Initiate the process of cultivating sweet potatoes by obtaining cuttings:
Unlike most other vegetables, sweet potatoes do not grow from seeds; instead, they sprout from cuttings. Cuttings, in this context, are shoots derived from a mature sweet potato. While you can purchase plants online or, rarely, from a local nursery, the optimal approach is to commence the growth from cuttings sourced from a sweet potato, preferably organic, either purchased or from your existing garden if you’ve previously cultivated sweet potatoes. If acquiring from a grocery store, ascertain whether the sweet potato is of a trailing or climbing variety.
To kickstart the creation of your cuttings, you’ll need several healthy, clean sweet potatoes. Each sweet potato can yield up to 50 leafy cuttings. After thoroughly washing the sweet potatoes, cut them into halves or large sections. Submerge half of each section in a pot or glass of water, securing it in place with toothpicks.
Given that cuttings thrive in warmth, place them on a windowsill or near a radiator. Within a few weeks, your sweet potatoes will sprout leafy shoots on top and roots at the base.
Facilitate the proper rooting of your sweet potato cuttings:
Once your sweet potatoes have developed leaves and small roots, it’s time to separate them into individual plants. Gently remove each cutting from the sweet potato, placing it in a shallow bowl with the bottom half of the stem submerged in water and the leaves extending above the bowl. Within days, multiple roots will emerge from the base of each new plant. When the roots reach approximately 3cm in length, the new plants are ready for planting. Maintain their health by regularly refreshing the water and discarding any cuttings showing no signs of root development or exhibiting signs of decay or mold.
Proceed with planting your cuttings:
Using a small hand trowel, dig holes about 10cm deep and 7cm wide. Position a sweet potato plant in each hole with the roots facing downward. Ensure that the bottom half is covered with soil while the top half, adorned with fresh leaves, remains above the ground.
Carefully fill the hole with soil, taking care not to disturb the delicate new plant. Gently press down on the plant and surrounding soil to settle it in place and eliminate air pockets. Repeat this process until all your sweet potato plants are securely planted.
Maintain regular and thorough watering:
Once all the sweet potato cuttings are in the ground, water them generously. Provide ample watering until the surrounding soil is thoroughly moist, avoiding erosion of the mound. During the first week, water the new plants daily, transitioning to every other day in the second week. Gradually increase the interval between waterings each week until you reach a minimum of once a week. Adjust this schedule based on local conditions, such as dry spells or excessive rainfall, ensuring your sweet potatoes receive sufficient moisture, especially during the hottest parts of summer. Sweet potatoes can endure drought, but consistent watering promotes optimal production.