On Wednesday of last week, we had the pleasure of having one of our long term gardeners, General Peyton, (General is really his first name–not his rank) come to the Big Ugly Community Center to show us how to grow sweet potato slips for planting in our gardens.  General said that he had been gardening for most of the last 72 years and had learned a few things from experience.  He also told us that his best teacher was his mother who gardened all her life.  For his mom and for General, a good garden was a must as it provided food for the family for the whole year.  Without it, he said they would have gone hungry.
General talked to us about the basics of growing sweet potatoes.  You don’t get a sweet potato seed to put in the ground.  Rather you put sweet potato slips in your garden.  The slips are shoots that are grown from a good firm sweet potato from last year’s harvest.
General arrived with a large coffee can filled with a heavy substance.  He told us it was the last addition to the sweet potato tub and we would find out soon enough what it was.  He outlined the simple steps to growing our “slips”
1.  Get some firm tubers from last year’s harvest
2.  Set them in a container with holes in the bottom and pack it with good soil.  (We used organic compost from 7 Springs Farm.)
3.  Then General poured the contents of the mysterious container on the top of the soil.  It was sand!
4.  Last step was to water the soil and the sand until water dripped from the bottom of the tub.
General instructed us to keep the tub of soil and sand moist and place it in the greenhouse as the sweet potatoes love those warm temperatures.   We are to look for the slips to start popping out of the soil in about 2-3 weeks.  General advised us that the more slips we pull from the soil, the more will grow.   The slips should be planted relatively soon after being pulled but you can wait a few days and just place the slips in water.
So we are looking forward to having slips emerge around the 8th of May.  Planting sweet potatoes in our area around the last half of May is well advised as they are a warm weather crop.
Click photo below to view video of the General.
The General Grows Sweets