Note: Several readers have requested posts on topics that have already appeared here – this is one of those posts that has been updated and republished.
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.
So now, we grow potatoes every year and potato planting preparation includes pre-sprouting the seed potato tubers to encourage early growth, improve yields, and speed up production of tubers – something I’m always interested in because of our short season. These extra steps take just a few minutes but do seem to help improve production.
Pre – Sprouting Seed Potatoes
I purchase certified seed potatoes (Yukon Gold and Purple Viking (in these photos) when there is a good selection, and keep them cool (40 degrees) in a dark root cellar until about two weeks before I intend to plant them. 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, I plant them using the “lazy bed method”.