Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to Prep Seed Potatoes

In honor of St. Patrick's day and my Irish ancestors, I will devote today's blog post to the most versatile side dish that ever did sprout...the TATER.  Potatoes are cheap so why should you grow your own?

Because they are easy to grow and when they are just outside your door you never have to worry about having enough for the recipe you need.  Just go out and dig up a few immature spuds and call them "new potatoes", no emergency trip to Wal-Mart necessary.  Plus they keep for a very long time if kept in a cool place during the fall and winter so your summer harvest could last you well into spring if properly stored.  As always too, so that you can know exactly where your food has come from, what it has/has not been sprayed with and exactly how old it is; lessening your own carbon footprint and saving you money.

Plus you can grow them in cool new ways like we are in our potato towers.  I have even heard of people growing them in stacked tires, but of course you can always do it like the Irish did and just bury them in the dirt.  They aren't picky, just keep them well watered.  As long as they are prepared correctly for planting you should not have any trouble.

Here is how you prep your seed potatoes for planting:

  1. Choose a certified disease-free seed potato, like this large Kennebec white variety.  This is important so that you do not start out with already sickly potatoes.

  2. Leaving two to three eyes per potato and about 1-2 inches of "flesh" on the spud, cut them in to halves or quarters to get the most out of your seeders.

   3. Lay them out in a cool, dry spot with the cut side facing up and let them scab over.  This allows a scab to form over the exposed flesh to keep them from rotting and molding.

    4.  After about 3 days a hardened scab should form and now your seed potatoes are ready for planting.

Plant potatoes outside 3-4 weeks before the last anticipated frost date.  Potato leaves are very sensitive to cold so if you plant them too early the may be killed by cooler temperatures