The Q&A Archives: sweet potato slips

Question: How do you start sweet potato slips?

Answer: Sweet potatoes are planted from "pips". Most Sweet Potatoes take about 100 days to mature and can be planted 2-8 weeks after your last frost date. In most years your last frost is March 30 to April 30, so you can plant from mid-May through the first of June. Sweet potatoes form best when they're given a light textured soil with lots of organic matter. If your soil is too sandy, they'll be stringy, and if the soil is too clayey, the roots will be deformed. To create the perfect environment, build long, wide, 10" inch high ridges spaced 3 1/3 feet apart. Work in plenty of compost and plant the sweet potato pips 6" inches deep and 12" inches apart. Avoid the use of fertilizers high in nitrogen, or you'll have luxurious tops and very little tuber production. Use a 5-10-10 or 8-8-8 formulation as a side-dress about 6 weeks after planting. Apply about one-inch of water to the plants every week. You can use black plastic over the soil surface to help concentrate heat around the roots of your sweet potato plants, which will increase both the size and growth rate of the tubers. Black plastic will also suppress weed growth.

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