For many years now, my family and I have been putting as much effort as possible into growing food at home and encouraging our friends and family to do the same.
One of our latest recultivation projects features store bought, organic sweet potatoes placed in an environment that encourages slip production which we have now planted into a galvanized steel raised bed
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We planted these early in summer time. We are residing within South Florida grow zones 10A and 10B.
Due to the extremely hot weather and humidity, many of the edible plants that we consume regularly do not become available until after the hot summer months have passed and temperatures begin to cool.
However, in our particular grow zone, there a few edible plants that either do well, or actually prefer to grow during the hotter months of the year. One of these plants are the Sweet Potato.
What Is A Sweet Potato?
Known for its starchy texture and sweet flavor, sweet potatoes are a member of the Convolvulaceae family of morning glory plants. Ipomoea batatas is the scientific name for it.
It's important to remember that sweet potatoes are NOT closely related to potatoes, which are a member of the nightshade family, despite their common name.
Smooth skinned sweet potatoes come in a range of hues from white to yellow, red, purple, or brown. Additionally, the internal flesh can be white, orange, or even purple.
Sweet potatoes are full of minerals and other nutrients that improves immunity, support eye health, and serve as antioxidants in the body.
In the kitchen, sweet potatoes are also adaptable. They can be used in both savory and sweet cuisines and can be roasted, mashed, boiled, baked, or even fried.
Due to their natural sweetness, they are frequently used in desserts, particularly pies, and their starchy texture makes them a tasty addition to heavy foods. In many regions of the world, they are a common diet.
Have you ever considered the journey a sweet potato takes from the supermarket shelf to your dinner plate? Today, we'll take a different path – a path from the supermarket to the soil. You'll discover how to give a store-bought sweet potato new life in your garden.
Understanding Sweet Potatoes
Before we go on our sweet potato journey, let's take a moment to understand these versatile tubers. Sweet potatoes, with their vibrant color and sweet flavor, are not only tasty but also packed with nutritional value.
There's a special thrill in growing your own food, and sweet potatoes make an excellent starting point. They are hardy, adaptable, and will yield a decent harvest even for novice gardeners. Plus, growing your own sweet potatoes can help reduce your carbon footprint and promote sustainable living.
Let's start our recultivation journey!
Preparing for Recultivation
Before you get your hands dirty, there are a few things to consider:
Choosing the Right Sweet Potato:
Look for a mature, organic sweet potato from the supermarket. Ensure it is firm, well-shaped, and shows no signs of rot. Organic sweet potatoes are ideal as they haven't been treated with sprout inhibitors, commonly used in conventional ones.
You'll need toothpicks, a jar of water, and a sunny windowsill. Later on, you'll also need a pot or garden space, potting soil, and compost or a slow-release fertilizer.
Sweet potatoes prefer a sunny location and well-drained soil. If you live in a colder climate, it's better to grow sweet potatoes in pots so you can move them indoors when temperatures drop.
Now that you're ready let's move on to the exciting part – the step-by-step recultivation process.
Step-by-Step Process of Regrowing Sweet Potatoes
1)Preparing the Supermarket-Bought Sweet Potato:
Start by cleaning the sweet potato thoroughly. Insert three to four toothpicks around the middle, then suspend it over a jar of water with the pointy end down.
Now place it on a sunny windowsill. It is recommended to change the water every couple of days, but we did not do this.
We simply added more water to the sweet potato jar as the roots and slips developed and absorbed it and brought the levels down.
2) Planting the Sweet Potato:
After a few weeks, when the sweet potato starts sprouting and roots appear, you will also notice the slips begin to grow out of the top of the sweet potato.
At this point, some people just plant the whole tuber. Instead of doing this, we decided to separate the slips and set them in their own jar of water until roots formed on each slip.
If you're planting in a pot, choose one that is at least 10 inches deep and equally wide.
Fill it with potting soil and compost, leaving about an inch at the top. Lay the sweet potato on the soil surface and cover it with an inch of soil.
Instead of in pots, we decided to go another route for this stage of the process. We simply took the slips that were growing, and planted them directly in our
Although you can grow these tubers in pots and totes, we really wanted to try and maximize our yield this season. We began with planting just one section of the raised bed with the slips and other companion plants such as basil, oregano, thyme, and marigolds. Although other people have successfully companion planted, our sweet potatoes eventually just took over the whole bed.
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3) Daily Care and Maintenance:
Water your sweet potato regularly, ensuring the soil is always moist but not waterlogged. Make sure it receives at least six hours of sunlight every day.
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In cooler climates, if you have them in manageable pots, consider moving the plant indoors or providing some kind of protection on colder nights.
The only downside to planting in a raised bed is that you have to choose the best location before initial set up because the bed will be there for quite some time.
4) Identifying Signs of Successful Growth: Look for a vigorous vine growth and heart-shaped leaves – these are positive signs. Don't worry if the original sweet potato rots; this is a part of the process, and by then, the plant will be nourishing itself.
5) Troubleshooting Common Problems:
The most common issues are under-watering, over-watering, and insufficient sunlight.
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If the leaves look wilted, try watering more. If the leaves turn yellow, you may be overwatering. Remember, sweet potatoes love the sun, so ensure they get plenty of it.
Harvesting and Beyond
Generally speaking, after about 4 months, your sweet potato vine should be ready for harvesting. We tend to keep them in the ground a little longer to give more time to mature.
When the time has elapsed, and you are ready to harvest, remove all foliage from the raised bed. Then, gently dig around the base of the plant, being careful not to damage the tubers.
Once harvested, let the sweet potatoes cure in a warm, humid place for about two weeks to improve their sweetness and storage life.
Congratulations! You've just grown your own sweet potatoes from supermarket produce. They can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months.
What's next? Well, you can cook these fresh sweet potatoes, or even better, start the next cycle of cultivation, contributing more to your sustainable living journey.
There you have it – a journey from supermarket to soil, transforming a store-bought sweet potato into a thriving plant in your home garden.
This sustainable and rewarding process not only produces delicious tubers but also adds a dash of green to your surroundings.
They even produce these beautiful and captivating flowers below. Ready to begin your sweet potato recultivation journey?