Sweet potatoes store well, but they don’t keep forever. Above are the last of our 2012 harvest. These were dug up 15 months ago. They will still be edible, but we need to use them up as soon as possible. They’ve begun to sprout and that’s a good thing.
For the last two years I’ve grown my sweet potatoes using sprouts like this, rather than starting new sprouts on a whole potato. This method is much easier. Vine cuttings would work nearly as well.
The sprouts can be broken off into small pieces, each of which becomes a plant start.
Sweet potato sprouts and vine cuttings root easily. It takes no more than sticking them into damp soil or even a glass of water. They will put out new root quickly. Almost any part of a stem or piece of vine will root. It doesn’t take much care to get it right. Temperature is important, however. Sweet potatoes like it warm.
I’ve got 42 starts in this flat. I only plant 18 potatoes each year, so I should be in great shape for my own garden and have plenty to give away. Once these little starts get established and start to put out some green, I’ll have to transplant them to much deeper boxes and spread them out. They don’t like to be shallow rooted or crowded.
Here’s a live sweet potato plant that I started last fall. It’s my back-up. I can take small sections of vine and root them, if I need to.
As an aside, Geoff told me he bought some dried sweet potato stems at an Asian grocery store in Austin. Dried sweet potato stems are used in several Korean side dishes and other Asian recipes. I read online that fresh sweet potato stems are also used. So we may soon be adding a whole new category of recipes to our sweet potato cookbook.