Wednesday, March 30, 2016

How to Grow Seed Potatoes

Ever feel like the potatoes in stock at the grocery store just don’t cut it? Then perhaps it’s time to try your hand at planting your own! If you live in a northern climate, you can start getting ready for your crop now – and we offer a guide right here on how to go about it.


Let’s quickly review some of the basics, then we’ll go through the process itself. A seed potato is either a whole potato or a piece of a potato that is planted in the ground to grow a potato plant. There are various opinions on whether it’s best to plant whole potatoes (which decreases the chances of disease and rot) or pieces of potatoes (which will allow you to grow more potato plants). The choice is yours. However, you may want to do some research on the growing conditions in your area so you know whether potatoes there are prone to rotting, which is more likely if the soil is soggy. 

And now for the process itself! First off, you want to decide what kind of potatoes you’d like to grow. Grocery stores only offer a handful of options – and you wouldn’t want to use those anyway, as they’re treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting and usually aren’t tested for seed potato diseases. Here at Paris Farmers Union, we offer a number of seed potato varieties:

Goldrush – a medium-large russet potato with long spuds; excellent flavor and tastes good baked, boiled, or fried; stores well
Chieftan – red rounds potato with a high-yield potential; thin, coppery skin; firm, moist flesh; stores well
Cobbler – round, white, mealy potato; early maturing; delicious taste; medium size
Green Mountain – round white, late-season potato; high-yield potential; light tan-skinned, delicious taste; stores well
Katahdin – round white potato; smooth, buff skin; drought resistant; high yield potential; adaptable to various growing conditions; stores well
Kennebec – round white potato; medium- to late-maturing; high yield potential; stores well; grown for both fresh market and chipping
Adirondack Blue – blue-flesh potato with a purple tint; works well for boiling, baking, and mashing
Yukon Gold – yellow flesh potato with think, smooth eye-free skin; works well for both dry heat and wet heat cooking methods; waxy, moist flesh and sweet flavor
Superior – round white-skinned, white-fleshed, midseason potato; often used for chipping right from the field; high yield potential; commonly used to make potato chips
Russet – long, large potato with rough skin; high in starch; commonly used for baking
Red Pontiac – thin, red-skinned potato; shallow eyes and crisp white flesh; perfect for mashing; grows well in heavy soils
Norwis – round, white potato with smooth, light-buff skin; often used for potato chips
Norland – red-skinned, white flesh potato; often used for salads or boiling; not good for baking; short-season; adaptable to cooler climates

Our seed potatoes for sale are sourced from the reputable Maine Farmers Exchange and are available at all of our 10 retail stores, either by the pound or in 50-pound bags for the more ambitious potato farmers out there. 

Now that you’ve decided on the type of potato you’re going to grow, it’s time to consider your local growing conditions. Where you live will dictate when the time is right for you to plant your seed potatoes. You want to be sure to wait until the risk of a deep frost is over (light frosts shouldn’t be harmful). You also want to time it so that your potatoes have a window of 90 days for growing, so make sure the first frost isn’t creeping in toward the end of that period. 

Also consider the soil. The ideal soil temperature is above 50 degrees F – although if the soil is too hot, the potatoes will start to cook before they’re fully grown. Soil moisture is another factor: If the soil is too moist, your potatoes may rot. 

A popular technique that is used to decrease that 90-day growing period is “chitting” your potatoes. Chitting potatoes is the process of growing sprouts on your seed potatoes before planting them in the ground. Sprouting should be started about a month before you plan to plant the potatoes and involves placing the potatoes in a sunny spot or perhaps under a fluorescent lamp. When planting these chitted potatoes, keep the sprouts facing up – and don’t let them break. Chitting potatoes is useful if you’re afraid it will get too cold or too hot for the potatoes. 

As for the actual planting, your seed potatoes should be planted about five or six inches deep in the soil. If you’re planning to use pieces of potatoes, each square should be about one-and-a-half to two inches in size, or roughly one ounce, cut a couple days ahead of planting and kept in a cool, humid place for the interim. Separate each seed potato by two feet or so to ensure each has plenty of room to grow. Each potato – or piece of potato – planted should have one to two buds or spots from which sprouts will grow. As the potatoes are placed in the ground, point at least one of those buds upward so they’ll start growing in the right direction. 

A quick side note: It’s possible to save your seed potatoes from one year to the next, but this is risky, as potatoes can pick up soil-borne diseases that may affect future harvests.
Depending on the soil and growing conditions, you can usually estimate that for however many pounds of seed potatoes you plant, your harvest will be about 10 times that amount. So get ready for some home-grown goodness that adds delicious flavor to your plate. 

Feel free to share your experiences/questions/comments in a comment below. And good luck!
3 comments:
  1. It`s very interesting news for me,because I want to make a potatoes garden.Thanks for sharing this planting information. Actually there are various opinions on whether it’s best to plant whole potatoes or pieces of potatoes but choose are yours.If you want to know about this plantation you can see this article. Garden Ambition

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