Growing Sweet Potato Plants
How shall I make a hot-bed to raise sweet potato plants? I don't mean to
put glass over bed, but want full description of an up-to-date outfit
for raising them.
Manure hot-beds have been largely abandoned for growing sweet potato
slips, though, of course, you can grow them that way on a small scale or
for experiment. In the large sweet potato districts, elaborate
arrangements for bottom heat by circulation of hot water or steam are in
use. In a smaller way hot air works well. The Arizona Experiment Station
tells how a very good sweet potato hot-bed at little cost is constructed
as follows: A frame of rough boards seven feet wide, twenty feet long
and fourteen inches deep is laid down over two flues made by digging two
trenches one foot deep and about two feet wide, lengthwise of the bed.
These trenches are covered with plank or iron roofing, and are equipped
with a fire pit at one end and short smokestack at the other.
Four inches of soil is filled into this bed and sweet potatoes placed
upon it in a layer which is then covered with two or three inches more
of soil. Large potatoes may be split and laid flat side down. The whole
bed is then covered with muslin, operating on a roller by which to cover
and uncover the bed. Thus prepared, the bed may easily be kept at a
temperature of 60 to 70 degrees F. by smouldering wood fires in the fire
boxes. The potatoes, kept moist at this temperature, sprout promptly and
will be ready to transplant in about six weeks. A bed of the size
mentioned will receive five to seven bushels of seed roots, which will
make slips enough to plant an acre or more of potatoes.
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