I used to think that growing potatoes was too much work for the end result. Then a friend’s homegrown Yukon Gold potatoes completely changed my mind. Like almost anything that’s homegrown, they just tasted so much better. For me, it should be safe to plant potatoes this week, so I brought my seed potatoes out to sprout them. Sprouting the potatoes encourages early growth, and speeds up production of tubers – something I’m always interested in because of our short season.
Sprouting Seed Potatoes
I purchased certified seed potatoes months ago (Yukon Gold and Purple Viking this year) when there was a good selection, and kept them cool (40 degrees) in a dark root cellar until two weeks ago. Then I spread them out on a tray in a room with medium light, and 70 degree temperatures. The warmth promotes development of strong sprouts, and the light causes them to stay short and stubby (not weak or easily broken off). This step adds a little more work, but results in quicker tuber development and also heavier yields.
Cutting Seed Potatoes
Small potatoes (the size of a small egg) can be planted whole, but larger potatoes should be cut into smaller pieces. The ideal potato seed is a 2 ounce block with two or more eyes. After cutting, the seed pieces should be left at room temperature for at least twenty-four hours, allowing them to firm up and reduce the chance of rotting. After twenty-four hours (and if it ever quits raining), I’ll plant them using the “lazy bed method”.