Potatoes are a delicious staple for cultures all over the world. They are easy to grow, easy to store, simple to cook, and they provide a wide range of nourishing results. Potatoes are grown from "seed" potatoes: perfect quality, disease-free potatoes saved from the previous season. These potatoes are usually obtained from vegetable seed companies, but you can save your own potatoes, especially if you are growing heirloom varieties with limited distribution. Change your growing location each year to protect from diseases, and you should be able to use your own potatoes from seed every year. Think about obtaining new seed potatoes if your yield decreases or you notice any problems with crop disease.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Sawdust, wood shavings, straw or newspaper
- Laundry baskets, plastic crates or substitute
- Seed potatoes
Choose your largest, most beautiful, perfect potatoes at the end of the season. Perfect is important; you want potatoes that have no dents or bruises, no obvious signs of any imperfection. Remember that you can produce 3.63 to 4.54 Kilogram of potatoes from every pound of seed potatoes. Decide how many pounds of potatoes you want to produce next season, then save 15 to 20 per cent of that weight in seed potatoes. In other words, if you want to grow 45.4 Kilogram of potatoes next year, save 15 to 20 pounds of seed potatoes.
Select your storage location. It must be dark, cool and dry all winter, and protected from freezing. The ideal spot has a constant temperature between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. This can be anyplace--a root cellar, garage, basement, or even a dark, unheated closet.
Choose your packing material. Wood shavings are ideal, but any material that will absorb moisture and keep the potatoes separate from each other will work. Other suggested materials are straw or newspaper. Even packing peanuts can work if they are placed to allow air circulation and block light.
Choose your storage container. Laundry baskets are ideal because they are well-ventilated, but any container that allows good air circulation can be used. Plastic dustbins or bags will work, but you need to cut air holes in the sides. Any container must also be protected on the top from invading marauders and on the bottom from moisture. Another ideal container would be a simple circle of fine-gauge metal mesh with a lid and a protected bottom surface.
Stack your potatoes, surrounding each one with packing material. Allow for at least an inch of separation between potatoes. Pack loosely, allowing for air circulation throughout the container.
Allow your potatoes to sit undisturbed, sleeping in the dark and cool. Check for off smells, but otherwise leave things alone until about two weeks before your planting time. Then carefully remove your stored potatoes and proceed as you would with purchased seed potatoes. Your potatoes will probably be slightly shrivelled and may have started to sprout. Protect the sprouts as best you can. Your potatoes should start growing as soon as they are planted.
Tips and warnings
- Plant potatoes in a new location each year--a spot that hasn't grown potatoes, tomatoes, peppers or eggplant for the previous three years.
- Growing your potatoes can be done in much the same way as storing them, just at higher temperatures. You can use the same containers for both purposes.
- Do not allow your potatoes to freeze.
- Do not allow the storage temperature to go above 40 degrees.
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