On March 17, I put a sweet potato in a jar of water. Here is the potato two months and a bit later, as of May 21.
The potato idea came from the YouTube show “Off Grid with Doug and Stacy,” the episode “Start your Potatoes Now No Matter Where You Are.” People in my life are starting to glaze over and zone out whenever I go on and on about Doug and Stacy, so maybe it’s time to stop talking and just write about them instead. Their website https://offgridwithdougandstacy.com is action packed with good ideas.
(Hey Mary, if they are off grid, how did they film their show? It’s a cell phone camera charged up with their truck battery. Doug explained the whole setup.) Ok, on with the potatoes.
In this video, Stacy’s instructions start at minute 10:45 or so. Here’s the libretto: While you can plant white potatoes early, around St. Patrick’s Day, the sweet potatoes are different; they don’t like cold weather, so they need to be planted later, when the soil temp is about 65 F or higher. Orange sweet potatoes take longer to sprout, and purple Molokai potatoes sprout more quickly. Use organic potatoes, because many commercial ones are sprayed to keep them from sprouting. Use wide-mouthed jars, and fill them with filtered water (tap water generally has chlorine). No need to submerge the potato; place just the bottom 2″ or so of the rounded bottom part of the tater in the jar of water. Hold it in place by driving in 3 toothpicks; the pointy end of the tater should face up. Set the jar in the sun. Change the water every week or so. Watch for tiny roots to form out the bottom, and green stems and leaves to grow out the top. Those stems are your slips. When a slip is about 6″ long, you can pinch it off right at the bottom closest to the potato. Place the slip stem in a glass of water. When the roots on the slip grow to 6″ long or so, plant the slip in a pot of dirt. Here is a happy little slip that grew in water just this week. The weather is warm now, so the slips and roots are growing much faster.
When the weather is warm enough, transplant the tater from the pot to the earth, or give it to your gardening friends as a somewhat unique present. I’ve never seen sweet potato plants for sale at a nursery, and maybe the friends haven’t either. One tater can grow even up to 15 slips, and each slip when full grown can grow up to 5 lbs. of potatoes. Not a bad return on an investment.
My original potato in water is still growing little slips. It makes a nice leafy house plant, and while it grows I’ll just keep growing and planting and giving the little ones away. Our produce market had a couple of reject-bin sweet potatoes starting to sprout, so I snapped those up and put them in water too.
When you eat your sweet potato, eat it with the peel and all. Also add a little fat — like avocado, or nut butter. Stacy says that if you do, the glycemic levels will stay steadier. Thank you Stacy!