In January I was reading through a book where I read that it is possible to grow sweet potato plants in Canada. I love sweet potato so this made me quite excited. I was under the impression that it was something that just doesn’t grow here (in Alberta) considering the short growing season and cooler temperatures. But after reading this, I quickly got on the internet and googled growing sweet potatoes here in Canada to see what would come up. The plants can grow here but it requires a bit of extra work to ensure they make it. By extra work I mean that the plants will die if exposed to temperatures below +10 and they need at least 100 days above +10. I laughed because I thought this is going to be challenging given that Alberta normally gets nights over the summer below +10 and you can only really safely expect a couple of months of great growing weather. the rest of it is iffy. So am I crazy to try this? oh most likely. could it be fun? I am almost positive it will be no matter what the end result is. 🙂 I love taking on a good challenge and experimenting with plants. I also have a few ideas to make it more possible. 🙂
First off, we have a greenhouse that already gets to about +15 (in March!) during the day but cools off to just a few degrees above what it is outside (which is below freezing). By the end of May though, it is usually easily +30 during the day and about +10-15 at night if I don’t open any windows and we don’t have any cold spells that can sometimes happen in May. then by July it is stifling hot and would likely get about +50 C if I didn’t open the windows and doors for ventilation. usually I open it up to keep it around +30 which is the best I can do. plants don’t do well in there over the summer because of the heat but I have read that sweet potatoes love heat which would be perfect use of the greenhouse. Hopefully I don’t cook them in there though. So the greenhouse effectively takes care of the heat issue and extending the growing season which I hope will be enough. If I am successful it is such a wonderful feeling. 🙂 If not, I have lots of fun trying and you never know what you can do if you assume you can’t and don’t try right?
Second, where to find sweet potatoes to grow is the next issue to think about. I checked different places online to see if I can buy the slips and Vesseys does sell them but doesn’t ship till June due to the chance they might get cold. That is a bit late for me. So I decided to grow them myself. I read through many articles and watched many youtube videos on how to start your own sweet potato slips. Sweet potato plants come from slips which grow from the potato. They grow by placing the potato in water which I will show in photos below. You are apparently supposed to start this process in April but being an impatient person, I started them the end of January. lol This is probably actually going to turn out ok for me because it will probably give them a bit extra head start in our sun room. Now I would like to share the photos of my experiment so far. 🙂
First off, I needed to find organic sweet potatoes that haven’t been treated with anything that inhibits growth on the potato. I found this bag of potatoes at Save On Foods and on sale to boot! The bag says yams in big letters but in smaller letters on the side it says they are sweet potatoes. They are called both yam and sweet potato which makes little sense to me but you can tell a real yam from a sweet potato quite easily.
Next I had to grow sweet potato slips to plant. You do this by taking a chunk of sweet potato and placing it suspended in a jar of water. I used tooth picks to hold it up as I saw done in a youtube video.
Next I had to wait for something to start growing. It started happening pretty quickly but it was roots first coming out of the bottom. Then the shoots started growing all over the sweet potato! This was quite exciting! The next picture was taken on March 4 just before I started pulling off some of the slips. You are supposed to wait till the slips are a few inches long before pulling them off.
After pulling off the slips, it is time to put them in water to get them to grow roots. this happens quite quickly and they root exceptionally well as you will see in the photo below.
So far so good. 🙂 I will try to keep people updated as I go along and hopefully in the end I will have something to show for it. 🙂 If not, it was at least worth a try. 🙂 I realize people may think I am crazy but I don’t mind. I am having fun which is what matters to me. 🙂 thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it. 🙂