As quickly as I updated my experiment in peanuts; this update has gone as slowly as it could in comparison. I will admit that being patient is not one of my many virtues; I could often be caught digging up seeds sown a week ago to see if there are any signs of germination. If this is you, then peanuts are the way to go not sweet potato slips; that being said it was a lot faster than the four to six weeks I was expecting.
I had two arms of the experiment set up (Experiments in (sweet) potato); a potato in soil and in water on a heat mat and without.
Growing roots do not seem to be a problem even with the unheated sweet potatoes (especially in water) the roots were able to grow. Evidence of roots could be seen as little as three days later in the heated potatoes. However, roots are all very fine but will not make me more sweet potato so what I was waiting for was the slips.
One week later I checked again (that’s a lie – I checked twice every day) there were many more roots – quite fine ones growing through the soil but quite thick ones in the water. The unheated ones are doing nothing – the one in water has grown two small roots and still looks like that to this day – I might just eat it as punishment.
Then I waited and waited for any signs of anything viable that could be called a slip; the days are long but the years are short they say – I thought that I had waited what felt like a month but the good thing about chronicling the experiments is it shows you things are not as long-winded as they seem.
In less than two weeks the first tiny minuscule bump of a slip appeared on the heated soil sweet potato; hurrah! two days later the water potato shows one tiny bump too.
Then as the slogan for one ‘highly processed barely contains potato, unusually shaped
VAT free not a potato crisp ‘ potato crisp states once you pop you can’t stop – the heated potato in soil was off at a cracking pace.
That potato now has
11 12 slips at last count – they are quite small but I think will grow quickly when they get more time under the light (sunlamp is being hogged by other veggies)
So, after all the waiting which really wasn’t waiting that long at all I might end up with 14 or so slips to choose from to plant out in the garden.
Things that I would change or do differently next year: the heated mat is the way to go – the windowsill potatoes are still yet to produce slips and the roots are minimal. I guess eventually they might grow slips but who knows when that will be.
Others have grappled with this tribulation as I found out after I set about this update (Karen from the art of doing stuff is one).
- use heat mat
- use only closed containers so there is no chance of soil drying out
- be patient
- try different arrangements
The potato in the soil was lying down but when I looked for roots/slips growing (as I can’t help digging up things to see if they are growing) I saw that the potato was growing slips even on the underneath side of the potato (the side lying in the soil) so next year I might try a different arrangement where I have the potato vertical in a pot (same orientation as the one in the water) rather than lying down in the soil.
I haven’t done it this year yet but I think I will get the slips to grow roots before I plant them (some people suggest just sticking them in the ground). I think this won’t make a difference in the end harvest but just the initial growing of the seedlings in our climate. I do this for my chitted white potatoes and I find that the chits are stronger and grow better but have never tested the harvest outcome (there is less than 10 days between photos below).
So, now I am just crossing my fingers that the slips grow stronger and thicker so that I can plant them out when the weather warms up – perhaps in a month. I will update when I am able to plant outside and we then see how the plants harvest.