Sweet Potato update.



A month ago I started some sweet potatoes slips.

You’re bored already aren’t you?

That’s O.K.  I know that only about 5 of you out there care about growing sweet potatoes but since you’re the 5 smartest, prettiest, handsomest, most charming ones out there I’ll continue to write these sweet potato updates.

Also I’m obsessed with sweet potatoes and growing them.  Plus it’s my blog, so there’s that.

A month ago I decided it was time to start trying to force my sweet potatoes into making sweet potato slips.  But my sweet potatoes weren’t viable because I had let them get too cold in my mud room over the winter.  So I bought some from the grocery store and hoped for the best.  They rooted right away.

So a month ago my sweet potato experiment looked like this …




A few little roots started to sprout out immediately.

Now a month later my sweet potato slip experiment (with a store bought sweet potato) looks like this.




That’s pretty impressive.

When slips get to be this size it’s time to pull them off.




Just grab the base of the slip and twist it off.




I just realized I haven’t been particularly funny or entertaining yet.

No wonder you don’t like these sweet potato posts.

After you’ve pinched off the slips you just put them in a glass with some water in it so the slips can form roots.  If your sweet potatoes form their slips at the same time they can be planted outside (when it’s really warm out and the soil is warm) you can plant them right in the soil without having any roots on them at all.  Just pinch off the slip and put it in the dirt. It’ll form it’s roots there in no time.

Where I am in Zone 6b, the sweet potato slips can’t be planted out until June 1st, so that means I’m going to have to deal with these sweet potato slips for 2 months.  I didn’t really expect them to grow this quickly.

Normally my sweet potato slips are really slow to grow, but this year I really paid attention to making sure the had the right conditions for growing.  Dark and over 80 degrees for initial sprouting and light and over 80 degrees for growing slips.

Turns out if you do things right they generally work.



I should be honest with you here.  Part of the reason this post is really boring isn’t just because it’s about sweet potatoes which you probably think are kindda boring.

It’s because I’m listening to a course by Penelope Trunk on all the characteristics of various Myers Briggs personality types while I’m writing this post. I thought I could just listen to the first 5 minutes or so and then get back to my writing, but that was an hour ago and I’m OBSESSED.  For something I really thought what just a load of crap, I’m amazingly sucked into it.

It’s absolutely fascinating.  If you missed my original post on figuring out what personality type you are,  you should have a look. She talks about which personality types are the nutters, which ones are the doers, how to interact with other personality types that are the opposite of you and how you can use your  understanding of other types at work to better deal with someone who you just can’t seem to understand at allll.

Like I said.  I’ve instantly become obsessed.  If it can distract me from my writing AND sweet potatoes you know there’s gotta be something to it.

I actually emailed Penelope to tell her how she was kind of ruining my life with how great this stuff was.  A sweet potato on the other hand isn’t likely to ever ruin your life.

If you want more information on the Myers Briggs types (because you’re fascinated by it like me) my Friday post is going to have some really good information in it.  AND it will also have something extra special.

Penelope agreed to let me share one of her video classes on my site with you.  It is the only time she’s ever done this, and it’s exclusive to us Art of Doing Stuff folks.

The sweet potato on the other hand, is pretty much available to anyone.

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”5342563″]



  1. lin says:

    ok I am confused. One post said put potato in sunny window to sprout and this post said dark and 80 degrees. Help

  2. Tonia says:

    I also have slips growing quickly this go around. It’s good for me cause I got a late start. I’ve had little luck and ever year say I’m not planting anything. This year I decided to cage plant last minute. I have potatoes growing nicely. And was lucky enough to find an organic sweet with several slips budding so that helped

    • Tonia says:

      Wow sorry just noticed these comment where last year /: hope your crop was good.

      • Karen says:

        Ha! That’s fine! Yes, the sweet potato crop last year was good! This year my sweet potato slips are reallyyyy slow to start so I managed to get 20 or so. Don’t forget that sweet potatoes need a lot of heat to grow, so growing them in black pots helps or covering the soil of the bed you plant them in with black plastic a week or so before you plant them will heat up the soil and keep it warm all summer. ~ karen!

