When Was the Last Time You Grew Sweet Potato Vines from a Sweet Potato?

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet po...

Sweet Potato

I just saw a video about potatoes and the difference between those grown with pesticides and those grown organically.

This is also a story about how a little girl and her grandma conducted a science experiment to show the difference dramatically.

When you were growing up, did you ever grow potato vines by sticking toothpicks in a potato and putting one end in water?

Did you ever pick up potatoes from a dark potato bin and find that the roots had been growing because you left them too long?

Did you conduct a scientific experiment about how potato vines grow toward the sun, turning a box with a potato in it to make your own dwarf Bonsai-like potato vine?

The video shows the startling fact that sweet potatoes are now treated with a chemical that limits their sprouting in your pantry.

Click here to watch the video about the little girl who went to the grocery store with her grandma to buy potatoes, thinking she could grow vines from some of them.

Having grown up in the fall-out shelter era, my first reaction when I saw this video was “What would I eat if there were a nuclear holocaust?”

“How would I grow more sweet potatoes from my bin of sweet potatoes?”

The answer is, you wouldn’t.

The other answer is, we’re not close to a nuclear holocaust.

What Is Bud-Nip?

Bud-nip is a pesticide used largely to keep potatoes from sprouting after shipment. Its chief ingredient is Chlorpropham.

It is also used to keep an infection away from Easter Lilies, to keep Gingko trees from fruiting and to keep a kind of chickweed from growing around spinach.

But, the video is instructive.

What About Science Experiments?

The video surfaces the fact that growers are using something to stunt the growth of potato vines in our pantries.

And, it shows us the scientific method for discovering this fact.

The little girl in the video tests three variations of potatoes, those from her grocery store, those sold as organic in her grocery store, and those from an organic market.

The differences are striking, as illustrated by the growth of the vines from the potato from the organic market compared to the other two sources.

Should We Be Worried About Bud-Nip?

As you might expect, the EPA has required studies on its toxicity of this pesticide.

It found a low carcinogenic risk both from residues on stored potatoes in consumer hands and from the cattle that eat potato peelings.

Click here to read the EPA’s findings and recommendations.

Growers are advised to stop using this pesticide 30 days before spinach is picked and not to use it at all on seed potatoes.

If you are depending on using your potatoes to grow more, you probably can’t.

Click here for a related 1993 report on toxicity from a consortium of agricultural schools (Go Michigan State! #1 seed in the Western region for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament!).

What Other Science Experiments Can You Do with Potatoes?

Click here for a simple experiment to show that plants grow toward the sun, by tipping half of the plant containers on their side to see if they grow up.

Another science experiment for modern day ingredients might compare the growth of plants using energy drinks versus water.

Click here to follow a conversation about potatoes and energy drinks.

While I remember experiments to change the direction potato vines grew by changing which way the sun entered a cardboard box, I don’t remember actually constructing a maze to show this effect.

Click here to read about how to make a potato maze with a shoebox, some pieces of cardboard and other objects.

Have you ever done any science experiments with your grandchildren?

Have you made a video starring your grandchildren?

Have you and your grandchildren noticed something you would like others to know about?

To you and exploring the world with your grandchildren.

Click here to order this blog for your Kindle and get more ideas about fun things to do with your grandchildren.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Click here to order my book, affectionate, candid advice from mothers to grandmothers and grandmothers to mothers about parenting and grandparenting, “Who Gets to Name Grandma?”