Monday, April 27, 2009

What's A Seed Potato?

The other day while reading a friend's Facebook posting, I ran across this question, "What's A Seed Potato?"

No potato's don't come from seeds, so please don't run to your local hardware or seed supply store looking for them, seed potatoes are simply regular potatoes that are "growing"... "So does that mean I can plant the potatoes I bought at the grocery store into the ground to grow MORE potatoes?"

The answer is really, yes AND no. Most store bought potatoes have growth inhibitors so they DON'T sprout as well - But you may be able to look for potatoes that are not treated - Think possibly organically grown potatoes or ones from your local farmers market! It's best though to get authentic seed potatoes from your garden center as potatoes found in other resources may not be disease resistant!

"How to I plant my seed potatoes?" It's a simple answer really, cut your seed potatoes (sprouting potatoes) into small chunks with each piece containing at least (1) eye - Or in layman's terms, one area where the potato is beginning to sprout. Aren't you glad you asked?

You CAN plant the potatoes into the ground, a raised bed or even a potato bag. I purchased my potato bags from the Gardeners Supply Company, but they are simply a bag that can hold soil and has great drainage. A friend even told me of planting them into an old trash can that had holes added into it, and I have even read about someone planting their potatoes INTO their purchased bag of compost (emptying it and filling it as I describe below.)!

I harvested (oh I don't know) 10+ pounds from 1 seed potato per bag - pretty good return in my opinion!

To start, cover the bottom of the bag with a thin layer of compost. Plant the seed potatoes in the bottom of the bag and lightly cover with loose soil, compost or straw. When the potatoes begin to sprout, add another thin layer of soil, comport or straw, then add another after more sprouting, and another after even more sprouting, until the bag is full. In the fall when the foliage begins to yellow and the flowers have faded, dump out your bag and harvest yummy home-grown new potatoes. (This should be a no-brainer, but don't forget to water your potato plants!)

This is a GREAT kids project in the garden too!!! My kids LOVE seeing how many potatoes they get each year...

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