  3. Michelle says:

    Came here looking for an image transfer article and have learned so much more. Haven’t checked in on you for a while, glad to be back. Off to submerge my sweet potato and search for that article!

  4. James says:

    Well that explains a lot.. darn it! lol

  5. James says:

    I am wondering if that classifies me as one of the nutters you mentioned..

  6. James says:

    I would say making sweet potatoes from slips is very interesting. Caught my eye right away… only if I had a patch of dirt or equivalent to do something with sweet potato slips. Currently I am restricted to fermenting things like tea and rice..and teff flour.. and anything else that ferments nicely without needing patches of dirt.

    I am an ENFP borderline INFP.. I don’t know if that means anything or not.

  7. Kateswist says:

    Here is my sweet potato vine that has been growing in my office for at least three years. Its even vining into the plant hanging next to it.

  8. Coleen says:

    You think there is no difference between “test” and ” questionnaire”?
    More superficial than I can deal with.
    You have pretty much missed the point of MBTI if you think it comes down to being upset over “one word”.
    You are right about one thing. No place for me

  9. Anne says:

    I live on Vancouver Island, the warm part, and wonder, is it too late to start this process? I love sweet potatoes and if it’s as much fun to dig them as it is to dig Irish potatoes, I’m in. The yearly treasure hunt!
    Also, just a small suggestion. Sometimes it would be helpful to be able to link the comments with the geographical source. The ACRE of sweet potatoes did make me think the author was from the southern US.
    Love your blog.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne. You should be fine to start some sweet potatoes now. Just do like I explained in my earlier post on it. Keep them in a dark, very warm cupboard until they start to show sprouts, then bring them out and let them grow. 🙂 ~ karen!

  10. Teresa Jennings Richardson says:

    As a kid, we always had a huge garden (It had to feed the 7 of us plus all the company we had as ours was the gathering place for friends and family–probably because we always had that great homegrown food.) Anyway, our sweet potato patch was about an acre in size and placed away from the rest of the garden. Daddy always bought the sweet potato slips in bundles of 100. I often wondered about how they were created–did one take a long vine, cut it into shorter pieces and stick them in water to root? But it didn’t worry me enough to try. So I just loved the little lesson today. Mama always had a beautiful potato vine growing on the kitchen window sill. I can’t imagine why we didn’t grow our own slips–Maybe we never had an potatoes left over at the end of the season. I just might grow me some slips and have a small sweet potato patch for myself

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa! Apparently up until fairly recently the process to grow sweet potato slips was kind of a secret! So it could just be he wasn’t exactly sure how to do it successfully. Plus … an ACRE of sweet potato slips??!! That’s a LOT of slips to grow, lol. ~ karen!

  11. Sally says:

    Last year I had a sweet potato spontaneously grow in my kitchen so I put it in a jar with water and documented its growth on facebook. Eventually potted it, because I live in an apartment, and I was the prettiest plant I had. Never got flowers and don’t know about baby sweet potatoes I never checked the pot after die off. I think I will do it again this year.

  12. Mindy says:

    And now I can see Cynthia’s comment, so that answers that.

    • Cynthia says:

      Damn. I was hoping one of us was drunk! 😉

    • Karen says:

      No, no. That doesn’t answer that. She thought you were talking about sweet potatoes both times you mentioned potatoes. That’s what I was confused about drunkie. You’re right that you cut regular potatoes into “chits” or chunks and plant them deep underground. Sweet potatoes are grown entirely differently than regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes are grown from those vines that you grow then break off the plants. They’re hilariously self sufficient those vines. When you order them through the mail they just throw them in a baggie and stick them in the mail. They’ll be mailed clean across the country, arrive half dead, but you put them in the ground and they instantly start growing. A regular potato would never be so kind. Back to your hooch. ~ karen!

      • Cynthia says:

        My ESFJ self is crushed because I was wrong. My farmer ancestors are also rolling in their graves. They grew corn though…sweet potatoes were too fancy for them.

        • Karen says:

          It is one of the more fanciful vegetables. Sweet potatoes would never be friends with corn. Corn would be friends with … cabbage I think. ~ karen!

