Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Sweet Potatoes - again

Sweet Potatoes - again

More of an update to remind me what to do and not to do for next year.

Several sweet potato slips have been planted out into large tubs. The original potato is still producing slips and they are growing quick. Because I haven't been cutting them off regularly several are now pushing 2 feet tall and so could be halved easily. 27 Slips taken so far from the one potato. It looks like I'll end up with over 50 slips by the time I've halved a few. The ones I've already cut up have all rooted. 

The second potato is behaving totally different. Still in water and hasn't produced many roots, but lots of small slips. 

All slips cut off have been placed in water with 100% of them rooting.

Sweet Potato slips 28th March 2017
The second potato was placed the "other way up" which I think is the top at the top, the first upside down. Two possibilities as to the difference which is one way up is far better (and it would appear upside down) or that the 2 are different varieties. Both from the same place, both called the same "American" sweet potato. The 2nd one also hasn't rotted from being in water.

The 3rd potato bought at the same time as the second and was planted in compost in the cold part of the greenhouse rotted, it was kept moist but never showed signs of growing. Simply too cold (although not actually cold), and just needed more heat.

I have placed a large tub in the green house and planted one slip a couple of weeks ago - it isn't dead but isn't growing much as I think the colder temp has slowed it down but it may be putting on a lot of root growth and I haven't looked.

I have placed 2 other very large tubs outside with a cloche over the top. One tub has 1 slip in and the other has 2 slips to see if there is a difference with crowding within a tub. One tub is a traditional plastic dustbin (not a wheelie bin but old style bin that used to have a lid. It took 2 wheel barrows of well rotted manure to fill it to 80%. The other tub is shorted but a good bit wide and took 1 and a half wheel barrows of manure.

27th March 2017
I've placed these 2 together so they get watered the same. All 3 tubs so far have the same aged manure in them.

Potted around 14th March 2017 (date to be found)

The greenhouse tub took about 1 wheel barrow load of manure. I'll measure it at some stage but I feel it maybe a tad small but I simply don't have the space for it.

I will also do another large tub in the Poly Tunnel when the seedlings that live in there go outside but this 4th tub will be full of acidic compost (when I've bought some)

The rest of the slips will be spread around the garden as and when space turns up. Some will be in wetter areas, windy areas and drier areas. Some will be in clay type soil and others good soil and some in pure manure in a dry area and I also have a wet purely manure area to try. One of the good soil areas I will add a load of acid compost as yet another difference.

I'm gonna put in a lot of effort with these this year and if they all fail....never again. Hopefully one or all will work, either way it will satisfy my curiosity as to whether I can or can't and whether it will be worth it. Then if I grow some I'll see whether they are worth selling on the market stall.

I'll keep planting them each week (ish) from now until the frosts are gone (mid may) - even then I'll have slips left over

One thing that is for sure is that the slips really want to grow and root well given warmth and at least some light. The window sill they live on is west facing and not exactly a bright place but it is over a radiator.


  1. Those two potatoes may very well be different varieties as I don't think there is any such thing as an "American" variety but there are dozens of specific varieties grown in America. I've often seen people that grow different varieties of sweet potatoes start them at different times, sometimes months apart, as some are a LOT slower to get going.

    Best of luck with all of your starts - fingers crossed that the weather cooperates and gives you plenty of heat this year!

  2. Hot country crops are hard. I've never had too much luck with aubergines or sweet corn. I know you have aubergines on the go - have you got much out of them in past years?

    1. I've only grown Aubergines once before and they were fine, can't remember the number but the size was OK. I've never thought of them as difficult. Sweetcorn has normally been OK with the main failures being me. With sweetcorn I've normally left them on the plant too long waiting for the tops of the cob to swell and while I wait the cob over ripens.

    2. I must be doing something wrong then.. my record aubergine production is 2, and the sweetcorn never seems to quite ripen by the end of the season.

    3. The Aubergines I'm growing will show whether my last attempt was fluke or not :) I have also found that a Sweetcorn that looks under ripe becomes fine when boiled and really "yellows" up in the pan. We may just have different ideas as to ripe and perhaps I'm not quite as discerning as you.