Mom’s Sweet Potato Hack

We’ve been working away on our quarter-acre plot, which we hope will feed all of our vegetable needs from July on, but in planning an extensive garden, sometimes you miss a chance, forget, or simply don’t have the time to start something. One of those things was sweet potatoes. We wanted to grow them, but planning out the garden was a lot busier than we thought and we totally forgot about them.

When my mom started asking about how to grow them, we were happy to have someone on the job. I immediately directed her to Google to do some research.

Sweet potatoes aren’t related to the ordinary potato. They’re in a totally different family that just happens to have a similar, tuberous root. Sweet potatoes are actually related to the Morning Glory, the vining, decorative flower. So to force them to sprout is a bit of a different story than simply leaving a potato out to chit.

Here’s how my mom did it:
1. Find a nice, local sweet-potato, and a jar it can fit into
2. Stick three toothpicks into its equator
3. Put the sweet potato in the jar, pointy end down, so it sits on the toothpicks
4. Fill the jar with water and let it sit on a sunny windowsill for a few weeks
5. As the sprouts, also called slips, begin to grow, break them off once they’re a few inches tall, and sit them in a shallow dish of water to root
6. Tranfer to soil once they’re  4-6 inches long

Most likely it’s a bit late to be starting them now, but we’re slowly building a chart to help us schedule what starts best when, and sweet potatoes are going on the calendar for March 1. It’s a nice early job to do while we’re tempted to start our vegetable seeds too early. Keep an eye on our blog for the calendar. We’ll share it once it’s done. And keep an eye out for updates on how they’re coming along throughout this growing season.


  • the same technique works for avocado. i've done it before. pretty cool to see it work. one day it just splits the big seed.

  • That is good to know. My dad was asking me how he might start growing his own avocado farm in Mexico. This tip will surely get him on that path. Thanks!

  • I always wondered how this was done. Thanks for sharing. Also congrats on the magazine article. Very exciting!

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