By Vanessa Richins
Many vegetables are suitable for planting in a container, and sweet potatoes are no exception!
These relatives of the Morning Glory plant are very easy to grow this way.
First, you should get your sweet potato sprouting. If you can, try to find locally or organic grown sweet potatoes, as the ones you find in regular grocery stores are often chemically treated to keep them from sprouting. All you need to do is place the root end (the smaller one) in a jar of water and wait.
They like it hot, so keep it somewhere that is warm in the house. Just a caution – these do not have ‘eyes’ like potatoes, so don’t cut them up. You should get several sprouts (called slips) growing soon after. Once they are about 6″ long, they are ready to be planted.
Second, you need a suitable container. I would suggest using at least a 2 gallon size. You can even use a hanging basket if you like, since sweet potato vines are long and trailing and would look lovely planted this way.However, if you’re like me, and you want to grow many sweet potatoes, buy one of the larger tote bins.
Next, you’ll need to prepare the container properly. If it doesn’t already have drainage holes, be sure to drill several as sweet potatoes need to be well drained. Add in compost and soil, and you are ready to plant.
Carefully break a slip off of your sweet potato and bury it in the soil, leaving about 1/3 of the plant above ground. As the vines grow, you can bury them beneath the soil. The vines root very easily…and the more roots you have growing, the bigger the possible harvest becomes. Plants should be spaced at least 1.5′ apart.
Congratulations! In about 3.5-4 months, you should be able to dig out your very own batch of sweet potatoes. Don’t eat them right away though – set them in a warm, shady spot for a few days to dry out. Enjoy!
Incidentally, here’s one of my favorite random bits of horticulture trivia that I love to go around telling people (what can I say? I’m a garden geek.) : There are no such things as yams in America. Those yams you buy in the store are merely another kind of sweet potato. True yams are gigantic and grow in Asia and Africa.