Gardening Experiment Number 1,234,567

Ok, so that’s really not the experiment number, but I have done many experiments. One of my current ones is trying to determine if I can successfully grow sweet potatoes in my house. This all began last fall when I attempted to harvest sweet potatoes from some plants in my garden. Some of these plants had come from tubers that had sprouted in my pantry. The others were from plants that I had ordered online from rareseeds.com. Unfortunately, the harvest was pitiful. I had only a few small tubers. I can’t say exactly what the issue was, but I did experience a poor harvest last year from all of my root crops.

Anyway, looking at my little tubers I wondered if it was possible to save them to plant next year. Then, I wondered if I could just continue to grow the sweet potatoes inside. Some of the plant material, leaves and stem, were still attached and somewhat healthy looking. Leaving them outside was not option because of frost. Perhaps, I could continue to grow them inside and harvest larger tubers or just keep the plants alive to create new plants to grow next year’s crop. So, this is what I did.

I planted the tubers and what plant material was still attached in a large pot and put it under a small grow light. I watered it well and left it alone. After a few days, some of the plant material died, but not all of it. Eventually, new growth appeared and before long the pot was full of leaves. It was at this point that I realized I had not provided a large enough pot for the amount of tubers I had planted. I was hesitant to re-pot the plants, but I did it anyway. I replanted them in the largest pot that I had and moved it to the floor under a larger light. After this, the plants sulked for many days and several leaves died off. They did not like being moved. However, eventually this stopped and new growth formed again.

After the transplant
After the transplant

Currently, the plants are growing well under lights in my cold kitchen. So far, so good. I will post an update after I take cuttings in an attempt to make new plants for the next growing season.

Growing well
Growing well

Update: I took several cuttings and placed them in jars of water. It didn’t take long for roots to form. When the weather warmed, I transplanted the new plants to fabric bags that I made for the garden. The “mother plant” spent the summer on my porch. Most of the new plants flourished.

 

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One of the cuttings – Roots have formed
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The “mother plant” spends the summer on my porch.:
Sweet potato plant before harvest
Sweet potato harvest, Molokai Purple

When the weather turned cool in the fall, I harvested my plants. It was not a huge harvest, but I suspect that the bags may have been too small for their liking. Also, they were somewhat shaded by some nearby plants. Overall, I consider this experiment a success. I still have the “mother plant” which I suspect has sweet potatoes of her own ready for harvest, and I took cuttings from the “daughter plants.” I will try to grow the daughter plants inside this winter for next year’s garden. I can’t wait to eat my purple sweet potatoes!

 

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