rootings

How to Make Sweet Potato Slips

Summer is fast approaching (in Florida, anyway) which means it’s time to get your slips in the ground and growing.  They require a long growing season and they require warmth.  But they don’t grow from seed potatoes, rather the “slips” created from your sweet potatoes.  How does one create a sweet potato slip?

The technique is easy.  You simply cut your sweet potato in half, perch it upon the mouth of a jar or glass (suspended by toothpicks works well) submerging the bottom half in water.  Voila!

creating slips

Place in a sunny location and keep the water level high enough so that the bottom half remains wet and then watch your potato sprout.

After a while—times vary, but you can expect to wait days, even weeks in some cases—shoots (leaves) will form on the top of your potato.  You can gently remove these and place them in water, again half-submersed, and a tangle of roots will develop.   More

Successful Rosemary Rooting

Seems to be a rosemary week.  While I clipped and dried and roasted my rosemary, Mandy is having different issues.  Remember her gorgeous line of rosemary out front?  Yes, well, some of them aren’t faring so well.

I know.  It’s tragic.  But the good news?  Those that she started from rootings are doing fabulous!  Yes!  Isn’t that great?  And she’s willing to share her secret mix with us.  Hers and her local seed and feed experts, that is. 

But sometimes it takes a village, know what I mean

First she secured some pots.  Then she cut a few fine specimens from her healthy rosemary plants and shaved off their bottom leaves.  Next she dipped them in rootone and then set them in her magic mix of vermiculite, peat moss and organic soil conditioner. 

This mixture will help keep her new babies nice and moist–but not too moist!  Remember, rosemary likes it a bit drier than most.  Overwhelming them with water is never a good thing, even as young transplants.

Don’t they just look happy?  On another note, her backyard compost is doing well.  Inky black and veritably odorless.

 

Unlike this specimen.  UGH.  Yes, it smells as bad as it looks, trust me.  I mean, it’s food left to rot in a plastic bin–how could it not be gross?  But it will work wonders in her soil!

Once it’s been decomposed by a host of unmentionables, anyway.  Think:  icky crawling wonderful “eaters of rotten food.”  But this is nature we’re dealing with and we must maintain the proper attitude about these sorts of things.  And just think of the vegetables she’ll be able to produce with this mess!  Makes you wanna say yum.

Time to make your sweet potato slips!

 

Summer is fast approaching (in Florida, anyway) which means it’s time to get your slips in the ground and growing.  They require a long growing season and they require warmth.  But they don’t grow from seed potatoes, rather the “slips” created from your sweet potatoes.  How does one create a sweet potato slip? 

The technique is easy.  You simply cut your sweet potato in half, perch it upon the mouth of a jar or glass (suspended by toothpicks works well) submerging the bottom half in water.  Voila!  

Place in a sunny location and keep the water level  high enough so the bottom half remains wet and watch your potato sprout. 

After a while — times vary, but you can expect to wait days, even weeks in some cases — shoots will form on the top of your potato.  You can gently remove these and place them in water, again half-submersed, and roots will develop. 

When they reach a couple of inches, you simply transplant them to your garden and water them in. 

Sweet potatoes like loose sandy soil and don’t need a lot of fertilizer or water, which makes them especially kind to the novice Florida gardener, such as myself.  You can amend the soil with some compost to add nutrients, but don’t worry if you can’t.  These girls are pretty hardy.

Depending on the variety, potatoes can be harvested from 100 – 140 days.   I planted my first crop last June and began harvesting in October but continued through December.  They don’t like the cold, so we cleared the remainder out and collected them for storage before the temps dipped too low. 

Good thing we did.  Florida was quite nippy this last season!

As with any tender transplant, take care with your new rootings and they will grow fast and furious.   Wonderful news,  because sweet potatoes are not only easy to grow, but they’re as healthy as it gets.  Roasted, mashed, baked or broiled, these babies will keep you healthy and happy and hoppin’ ready for a new crop come fall!

Save the Poinsettias!

This time of year poinsettias take center stage, boasting big, beautiful red blooms (leaves, really, known as bracts), with petite yellow flowers nestled amidst the magnificent color.  While also available in pink and white, for me, red remains the heart and soul of the Christmas season.

