Less Noise, More Green: Frugal and Sustainable Gardening: growing sweet potato slips

Monday, May 25, 2015

Frugal and Sustainable Gardening: growing sweet potato slips

Growing sweet potato slips

I'm trying to keep my gardening expenses under control this year and one of my goals in this area is saving seeds and propagating new plants from old plants.  Seeds and plants can be a major line item in a gardening budget, but with a little knowledge you can coax a garden into being quite self-sufficient! Sweet potato slips are one example of how I intend to save some cash.

Growing sweet potato slips
When the slips arrive in the mail they are a bit worse for wear and need to be wrapped in a damp paper towel if they cannot be planted out right away.

Last year was the first year I grew sweet potatoes and I was shocked at how expensive the slips were. I also had to buy a lot more slips than I could fit into the bed. This year, I split my order with my friend Roda which was great for both of us, but the slips from an online regional seed company still came out to about $1 a slip plus shipping. Ouch!

This spring, while eating the last of the Beauregard sweet potato harvest, which was a big success, I remembered the science experiments we did in school where we grew potato plants from a potato partly emerged in water. After a little research, I realized the little runt sweet potato left at the bottom of the box could be a gold mine!

I set up the experiment by inserting tooth picks into the sweet potato. This kept it balanced as it's end stayed below the water line in the glass. Then I walked away! A few weeks later the potato had grown roots and then stems. I moved it under my grow lights where it has been happily growing.

Growing sweet potato slips

Right now, the sweet potato has sprouted about seven healthy looking slips with the promise of more to come. Not only are these slips free, but they will be planted straight from my plant nursery into the garden bed saving the slips a lot of stress. Once the slips are big enough, I 'll remove them from the mother plant and put them in water so they can establish their own root system.

Needless to say, if I have a good harvest again this year, a couple of the potatoes are destined for parenthood! I love it when I can find a frugal and sustainable gardening solution.

See you in the garden,


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  1. Sue, I bought my slips from Tatorman.com. 12slips for $16 including shipping. They sent me 15. I could never get slips to grow from store bought potatoes, I think that they spray them with something to keep them from sprouting.

    1. Hi Mike, you are probably right about the store bought sweet potatoes. The slips growing in the photo are on a potato I grew from a purchased slip last year. Good luck with your crop this season!

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