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Sweet Potato Questions

 
steward & bricolagier
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Location: SW Missouri
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Weird question about sweet potatoes. I have grown them for years in NM, moved to MO, lost a crop to the deer and rabbits, and am trying a few again this year. Someone said something that made me look up stuff, and now I have a weird concept I'd LOVE to know if it's accurate. She said they root where the vines hit and put out more potatoes there. Interesting, in NM my vines sprawled onto mulched areas, to conserve water, they didn't try to root anyplace. What I found was that yes, they do grow potatoes where they root, IF the rooted area is cut off from the main stem, by humans or nibblers. Is this true? Does anyone cut theirs off? Or do you not need to?

There's a growing technique for strawberries called a walking bed, where you brush the runners in one direction, then cut them off, and they are the next year's plants, the parent plants get mulched. The next year you brush the runners again, and cut off the parent again, and the line of plants walks up and down the bed over the years, so you always get a good crop, and the soil is always fertile where they grow, as you have been able to work it. I wonder if you can walk sweet potatoes sort of like that, plant at one end, brush the vines down the bed, let them root, cut them loose, brush their vines, and at the end of the season end up with a bed full of potatoes from fewer starts. Anyone ever done this? It's either a really cool idea, or utterly wrong, love to know which!! :)

Random: the reason I got into growing sweet potatoes was I went to Biosphere2 in Tuscon, they had a bad time, almost starved to death, had to end the experiment early. The ONLY crop they had thrive was sweet potatoes. When the experiment was ended, the people had orange skin due to eating nothing but sweet potatoes. Any crop that is THAT easy to grow, I'm in!! :D  
 
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I've had them make roots at the nodes in a particularly wet summer.  I don't cut them off though, they just make a few small potatoes where they've developed roots down into the mulch.
Usually I try to mulch them well enough that they don't do this as I thought it took away from the main roots...not sure that's really so.  
It might depend on the variety?  I grow a cut leaf one that was passed on to us more than ten years ago...a lot of the potatoes are almost round and sometimes the size cantaloupe or larger.  

I'll have to try that method of dealing with strawberry plants...I often loose track of who's the mama plant out there.
 
pollinator
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I am starting some slips, soonest. I really want to grow some outside. They are my Flemish Giant's favourite veggie, that I know of, anyways. She just goes nuts for them.

For our part, we eat lots of sweet potatoes and butternut squash, and they are each about equally versatile.

-CK
 
pollinator
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My nephew in-law is the sweet potato grower and said his experience is that it depends on variety and whether you plant them or let them root. If I understood him correctly, you basically turn a section back into a still attached slip by trimming the leaves off for a foot or so, then covering it with soil.

I may need to try this to find out. Results will be several months out...
 
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We just place some soil on top of the vine at the leaf nodes we want to grow some more sweets from. Once we get about three or four nodes growing their own vines, we snip off the growing tip so the new "plants" will really grow good sweets like their parent.
It is possible to grow every other leaf node but I usually leave about 4 in between node coverings.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Caleb Mayfield and Bryant Redhawk: So you are both seeing the same thing I am saying? That if it's cut off after rooting, it will produce just like it was a new plant?
If so, that's neat, I only have a few plants, and I don't have dirt ready right now for more. I'll put the plants into the currently ready area, and that gives me time to make more areas, and brush the vines in there to root.  COOL!!
Thank you!! :D
 
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