How To Pick Seed Potatoes For Your Spring Garden
Kevin Felts 02.22.18
For those of you who do not know what a seed potato is, it is a potato that is used to grow potatoes. Potato plants are not grown from seed, they are grown from potatoes.
During the early spring (January and February) farm supply stores will start getting the seed potatoes in stock. The store will usually have the potatoes in bins on display where they can be seen. Walk up to teh bin, look through the selection, and pick some potatoes out.
Since the seed potatoes are sold by the pound, it makes sense to get the most plants out of the seed potatoes as possible. How does someone get more plants from a potato? By cutting the seed potatoes into chunks.
The basics of growing potatoes:
- Go to the farm supply store.
- Pick out the seed potatoes they want.
- Buy them, they are usually sold by the pound.
- Take the seed potatoes home.
- Let the potatoes sprout eyes over the next few days.
- Cut the seed potatoes into sections
- Plant the cuttings, along with fertilizer.
- Plants will grow for a few months,
When someone goes to buy their seed potatoes, they may think bigger is better, and that is not always true. Sprouts along with a small piece of potato will be cut off. What you are left with is the center of the potato that will be useless for planting. Someone could boil it and eat it. However, if someone wanted to buy potatoes for eating, buying them from the grocery store is cheaper that buying seed potatoes.
Could someone buy potatoes from the grocery store and plant them if they sprouted?
Of course they could. However, grocery store potatoes are usually sprayed with a sprout inhibitor – chlorpropham or maleic hydrazide. The chemicals prevent the store bought potatoes from spouting eyes.
Picking Seed Potatoes
Look for potatoes between the size of a silver dollar and your fist.
Silver dollar size – Will usually be cut in half, and planted with the cut side down. Or even plant them whole if they are too small to cut in half.
Fist size – Can usually be cut into three of four pieces.
By going this route and staying away from large seed potatoes, there is going to be little waste.
Let’s say someone buys 12 silver dollar seed potatoes and cuts them in half. This should give the person around 24 plants. Each seed is going to be planted around 12 inches apart. So we know 12 seed potatoes would plant a row around 24 feet long.
Some people may space their cuttings a little further apart so they have a row around 30 feet long.
Another example. Let’s say we wanted to plant a row 100 feet long. So we would look for 25 seed potatoes large enough to cut into quarters.
This gives us an idea of how many seed potatoes should be bought for the size garden we wish to plant.
Not every cutting is going to sprout and grow. The fail rate is very low, but it does happen. Several years ago I planted three rows of potatoes 100 feet long. Out of those cuttings, there were a handful that did not sprout.
The next topic will be cutting the potatoes and getting them ready to plant.
Our goal is to go from picking the seed potatoes, and taking the reader step-by-step from planting to harvesting. Stay tuned for the next articles in this series.