  13. Mindy says:

    Soooo, why do pull the slips off the sweet potato, opposed to cutting chunks on regular potatoes to plant? Which I’m growing for the first time this year, by the way.

    • Karen says:

      Say again? ~ karen!

      • Cynthia says:

        An ESFJ here…I think I can interpret Mindy’s comment. Mindy, I imagine that you could plant the eye of a sweet potato and it would grow but they need a long growing time and are very temperature sensitive compared to regular potatoes. Maybe if you lived in the west or south (US) you could sow them directly in the ground. In the north though, starting the slips inside gives them a head start which gives you sweet potatoes by the fall chill.

        Also, Penelope Trunk? This IS the best blog ever.

      • Mindy says:

        Apparently I’m drunk. That sorta came out incorrectly. Let’s use a russet as an example. Would you do the same thing? I always thought you just whacked chunks off wherever there was an eye, and then planted that. Are sweet potatoes different, or is this just another way of doing potatoes in general?

  14. N says:

    I love the sweet potato info, does that make me pretty and charming?

    I shoved some sweet potato slips (that accidentally sprouted in my pantry) into a pot of soil and they are growing wonderfully.

    Also love the personality testing. I’m ESTJ.

  15. sj says:

    Last fall I harvested the seeds from a couple of the white baby boo pumpkins and kept them in an envelope in the crisper bin in the fridge. I’d never done anything like that before. I took some out a few days ago and placed in a jar with a wet paper towel, and they’ve sprouted!!! So excited. Except, I live in a condo and nowhere to plant them. Bummer.

  16. Elysa A. says:

    I had a sweet potato last year that had sprouted, so for kicks I just plopped it whole into a hole in my garden and forgot about it. Right before we had a freeze hubby and I decided to dig around and see if we got anything. To our surprise we dug up about 3-4 pounds of usable potatoes. Here is a photo of our harvest. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204398918469629&l=d8c04930ed

  17. Bonnie says:

    I am such a fan of yours that I might try to change my Myers-Briggs type. Not really. My mother is a J and she is way too critical. Not so much of me, but of everyone on TV. Too negative. You don’t seem so critical, so maybe one can be a J without the negativity. See, I am so not a J that I cannot even judge Js.

    About the sweet potatoes–A neighbor just gave me a greenhouse! It is about an 8×8 octagon (of course) with PVC pipe frame and some kind of cover. He also gave me a set of shelves and 8 lights. He just didn’t want it any more. I am so excited! I am also surprised that you don’t have a greenhouse in which you could start all of your plants ahead of planting and even keep some going all year. I am sure that a woman who built a wonderful chicken coup could make a greenhouse. Even a J.

  18. I don’t think I have enough space to grow sweet potatoes. Can you grow them in small spaces?

  19. lavacha says:

    Another one of the 5, five being the new dozen 😉 I can report roots and 7 tiny bulges that may become slips. And now I’m reading up on Penelope Trunk…

  20. I actually like your sweet potato posts, but then again I really like sweet potatoes! Where I live I can chop off bits of sweet potatoes, which have gotten a bit squirrely on my counter, pop them in my garden and sweet potato plants take off! And harvesting them is like a treasure hunt with dirt and worms! Keeping pre-cooked, pre-measured sweet potatoes in the freezer enables quick and easy pie making! Sweet Potato Pie: http://blog.growingthewholechild.com/sweet-potato-pie-for-breakfast/

  21. Ella says:

    I’m 1 of the 5! I followed the first post and now have slips, and was wondering what to do with them until now!! So here I go to pinch my slips and put them in a glass 🙂 THANKS!

  22. Mary Werner says:

    I had no idea you could eat the leaves of the sweet potato – need to give that a try. BUT the leaves of the white potato are POISON (like tomato, squash, pumpkin leaves) so just wanted to remind others not to try them. My favorite green is beet greens which I grew for the greens more than the beets. My sweet potato slips are progressing but slowly (store bought) and my 6 yo granddaughter is enthralled and turns the jar each day to give each of the leaves a turn at the bright light. I so love your blog and get up and do it now coaching.

