I have an insatiable urge to try growing new plants all the time. When I visited a friend and saw an old (and sprouting!) sweet potato in her kitchen, I casually observed that it was sprouting. She agreed and said they were probably going to throw it away. Of course I didn’t waste any time and asked if I could have it. Knowing my penchant for growing things, she indulgently handed it over.
Prior to this, I had read on the Net about how easy it is to grow sweet potatoes, and was eager to try growing them. There are different methods to do this, and I intended to use two: firstly, to plant the sweet potato in earth and allow it to start growing, and secondly, to use the leaves it sprouted to grow more plants. We’re going to discuss the first method in this post.
Actually, we’re not going to discuss it, but I want to share the experience in pictures. I just have to apologise in advance for not taking a photo of the sweet potato before I planted it, because I was just too eager to get it into the ground and see what happened. Heh heh.
So since I have no photo, let me just describe that the sweet potato (orange variety) was around 20cm long with a diameter of 6-7cm. The sprouting was pretty advanced, with the biggest growth almost 4cm long. The stems were whitish, with the tip looking somewhat like a hand, palm up, with pink Barney-the-dinosaur-like fingers reaching upwards.
This was planted in a hole in a semi-shaded spot. I laid it horizontally because I wanted to allow the stems to keep growing in the direction they were already growing in. When I covered it with soil, it was about 10cm underground. I placed a couple of bricks around the spot, as well as a flowerpot stand over it to stop the dogs from trampling the site. If there’s ever a spot I don’t want them to run all over, you can bet they’ll step right on it! And I mean with unerring accuracy. So I took no chances.
A week later, I noticed a shiny, pink leaf that had just broken through the earth. Again, I was reminded of Barney, because that leaf looked uncannily like a pink, webbed creature’s foot to me!
The first leaf emerges
By the next day, more leaves were fighting their way out. The older leaves turned a light shade of greenish-yellow, retaining a rim of pink along the edges and on the veins.
More leaves sprout...
When the leaves unfurled completely, they were heart-shaped.
Aerial view of the leaves
Close-up of the 1-2 day old leaves. Notice how vigorously they’ve pushed their way out of the earth – the soil has simply erupted to make way for the leaves!
We want out! The leaves reaching hungrily from the ground.
Day 5, and more leaves are sprouting up from the rest of the underground tuber! The older leaves darkened to a solid green, losing the pink tinges.
Oh, they're popping up everywhere!
Growth on Day 6. I was amazed at how prolifically it’s growing. Should I be afraid?
About a foot high now.
It won’t be long before I can harvest some of those stems for propagation, and hopefully get a good sweet potato patch going. Look for that in a future post!
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