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Grow Your Own Food: Sweet Potatoes

Ron Finley

Lesson time 11:58 min

Ron demonstrates how to plant sweet potatoes, discusses their resilience, and explains how to tell if they’re ready to harvest.

Ron Finley
Teaches Gardening
Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - So now, we're going to talk about sweet potatoes and why you should be growing them. One of the reasons is because this tuber is one of the healthiest tubers. And the second reason, the greens from the sweet potato, they're like the top of the food chain when it comes to leafy greens. They have more antioxidants. They have more vitamins, folic acid. And in our culture, we don't eat them. We throw them away. But all of these are edible, and it could be one of the most healthiest thing in your garden. That's why you should be growing it. [MUSIC PLAYING] I'm going to show you how to plant these are a bunch of different ways because you can. You can plant them from the spuds that are growing on them, you can plant them from the vines that are growing, and you can cut the potato up and start from there. I'm sure in school, you guys probably did this experiment where you put toothpicks in the sweet potato, and then you put it in the jar and watched it grow like this. But what they never told us was to put this in the ground. You can see, a day or so ago, we put this in some water, and it had no green on it. Now, if you look closely, you can see that there has been green leaves that are coming up just from a day in the water. So what will happen to this potato with all of these spuds growing on it? If you put this in the ground just like it is, it will grow, and what will happen is this will decompose in the ground. But all of this will give you new growth. Also, another way you can do it, You can see the green here. You can plant these. So that you can put these straight in the soil. Same thing, you can-- if you want, you can put this whole thing in the ground, and it might even get more spuds on it. But also, the vines, if you see these nodes, these get roots. So literally, I can cut this. And you can put these in water, and they'll start rooting. You can even put them in soil, and they will start rooting. And you can plant these in the ground. And also you can-- when you do get some potatoes that are ready to harvest, you can leave a couple in the ground. But even if I take this off, this will grow, and you will have a ton of sweet potatoes from this. You see it has-- it's rooted-- it has roots on it. This was the base that it came off, so there were other sweet potatoes attached to this sweet potato. And it's ready to go already. It's there. The thing I love about this is since it's a tuber, it's growing underground, so you literally can plant on top of this. What I do, I plant sunflowers, I plant corn, and different green vegetables on top of these since they're in the ground. And a lot of times, those other things that you're planting on top, the roots, they don't go down that far to disrupt the growth of the sweet potato. And then what you also get is the leafy greens. It becomes a cover crop for the soil, which that protects the soil. So that's another reason that you should plant these. And ...

Plant a revolution

When Ron Finley first grew a garden on a curbside dirt strip, he got cited—and then a warrant was issued for his arrest. He fought back, got the laws changed, and started a movement. Now the community activist and self-proclaimed “Gangster Gardener” is teaching you how to grow your own food, keep your plants alive, and find beauty and freedom in gardening no matter the size of your space. Start planting a revolution.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Loved the story line, real character, charismatic - liked the basic message of demystifying gardening. If an improvement area, as an apartment dweller, I'd benefit a lot from a more targeted masterclass that recognises the limitations/challenges, focusses on potted solutions and how to maintain long term - the herb section was a bit brief

First of all i want to say that I truly enjoyed Ron"s class. He was so real and inspiring. I've tried some new plantings and can't wait to see the result.

Instructor is full of personality and inspires confidence in gardening. It was useful to learn about dividing and pruning and propagating.

I was totally inspired and decided to start my own planting journey as I watched the videos all within a day


Jayne E.

Great class, didn't know about sweet potato greens. Been digging on kale for my smoothies so I'll give it a try. Check out these lovely yellow wax. With thyme, shallots olive oil and finish with a handful of arugula,...yummy, been eating it all summer...See you in the garden!

A fellow student

Right now, climate change can ravage my garden. Somehow we are now Zone 6. We were almost a Zone 4 when I was growing up. We get some crazy hot days in August, but that doesn't make us a Zone 6. When I put Zone 6 plants in, they die overwinter. Simply plants like lavender, croak.


I've had my sweet potato sitting in water for over a week and nothing, I have no idea what I'm doing wrong. Any suggestions?

Felipe S.

Question. If planting on a pot, which is the minimum or the ideal size of the pot?

A fellow student

This was fantastic! Question: When doing the bag method, do you open the bag to water the soil or just wet the bag? How often?

A fellow student

How do you cut the big potato without disturbing the young little ones that need more time to grow?

Hunter P.

I don't seem to be having much luck starting it in water?? And how hardy is this plant- I live in the desert and it is late in our planting season...

Ashley H.

No one should ever go hungry. This planet was made perfectly and after watching this series. I'm realizing that even more. So thankful for this. Please have more classes that are about health and saving the environment. Great job!

Nicolas K.

Thank you for all these useful tips !! My father have green houses, I can't wait for investing in new vegetables.


does the container need holes at the bottom as well like the wooden box mentioned earlier?