  23. IRS says:

    Hmmm. I wonder which personality type I am? Whichever one is the weirdest and most perverse, no doubt. I left a sweet potato on my kitchen island, buried under some paper grocery sacks and other assorted detritus. Rather than eating it, I enjoyed the numerous slips coming off of it that I saw when I finally removed the crap on top of it. So I turned a food item into greenery. Quite conversely, a few years ago I pulled a sweet potato vine (the kind you buy for your planters) out of its pot at the end of the season, and finding a nice plump potato in the soil, I promptly ate it. It was delicious, and since I’m still here, obviously not poisonous. So in that case I turned greenery into a food item. See what I mean about being weird and perverse? Anyway, after Karen’s last post, some of us (OK just me) were discussing how Pinterest instructions never seem to yield a promising result. This is a case in point. I got the idea a couple of years ago about sprouting a grocery store sweet potato into a houseplant, because I’m cheap, and I have sprouted just about everything in the produce department over the years. Sometimes intentionally. So of course I turned to Pinterest, which told me to stick the thing halfway into a glass of water. Which works great. For a while. It sprouts lovely little mini vines, but soon after that, the vines die, and the sweet potato turns into a foul smelling blob of sludge, and grows mold in colors not previously known to science. I kept thinking I was the idiot who couldn’t do it right, and Pinterest was of no help. Finally, after many wasted hours of searching the net, I discovered exactly what Karen told us here. When the slips are several inches high, twist them off at the base of the potato, place the slips back into some clean water, and in less than a week they will form lovely roots. You can then plant the slips into soil (I like a hanging pot) for use as greenery or as food. And for the love of God, get rid of the original sweet potato before it turns into something straight out of The Exorcist.

  24. Hudson Valley says:

    Hi, Karen ++,

    yes, I grew some– a couple times– in window box on porch– easier to find tubers in box. Got little cute baby sweets. yum.

    On a totally different: thinking abt your upcoming workshop:
    questions abt getting things done. Here are dilemmas of mine, and possibly others. I agree with myself) to, for example, clear the papers from my kitchen table. that was days ago. It was a reasonable thing to agree to do. It is perhaps half done.
    So, one big question for me is getting started.
    Part of this, is at your doorstep: I work outside of home, and still spend too much time on your blog! (ie, on-line, and on email.) This despite having (again) agreed with self to first get up, dressed and ready to leave before touching the computer. (And I was never hooked to TV as I am to computer (haven’t had TV in ages.)
    This was an excellent system. As long as I did it. Then, I strayed. and strayed. and today, am astray.
    And, I will say, I am not overall bad at getting things done, once started. Not your brilliance nor ambition. Much much more inertia. that is it: Overcoming Inertia!!
    You could have a brilliant nother Career as the Queen of OI!

  25. Ellen says:

    I bought a sweet potato a month ago and it’s still on the counter…………….
    Think I’ll go put it in a jar of water right now!!

  26. Christie says:

    Do you leave the potato in the water until it sprouts the slips or take it out once you see those spidery web thing roots? I LOVE sweet potatoes!! I might try this (to eat them).

  27. Ann says:

    Here I am, way further south and closer to planting slips outside, and I have none started. I do have some SP’s stored out in our 2nd garage apartment, where they stay decently warm all winter(best to store sweets where they never get too cold). I bet there may already be some sprouting going on with those and I will not be all the far behind after all.

    My husband has to leave me for over 3 months this summer to go thru radiation treatments. So I have pared my garden down considerably and have planted more stuff that will mature after he gets back. Just a little bit of the spring stuff such as lettuce, broccoli and such. But sweet potatoes are one of his favorites. The chickens love to have a cooked and cooled sweet potato to eat and the rabbits love the foliage for dinner. So I guess today, I must deal with making sure I get those slips in order.

    We talk Myers-Briggs here all the time. My husband is at the top of the ISTJ catagory. And we have to often laugh at how judgemental he is. Black and white, right or wrong, no shades of grey. And I am so the total opposite. But after almost 40 years, I think we are who we are and we will make it to the end, no matter what letters are assigned to our personalities!