Last year I decided to save my poinsettia plants, and actually put them in the ground.  What better way to decorate the house for the season than an abundance of beautiful poinsettias, right? 

Okay, so it’s easier.  They grow by themselves all year long then, poof!  Gorgeous red blooms for Christmas.  Does it get any better?  To tell the truth, I first came up the idea while driving through the neighborhood.  On the corner of my usual route, there’s a cute cottage home with a HUGE poinsettia plant.  (More tree than plant, the way this thing has grown wild.)  Wild and beautiful.  

The first time I saw the red blooms take over the scraggly branches – and realized it was a poinsettia – I was in awe.  Complete awe.  I had no idea poinsettias grew this way!  And if looks were any indication, it appeared as though it was growing naturally, without the assistance of pruning or fertilization.  Perfect, I mused.  A seasonal plant that survives on its own, yet heralds in this glorious time of year… 

Why, it’s doubly perfect!  Chocked full of inspiration, away I went, determined to have one for my own yard.  If they could do it, I could do it

Immediately upon my return home, I thumbed through my home and garden magazines, and noticed a plethora of articles on this very subject.  Wonderful.  It meant I didn’t have to start this project from scratch. 

As directed, I placed my plant in the ground, selecting a nice spot where it would receive plenty of indirect sunlight, and made sure it was well protected from cool drafts.  As a native of Mexico, this plant doesn’t like the cold, so whenever the temperature dips below 50-55 degrees, you must be vigilant and cover it else it shrivel up and die.

Note:  For you Arctic Amigos living north of the Florida border, don’t try this at home.  Save your plants, but keep them as indoor “pets” only.  Do remember to water them, a common problem with any indoor plant I adopt.  (The whole watering schedule thing puts a crimp in my carefree and spontaneous style – that, and children tend to be quite demanding, though getting pretty good at accomplishing their own chore list.  Note to self: houseplant watering is now a kid’s job.) 

But as I was saying, outdoors I have an irrigation system.  It works on a timer and is quite reliable.  Following my gardening guidelines, I decided on the northern side of my house (summers can be brutal in Central Florida), dug the hole, loosened the roots, fertilized with an all purpose fertilizer and let it grow!  

Fanning my feathers like a grand peacock, I’m proud to say:  it’s alive and doing well.  Then — another brainstorm hit.  How about reproducing these spectacular results?  If one can survive, so can two, or three, or as many cuttings as I can root from this existing plant of mine! 

Excited by the prospect, though uncertain which method was best, I decided to experiment.  Have I mentioned I have mad scientist tendencies?  I prefer to refer to it as creative, but either way, some cuttings went into dirt and one went into water.  Shoot, if my mother can do it, I can do it!  (Whoa back, cowgirl — she is the “rooting” queen.) 

That's my little gal, down toward the left

But so full of gusto, I decided to continue full steam ahead.  Just to be sure, I gave myself a boost with rooting “tonic.”  You know, that little powder you dip the stems into before you plant them?  For this particular experiment, I used Rootone, though I imagine there are others on the market that will produce results equally as well. 

The stuff works wonders.  As you can see, my little babies are faring quite nicely.  (Big smiles here.)  Small, but I only rooted this past September.  With relative ease, I might add – unlike my human darlings.  Those children take work and lots of it.  Albeit, a labor of love, I add with another smile, but if you want to give the gift that keeps on giving, my advice: Save the poinsettias!  Next year, when you come home to a yard full of spectacular seasonal color, you’ll be glad you did. 

One caveat:  General consensus suggests you may need to “trick” your poinsettias into blooming if you have less than 14 hours of nightfall per day.  Mine achieved the red without any effort on my part, though I wonder if there wouldn’t be quite a bit more if I had covered the plant for a few extra hours each day, a month or so before Christmas.  

This one was fully "rooted" in water only

It’s something to consider, though you can be sure my neighbor doesn’t do this for their wild beauty!  Either way, have fun and enjoy the process.    When all else fails, that’s what’s it’s really about. 
Share the joy!