Potatoes are one of the easiest crops for the home gardener to grow. They have good yield and don't require especially wonderful soil; you can even grow them in straw. But the most important thing is to start with healthy, unblemished seed potatoes. Purchase certified, disease-free seed potatoes from a nursery in spring, or save your own from your previous crop. Once you have your seed potatoes, store them carefully until it is time to plant.
Things You'll Need
- Seed potatoes or homegrown medium-size unblemished potatoes
- Straw, newspaper or packing peanuts
- Storage box (or barrel, or crate)
Choose your seed potatoes. You can raise about ten to fifteen pounds of potatoes from one pound of seed potatoes. Make sure you choose only healthy potatoes, medium-sized, with distinct eyes. There should be no damage to the skin.
Select a storage location that will stay dark, cool and moderately dry. The temperature should stay around 35 degrees F, not going below freezing or above 40 degrees F. Try a garage, a basement or even an unheated closet. A dark root cellar is optimal.
Line your storage container(s) with packing material: straw, rolled or bunched up newspaper or packing peanuts. Make sure that you maintain room for air circulation.
Wrap each potato in a double layer of newspaper and place in the storage container, or bury each in a surrounding of straw or packing peanuts. Make sure to separate the potatoes - they should not touch each other or the container.
Move the filled container(s) to your storage location and leave your potatoes alone until about two weeks before you will be planting them. Remove them from storage and inspect them. Discard any that show signs of decomposition. It's okay if they are a bit shrunken or have sprouts.
You can now prepare your seed potatoes for planting.
Tips & Warnings
- Plant your potatoes in a different location each year.
- You can grow your potatoes in the straw you used to store them.
- People have used air-popped popcorn as an unconventional packing material.
- Do not plant your potatoes in a spot where you grew tomatoes, eggplant or peppers within the previous couple of years.
- Investigate any off odors over the winter and remove any potatoes that appear to be damaged.
How to Prepare Seed Potatoes for Planting
How you prepare seed potatoes for planting depends on their physiological age, which also determines the type of harvest you get.
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