    • Amber says:

      Ann, all my best wishes to you and your husband during those three months. Glad you are preparing the garden for his return! I’d come back from anything if someone is cooking dinner for me: zombie attack, apocalypse, political congress, who cares? Just don’t call me late to dinner.

  28. Tigersmom says:

    I was, at first, confused by the “naked” sweet potatoes in the background of the third photo. Then I figured out through the miracle of reading-the-rest-of-the-post that they will continue to produce slips and even more of them. Who knew?

  29. tajicat says:

    I’m interested too. I have only grown sweet potatoes for inside greenery, they are so easy to grow. I tried growing regular potatoes outside last year, I did something wrong, they just didn’t grow right. The last time I grew potatoes, I was little. Maybe I will try sweet potatoes this year.

    • Mary Werner says:

      I have grown white potatoes and found the easiest way is to plant them on top of the ground and then cover them with about a foot of straw or hay. Then their leaves grow through the hay and when you want to get a potato, you can just lift up the “skirt” and gently pull off the few that are large enough letting the rest mature. Easy peasy. I did have trouble in the beginning but found I HAD to mound loose dirt around the potato since for some reason they need very loamy soil to produce – hence I changed to the straw method. Sweet potatoes are a little different but so worth the effort to find the way you like best to grow.

  30. Ann Brookens says:

    I feel I should comment on your post just because I’ll be among the first few to do so!
    I’ve grown sweet potato vines in the past because at one time a lot of people I knew had them draped over their windows or around their rooms. (People talked about how long their vines were and whose were the longest.) They are a cheap houseplant and easy to grow. Also, if they die, you didn’t spend a lot of money on them so you don’t feel as bad about it. On the other hand, I never knew anyone to plant them outside in order to grow more sweet potatoes from them, oddly enough. Never occurred to me, either. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  31. Markus says:

    I eont know ir ai am as excited about your blog about sweet potatoes as you are about amyers Briggs types, but I am fascinated! I will probably not read about the personality types, but I WILL read the update on them potatoes! Maybe I’m more a potato person than a people person?

    The most fascinating thing is that I don’t know what you are doing? My experience in growing “regular” potatoes is that you put it in the ground and they will grow. All this slip cutting seems odd. Maybe the answer is in previous posts. I am a rather recent follower so I got quite thrown into this potato business.

    I have enjoyed reading every post k have read so far. Great job. I came for silcscreened t-shirts but I might stay for the sweet potatoes!

    • Karen says:

      HI Markus! Yes, I’ve been growing sweet potatoes for years and showing people little bits on how to do it themselves. It’s a bit of a weird process. Way different than regular potatoes. Glad you’re one of the 5 to enjoy the sweet potato posts! ~ karen

      • Meg says:

        /me raises hand pick me!! pick me!!
        I also enjoy sweet potato posts !

        6 !

        I grew a sweet potato once. It climbed behind a poster and pulled it off the wall. That’s when I put it outside.

  32. Nicole says:

    Ok…So I can’t say I am pretty or smart but I am one of those who love to follow your sweet potato posts. In fact I have been reading them since last year and was inspired to start some myself this year. I started mine in late January. I have had so many slips growing and keep growing its nuts! I have even potted some in soil. Its a good thing too…spring is taking its time and it looks like my veggie garden will need as much indoor help as it can get! Thanks for the inspiration!

  33. Holly Hold says:

    This is a new one, and sorry to whine, but; when I clicked to go to the “sample Myers-Briggs test” I’m routed to a nice, wide page with numbered questions, a Results button, but…the choices, which I presume are on the far right end of each question, are out of reach of my little HP tablet, and will NOT squeeze onto my screen no matter what! Now, I’m intrigued but frustrated. IBF. Thanks for the sweet potato slips post, its lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. That’s no fun. And it takes a while to answer those questions. I’m not sure how to solve that one. ~ karen

  34. Dawn says:

    Thanks for posting about Penelope Trunk! I had no idea she existed and now I’ve just gone down the rabbit hole reading on her site. Apparently, as an ISFJ, I’m actually doing exactly what I should be doing by being a stay at home mother and wife. Not that I needed to know that, because I’m happy doing what I do, but it’s always great to know you’re on the right track. I’m also fascinated by the Myers-Briggs and really look forward to any more information you post.

