Sweet potato is an important crop that has been the base of food security for many communities across the globe, from Central America, where it originates, to parts of Asia, the Pacific Islands and, New Zealand, where the Maori highly regards kumara. For both, its portability and long storage qualities, this crop enabled people to travel long distances before settling in faraway lands.
It is a versatile vegetable, both the tubers and leaves are edible, and they’re highly nutritious. Eating differently coloured sweet potatoes expands the range of available nutrients.
Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots with eyes at the tops of the roots. Those eyes aren’t always apparent, but they are there. You can regrow sweet potatoes and produce an entire harvest to eat throughout the following winter.
Steps to regrow sweet potatoes
Find a good spot to regrow your sweet potato
This plant grows well in warm conditions and cope with high temperatures. Choose a warm, open, sunny spot for planting.
Be aware that some sweet potatoes will have been treated so that they won’t sprout. If you are able to, buy organic or from the farmers’ markets when you have the chance.
Prepare your sweet potato plant
Ideally, you should start regrowing sweet potatoes during the summer months, to allow strong roots to form by autumn.
It is best if you can find a sweet potato that is a bit older and has already begun to form some of the so-called eyes. The eyes are the spots where the sweet potato forms its sprouts. This increases the chances of a successful regrow.
Place the sweet potato in a jar or cup filled with water, leaving at least 5-7 cm of potato above the water level. You need to place the root end down and the shoot (stem) end up. Usually, the root end is pointier than the shoot end. Sometimes you can see some little buds sprouting at the top end, which will help you determine that it is the top.
Allow it to grow roots and sprout little shoots (slips). Change the water once per week, do not let the roots dry out.
Plant the sweet potato
After 4 to 6 weeks, you should be able to snip the slips off the sweet potato. Each sweet potato will produce between five to fifteen slips. You can allow the slips to form roots by placing them in water.
When the roots are at least 2-3 cm long, plant them in the soil. This crop grows well in sandy and loamy soils, dig through some compost before planting.
Harvesting and use
You will know that the sweet potato is ready to be harvested when its leaves begin to die. Carefully lift the plant, harvest the potato, and comb through the soil for smaller ones.
Growing sweet potatoes requires patience, it takes an entire season before you can harvest your self grow sweet potatoes.
With your regrown sweet potatoes, you can now prepare lots of different dishes to enjoy with your loved ones. Nothing beats the flavour of home-grown food.
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