Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Favorite or New Plant
Sweet potato sets can be started indoors now for planting outside in May. Place small-to-medium sized tubers in a container that drains well, and cover them with light, sandy soil or planter mix. Maintain a damp but not soggy moisture and a 70 to 75 degree tem%pera%ture in bright light. Sprouts will be ready for trans%plant%ing in four to six weeks.
An easy way to start sweet potato sprouts--and give yourself an ornamental plant at the same time--is to sprout a tuber in a glass or jar filled half-way with water. Shoots will sprout from the top half, and root from the bottom half. You may even decide you like the foliage so much, you'll keep it growing as a houseplant, perhaps stringing the vines around a window.
To plant the sweet potato shoots into the garden, care%fully pull or cut the nine-to-12-inch shoots from the starter root, retaining attached roots. Plant these 12 inches apart in sandy, well-drained soil. Water them in well with a half-strength solution of a balanced fertilizer, and shade them from the hot mid-day sun for a week.
Clever Gardening Technique
Use a shallow, compartmented plastic basket with a handle as a garden carryall for seed packets, pruners, trowel, fork, and other small items. Before each day's initial trip into the garden, replenish the basket with packets of seed appropriate for planting at that time. As an empty spot develops in the garden, plant a few seeds.