You might be surprised to find out that you can grow sweet potatoes from your kitchen scraps.
The inedible portions of your potatoes that you most times discard could be used to your advantage.
How To Cultivate Your Sweet Potatoes From Scraps
If you want to grow your sweet potato from scraps, you should use a whole scrap directly rather than cutting it.
The first step is to make sprouts by placing your potato scrap in a shallow container of water, half of it immersed in the water and the other half on top.
It is ideal to begin six weeks before you plant them in your garden.
You can poke toothpicks into them if your sweet potatoes are not big, allowing the toothpicks to stay on the brim of your container.
Ensure that the container is placed in a warm environment of at least 80°F.
You wouldn’t need to put them under direct light because all they need to grow is a warm environment.
2. Growth Of Sprouts
After a few days, you will notice that the root begins growing inside while the leafy sprouts will grow outside the container.
The sprouts that grow from the top half (outside the container) are known as slips.
Slips are referred to as shoots of sweet potato plants that have matured.
You will get as many as 15 slips per scrap of sweet potato.
This could result in as many as 60 individual plants.
3. Separation Of Sprouts
The next thing you should do is separate the slips from the sweet potato scrap.
Take each of the slips and twist each off of the potatoes.
Once you are done with that, each sprout should be taken and placed into a shallow water container.
The lower side of the stems should be inside the water, and the leaves should be left hanging out of the bowl.
After a few days, the lower side submerged in water will show signs of the roots beginning to grow.
Next, you may plant the slips once the roots are already one inch long.
Make sure slips without roots or wilting ones are discarded. Furthermore, ensure that you keep the water fresh.
Planting Sweet Potato Slips Grown From Scraps
After you have cultivated slips from your sweet potato scraps, you should proceed to plant them inside your garden or any location of your choice.
1. Preparation Of Soil
First, prepare your soil. You should grow your sweet potatoes in well-drained and loose soil to ensure that there are formations of large tubers.
This will ensure that the root does not encounter any resistance during the process of expansion.
If you want to successfully grow your sweet potatoes, it is essential to ensure the soil is loose.
Planting should be done 1 slip per sq. ft i.e., 1 foot in between the rows.
Use your hand trowel to plant the slips by digging a hole of 4 or 5 inches deep and about 3 inches wide.
Put one slip per hole, and make sure you allow the roots to point down.
Use dirt to cover the lower half of each slip.
The top layer containing the new leaves should be above the ground level.
However, you must take care not to bruise your sweet potato plants when filling the hole with dirt.
After this, press the plant gently to make sure the surrounding dirt is well covered.
This will not allow excess air pockets to remain.
Following that, soak your sweet potatoes in water until the surrounding dirt is moist.
Do not allow the eroding of the mound.
For week one, water the plants every day. Water them every two days for the next week.
You don’t have to water them every day for the next few weeks.
At a point, you will only need to water them once every week.
This can also vary if you have an abundance of rainfall or when the ground is too dry.
Sweet potatoes usually withstand drought, but their yield will be lower.
Harvesting Sweet Potatoes Grown From Scraps
After planting and germination, the next step is to harvest your sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes will usually stop growing after the weather becomes cold.
Harvesting should be done before the first frost so that frost does not touch vines.
They become rotten quickly from the black spot when frost touches vines.
Once the vine begins to yellow, you can proceed to harvest them.
You should stop watering a week before – this will ensure a smooth harvest.
Harvest with a digging fork or shovel and then proceed with curing and storing.
Curing And Storing Sweet Potatoes Grown From Scraps
Leave them to dry under the sun after digging, and then cure them to toughen their skin for about 10 days at 85°F at 85% humidity.
Curing will allow them to last longer and develop a sweet, distinct flavor.
The distinct sweet flavor will develop by further curing for about one month at a temperature between 55°F and 60°F.
You can then store them in a place that does not go below 50°F.
There is a chance that many insect pests will lower the yield and quality of sweet potatoes.
Pests of sweet potatoes include rodents, moles, voles, and mice.
The most troublesome insects, known as soil insect pests, are those that directly harm the roots of plants.
Because they live below the soil’s surface, it is challenging to use insecticides to control them, even when they are present in relatively small numbers.
Foliage-feeding insects are those that harm the foliage and consequently reduce the plants’ yield.
Because they are exposed to the plant, these insects can cause economic loss, but only in large numbers, and you can relatively easy to control them with insecticides.
You can prevent rodents by growing them in large pots that they cannot access.
In both the field and the storage facility, the sweet potato weevil is a serious pest.
Sweet potatoes lose quality and marketable yield even when there are few larvae present.
Although the adult weevil feeds on every part of the plant, it can only reproduce in the stems and roots.
As soon as you cleared the storage area in the spring, sanitation within and around the area should start to eradicate weevils from planting material.
Using scraps to grow sweet potatoes is not a difficult thing to do.
The steps are straightforward, and you can easily use materials you can find around your house.
You need to first cultivate the slips or sprouts and then transfer them individually before planting them in your garden.
The next time you eat sweet potatoes and you have inedible scraps, do not hesitate to try this out!