How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

To Start Sweet Potato Slips You Will Need:
1 wide mouth canning jar, or something similar
1 healthy, firm medium sized sweet potato
4 tooth picks or thin bamboo skewers
A sunny window sill

Look at your sweet potato. One end looks like it has been broken off from the plant and the other end does not. The end that looks like like it was torn from the plant, will face up, and the other end will face down. 


Poke the tooth picks into the sweet potato 1/3 of the way down from the top. The tooth pics will be used to help balance the sweet potato in the jar.


Set the sweet potato in the jar and fill with water a couple of inches from the top.

Put it in a sunny window and watch what happens!   In a couple of weeks, the sweet potato will start to sprout. Change the water occasionally to keep it fresh. When the sprouts are 5-6 ” long, carefully pick them off at the base where they are attached to the sweet potato.  Put them in a jar filled with water to root.


Once the ground is warm enough and the slips you harvested off of the sweet potato have a good set of roots it can be planted in the ground.  When it gets closer to sweet potato planting time,  in late May, we will give you planting directions!   Stay tuned!

Sustainable St. Paul Award goes to Growing West Side!

On April 20th, Growing West Side received a Sustainable Saint Paul Award

Sustainable St Paul award, Growing West Side

Rebecca Noecker, Molly Phipps, Steve Bivans, Mayor Chris Coleman

from the Mayor and the City Council, for our work on Local, Healthy Food & Community!

Along with 12 other amazing groups and individuals working on all facets of sustainability, from energy, to clean water, to beautification, to waste, to food and gardening, Growing West Side was proud to be in attendance for this exciting ceremony.

Sustainable St Paul award growing west side

Rebecca Noecker, Barb Rose, Molly Phipps, Steve Bivans

Receiving the award for GWS, were Molly Phipps and Steve Bivans. Julie Nelson arrived just in time to see them accept the award, and Barb Rose–rushing from another meeting–arrived in time for the end of the ceremony and to pose with our city council person, Rebecca Noecker.


We are proud of the recognition for the work Sustainable St. Paul award Growing West Sideof so many volunteers, and want to thank you all, including our steering committee members, Maureen Hark and Sarah Foster, who were not able to attend.

One of the highlights of the ceremony was Steve Bivans’ short acceptance speech, in which he laid down a challenge to all in the room, including the City Council and Mayor Coleman, “to make St. Paul the model for sustainability, not just in Minnesota, not just in the U.S., but for the entire PLANET!

If you’d like to see the entire ceremony, it’s below! If you just want to see the GWS part, and Steve’s short speech, skip to about the 19:30 minute mark in the video.

This is a goal that our city CAN reach, with the help of organizations like the ones in attendance at the ceremony, and with the assistance of our neighbors.

Steve would personally like to challenge the West Side neighborhood, to lead the way for the rest of the city! Let’s DO THIS!

Want to know how to help?

Volunteer with Growing West Side, today! Click HERE for more information!

Planting Snow Peas and Succession Planting

By Neith Little

What is Succession Planting?

Planting one crop after another in the same season can help you grow more food and more variety in a small space.

The trick is to pick different species that fit together within the growing season. For example, snow peas are cool-season crops: they grow well in the early spring or in the fall, but grow poorly in the heat of summer. Pole beans are a warm season crop: they need the heat of summer to grow best. So you could plant snow peas in the early spring before your beans, or in the fall beans.

You may also hear the phrase “succession planting” used when a gardener plants small amounts of the same species several times throughout the growing season. For example, if you planted a whole garden bed full of lettuce all at once, all the lettuce would mature at the same time and you might have more than you could eat before it “bolts” and starts to flower. But if you planted a small patch of lettuce every week or two, then later each patch would mature in “succession” every couple of weeks, and you would have lettuce at its tastiest available in your garden for a longer window of time.

Snow peas…..and Beans on the Boulevard

snow peas

Snow Peas

If you want to try succession planting, this year’s bean buddy is a good place to start. Snow peas are easy to grow and like cool weather. They grow well when the air temperature is between 40 and 75 degrees F. The seedlings can even survive a light frost. If you want to grow them in the spring, before a summer crop, it’s important to get them started early,  because most varieties take about 60 days to produce pods, and the plants will stop growing and producing flowers when the temperature gets into 80s in June, which is when you will want to plant your pole beans anyway.

You can also plant them in the fall, when the temperatures start to cool down and after your pole beans are past their peak production. Snow peas can be harvested at many stages. When the plants are still young, the shoots can be harvested and eaten as greens, usually stir-fried or steamed. The pods can be harvested and eaten when the peas inside are small. Or you can wait until the peas are more mature, and harvest them for shelling peas.

When harvesting at any of these stages it is important to keep what you pick cool, so that it will not wilt before you eat it. Harvesting first thing in the morning can help prevent wilting. if you harvest after the sun has hit the plants, run what you’ve harvested under cold water to cool them down before you store them in the refrigerator. For more information, see the U of M Extension website about snow peas.