  35. Cynthia Jones says:

    I must have “zoned out” for the last post on sweet potatoes, I don’t remember it. I am fond of sweet potatoes because I used to sit on the footpath (sidewalk) when I was very small and dig them up out of the ground, brush the dirt off and eat them. I also used to collect strawberries from the lady up the street with a bucket. A bucket, can you believe it?

    Love Myers Briggs. Almost as good as the DSM IV (Diagnostic Statistical Manual for diagnosing mental health disorders). Great idea with the post on it on Friday. I look forward to it.

  36. Sheryl says:

    So silly question coming. I’m fascinated with sweet potato slips now but now wondering what are they for? To grow new sweet potatoes or are they the gorgeous vines people post on Pinterest for the drapy feature in their container plants? Please enlighten this sweet potato vine virgin!

    • Karen says:

      Funny! I never even *thought* that I’d better mention these were for growing sweet potatoes, lol. But yes you’re right people do grow them for the vines too. When you buy that beautiful lime green or dark wine coloured vine for planters it isn’t the same thing, although they do grow tubers! I’ve never tried to eat one but I’m sure it’s perfectly edible. The leaves on the sweet potato vine like I’m growing are also edible, although I didn’t know that until a reader told me about it last year! ~ karen

      • Pam'a says:

        One year around Thanksgiving I was cleaning out one of my pots and dug up the ornamental sweet potato tuber that had grown in it all summer. It looked nothing like a sweet potato; it was more like an extra from a sci-fi movie with tons of weird, twisty fingers.

        So of course, my first thought was, “I wonder if we can eat this?”

        I brought it in, cleaned it up, and prepared it as if it were a normal vegetable. And it tasted like one! Not quite as flavorful as a regular sweep potato, but then, it was bred for its gorgeous foliage. But it’s doable, and would amaze the kids.

        • Karen says:

          Even sweet potatoes don’t taste like sweet potatoes unless you cure them! They just taste bland with no sweetness. So if you cured them it might have actually tasted like a sweet potato! ~ karen

        • Pam'a says:

          Isn’t freezing supposed to do that? It certainly was after the first freeze. If not, tell me about this curing you speak of!

        • Karen says:

          Not exactly. I know what you mean though. Freezing will start to convert the starches to sugars in things like carrots and regular potatoes. With a sweet potato freezing generally just damages them. Curing sweet potatoes involves letting them dry in the air and then keeping them at over 80 degrees fahrenheit with at least 80% humidity for a couple of weeks. I wrote about it in this post. ~ karen!

  37. brenda says:

    ok so I’m # one of the 5 … I’ve done EVERYTHING YOU SAID (two weeks ago) AND my sweetP has become quite a hit in my home (I live alone) … I’ve been tickling it and FINALLY yesterday a slip broke through the skin and now we’re seeing one other little crack that looks promising … my sweetP has about 8zillion roots … I have never been so happy to hear that maybe if we have until 1 June here in Toronto Area that this might just happen

    I just tweeted a pic of sweet pea for us to see here on twitter


    • Karen says:

      O.K., #1, your Twitter handle has the word “garden” in it, so yes you’re one of the five for sure, lol. Took a look at the photo. YES! You definitely have slips starting. In 2 weeks or so they’ll be huge and they’ll just keep coming. Once you snap them off more will continue to grow and grow. Nice work. ~ karen!

      • brenda says:

        this is so exciting … that is very cool that when I snap off the vines more will continue to grow … thank you for showing us this early enough that we can follow along.

        BTW – I wasn’t sure which end was the pointy end but when I noticed my sweetP looked a lot like a baby seal, I knew I couldn’t put him face down in the water and feel good about it so now that roots have grown out of the bottom end and vines have started out of the top … well – what can I say … next year I am going to buy a potato with just one pointy end 😉

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