Are your average potatoes getting too boring? Do you want more vitamin A and beta-carotene in your diet? Have you ever wondered if you can grow sweet potatoes in your New England home garden? You are in luck! You can even start your own ‘slips’ (shoots that have sprouted directly from the root), without having to buy transplants from the greenhouse. Keep reading to find out more!!
Sweet potatoes are very vulnerable to chilling injury, so planting them in New England is a game of timing. At Farm to You NH, we started our slips on March 22nd, about 6-8 weeks before they are ready to be transplanted to the field.
Trays of varying sizes are suitable for starting slips. These have about 3 inches of soilless potting media, placed on top of a heating mat.
Sweet potatoes are sprayed with BioWorks RootShield (to protect from root damaging fungi) before they are placed on their side in the trays.
Then the sweet potatoes are covered completely with potting media and watered in.
Once the sprouts are about 2-4 inches tall you can transplant them into individual pots or directly to the field, depending on the outside temperature (constantly above freezing at night).
Individual, separated slips look like this.
The slips at Farm to You NH will continue to grow until environmental conditions are about 65F. Transplant into black plastic on a cloudy day to avoid desiccation and immediately water in.
Click (https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource006096_Rep8608.pdf) to learn more about growing sweet potatoes in New England, what varieties work best, and harvest information from Dr. Becky Sideman at UNH Extension.