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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get Your Seed Potatoes Now

 (To read a compilation of all our potato blogs, go to:
Can I plant potatoes from the grocery store? and

Potatoes are easy to grow and an efficient use of garden space. One seed potato can yield as much as five pounds of potatoes. Seed-supply companies would love for you to buy from them but you can save money by buying your potatoes from the produce section of your grocery store. The term "seed-potato" can be misleading. Potatoes do, on occasion produce seeds, but growers do not grow their crops from them. Instead, they grow them from small sprouting potatoes. (See our other articles about "chitting"--greening, and planting potatoes).

These green spheres in Chris' hand contain actual potato seeds but rarely do people grow potatoes from seeds.
It is important that you buy organic potatoes because many of the commercially grown ones are sprayed with a "sprout-retardant" which gives them a longer shelf-life. It is important to buy them within the next month as, the longer you wait, the higher the prices will go.

How many to get? Each plant will take up about 12 - 16 inches of row space. If stored well, they will last for up to six months before starting to sprout again. Figure on 3-5 pounds of yield per potato you plant.

What size should you get? Ideally you will find them that are about the size of a chicken's egg. Larger potatoes can be cut and allowed to skin over so they won't rot when you plant them. If you can find potatoes that already have "eyes" that are budding, so much the better.

These are all a good size for "seed potatoes"
What varieties are best? Some of this will be determined by your own personal tastes. In terms of storage, Chris says he has always had the best luck with Yukon Golds. They have a smooth, creamy taste and can be baked, steamed or fried.

Keep your seed-potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place until a few weeks before you wish to plant them. They will store better in a paper sack than in plastic. Layering them in a tub with leaves or straw, or sawdust works too. Just be sure to keep them from freezing.

Potatoes stored in layers of leaves.

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