The Joy of Growing Fresh Potatoes from Sprouts

Are you tired of tossing those sprouted potatoes into the compost heap or wasting them in the pantry? Don’t despair! Sprouted potatoes are actually perfect for planting and can easily be transformed into a bountiful harvest of fresh, new potatoes in just a few weeks. Get ready to experience the joy of growing your own potatoes at home, even if you don’t have a green thumb.

Planting Sprouted Potatoes: A Surprisingly Easy Process

Planting sprouted potatoes might sound like a complex task, but it’s actually quite straightforward. Whether you choose to grow them in raised beds, containers, or directly in the soil, the process remains relatively similar. No matter your experience level, this guide will walk you through the steps.

When’s the Best Time to Plant Sprouted Potatoes?

In general, potatoes are planted around 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. You can think of it as two weeks prior to the appearance of the first spring dandelions. However, you can also plant potatoes during the summer and early autumn, as long as you have at least 8 weeks before the first hard winter frosts.

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Where Should You Plant Sprouted Potatoes?

The beauty of growing potatoes is that they are quite adaptable. They thrive in both full sun and part shade, making them suitable for various locations, including backyard patios. As for soil quality, potatoes prefer average-quality soil. Avoid using overly rich or compost-heavy soil, as it can cause the potatoes to rot. Well-drained soil is a must to prevent waterlogged conditions.

How Long Should Potato Sprouts Be Before Planting?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to wait for potato sprouts to reach a specific length before planting. Even tiny sprouts measuring only 1 or 2 millimeters are suitable for planting. However, if the sprouts exceed a quarter of an inch, it’s best to consign them to planting rather than eating, as the potatoes may begin producing toxins.

Do You Plant Potatoes with Sprouts Up or Down?

When planting sprouted potatoes, it’s ideal to position the sprouts facing upward. However, potatoes are resilient and will manage to grow regardless of their initial orientation. For delicate long sprouts, you can lay them horizontally in a trench and gently cover them with soil. This method allows vertical shoots to emerge from the sprout, maximizing your yield.

To Cut or Not to Cut Sprouted Potatoes?

Cutting sprouted potatoes before planting is entirely optional. Although commercial growers often cut potatoes into pieces with two sprouts each, you can skip this step if you prefer. Whole potatoes typically yield faster and more vigorous growth early in the season. Cutting them may increase your short-season new potato yield, but it may reduce the overall harvest for long-season storage potatoes.

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The Right Depth and Spacing for Sprouted Potatoes

When planting sprouted potatoes, aim for a planting depth of 6 to 8 inches. In pots or grow bags, try to plant them as deep as possible while leaving a couple of inches of soil beneath the potatoes. For spacing, plant them 12 to 16 inches apart in rows spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. If you prefer a patch-style planting, simply space them 16 inches apart in all directions.

Should You Hill Potato Plants?

Hilling potato plants, which means mounding soil around the stems, is not mandatory for all types of potatoes. Determinate potatoes, such as fingerlings and yellow or golden potatoes, don’t require hilling. They grow and produce potatoes at or below the depth where the original potato was planted. However, indeterminate potatoes may benefit from hilling as they continue to set potatoes along their stems.

How Long Does It Take for Potato Plants to Grow?

Potatoes offer flexibility when it comes to harvest time. You can harvest potatoes at any point during the plant’s development. The maturity timeframe varies depending on the variety, but smaller, early-season potatoes and fingerlings typically mature in 60 to 80 days, while longer-season storage potatoes require 80 to 135 days. Harvesting early, at around 8 weeks after planting, will yield small, tender new potatoes.

How to Harvest Potatoes

Harvesting potatoes is a simple process that can be started about 8 weeks after planting, right after the potatoes set flowers. However, you can continue to harvest until about 2 weeks after the plants completely die back at the end of the growing season. Carefully dig around each plant to unearth the potatoes, ensuring you don’t damage them in the process. Expect the potatoes to be at or slightly below the original planting depth, spreading out laterally from the parent plant.

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The Pleasure of Growing Your Own Fresh Potatoes

Growing fresh potatoes from sprouts is a rewarding experience that offers a taste of self-reliance. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there’s something magical about harvesting your own homegrown spuds. So, don’t let those sprouted potatoes go to waste. With a little bit of effort and the information shared in this guide, you can transform them into a delicious crop of your very own potatoes.

Ames Farm Center

Images: Practical Self Reliance