Apartment Gardening

Have you ever bought a sweet potato and then forgot about it? If so, you probably noticed sprouts protruding from said vegetable. Well, that’s because sweet potatoes, unlike other plants, do not originate from seeds, but from slips (leafy stems that grow roots).

The interesting thing about this vegetable is that you do not have to be a master gardener in order to grow it. In fact, you can actually grow sweet potatoes in your home. All you need is a jar, a warm place and a sweet potato. Once you have your own sweet potato plant, you have two options: you can remove the slips and plant them to grow other sweet potatoes or just keep it as a regular houseplant. Since I live in an apartment, I opted for keeping it as a houseplant because it adds color and gives off a fresh, earthy smell. Just remember that sweet potatoes thrive during warm seasons, so if you are planning to do this process in February or March, make sure you keep it in a warm environment.

SproutsHere are the steps I followed:

Step One: Purchase an organic sweet potato because other versions may be treated with sproutsuppressing chemicals. Carefully wash the sweet potato, and then cut it in half.

Step Two: Place the sweet potato halves in a glass or wide-mouth plastic container filled with enough water so that half of the potato is submerged in water. You may use toothpicks to hold the potato in place. After a week or two of maintaining the water level, you should see sprouts and then stems with leaves forming. Voilà! You have a sweet potato plant covered in slips that you can use to plant other little sweet potatoes. It is said that one sweet potato can yield about 12 plants. Remember, this plant will only thrive in warm environments, so it is important to keep it in a warm, dry place.

Step Three: At this point you can either transfer it into a plant pot where it may grow in soil, or you can remove the plantable slips to grow multiple sweet potatoes. If choose to keep it as a plant, merely purchase some fertile soil and a rather roomy pot, and then place your potato plant in it. Or you can carefully twist off the slips (the sprouts that are attached to the leafy stems). You can then plant these slips in individual pottery beds. If the roots have not fully formed on the sprouts, you can just place the stem in water until roots appear (this should only take a few days.) You can then make your own mini-garden at home by taking a big Styrofoam box and placing soil inside of it. You may place it by a window to get some sunlight before moving it to a warm area in the evening. After three months, you should have grown healthy, sweet potatoes (since it thrives in warm weather its best to start in late May or early June).

This process is fun to do with children and it’s an excellent way to grow your own fresh vegetables at home. Or you can easily just use the beautiful green, vine plants as a decoration in your apartment.