but often before. I let the sprouts continue to grow on those I want for planting. Some years they sprout earlier than I want and by May the sprouts are one or two feet long; other times they are six inches or so.

When you feel you have about a week or two before planting, carefully pull off each sprout, placing it in a glass of water. Most sprouts have leaves by this time, and they will continue to fill out. I have occasionally kept these sprouts in water for an entire year when I didn't have enough room in the garden, and didn't have the heart to just kill it. As long as you change the water regularly so that it looks fairly clear and clean, they continue to grow. When you are past the time of last killing frost and the soil is warmed, you can plant these sprouts (slips) which will have many little white roots growing from the part that is in water.

Also, we often surround each newly planted slip with a one-gallon vinegar jug whose bottom has been cut out. This miniature greenhouse really warms things inside including the soil around the sprout. At times I leave the jugs on until the sweet potato plants actually push them up in the air. Also, keep the vinegar jug lids nearby just in case of a very cold spell some night.--Linda

COUNTRYSIDE: In response to Ken and Pat Stephens about how to start your own sweet potato plants. I usually save a couple of nice big sweet potatoes, and put them in a jar of water. It doesn't have to be in water all over. Just so the one end is. It is amazing to watch plants sprout out all over the potato.

When these sprouts are five or six inches long, break them off, and put them in a jar of water and they will get roots. Then you can plant them in your garden.

You can put the potato in water in February or March. Or if I forget, April will do too.--Lavina Esh
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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:Linda; Esh, Lavina
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2010
Previous Article:Corrections.
Next Article:Hard water tips.

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