Last May I received a long-awaited package from a company headquartered in the East. The package contained two small bundles of very small-looking sweet potato slips.
|Amazingly, the slips came out of a dented package out unharmed!|
In the past, I had always produced sweet potato slips myself from sweet potatoes, and knowing that the daytime temperatures were already topping above 95 degrees Fahrenheit I thought it wise to start some of my plants in pots or vases indoors before planting them out in the garden. This was a type of experiment to see what method of planting would work best. The three different methods I tried were slip to garden, slip to pot to garden, and slip to vase to garden.
|How my package arrived in the mail.|
|The package got a little dented. I'm grateful the slips made it.|
General Sweet Potato Background: Sweet potatoes like a lot of light. By a lot of light I mean full sun in very hot, sunny places. Established plants do not require shade and are able to endure brutally hot environments. What sweet potatoes do have difficulty with is a lack of light. Any kind of environment in which plants are not receiving direct sun will make the plants dither or at least grow slowly.
Though I put my indoor plants directly under windows, they had difficulty growing very well because they did not receive enough full sun. Most of the slips that I put in pots had difficulty establishing themselves indoors and did worse than those put out in the garden. Slips I put in vases did exhibit more root growth, which was helpful when it came to transplanting them in the garden. The constant sterile water supply was helpful, though a lack of direct sunlight was not. Slips that were put directly in the garden exhibited significant wilting over the first 10 days but did better after about 14 days. Filtered shading from a shade cloth helped minimize wilting until the plants could establish themselves well.
Recommendations: Based on my experience with mail order sweet potatoes I would recommend that the gardener either allow sweet potato slips to establish themselves in a vase that receives an abundance of direct sun or put the slips in the garden with filtered shade, such as shadecloth, until the plants become established. As filtered sun could decrease plant growth, and possibly yield, I would think that any shadecloth or filtered sun provides only a temporary benefit to the sweet potato slips as they are becoming established.
One additional thought: Previously I had posted about a microbial product that is supposed to increase plant growth in the garden. The name of the Product is EM-1 and it is produced by Teraganix. The initial application of EM-1 seemed to have no impact on my garden. After two weeks of application no signs of increased growth or plant vigor were noticed. However, after 6 weeks of the initial application the sweet potato slips that were growing exhibited a dramatic increase in growth. The increase in plant growth was not imagined, but is very real. Though previous sweet potato growth did not move several feet past my garden, my current sweet potato vines have grown at least 10 feet past the confines of my garden. Neighbors are probably wondering why I have what looks like ivy growing out into my alley. My experience with EM-1 has taught me that it is an incredibly effective inoculant in growing sweet potatoes. I will be sure to continue to use this product for this purpose, in the future!