Seed Swaps

Potatoes take over

28 Mar 2011
15°C / 59°F

My advice: if you are the kind of person who finds it hard to take the life of a thriving plant, don’t sprout a whole five pounds of potatoes.
I was really successful in sprouting potatoes in disposable transparent plastic-covered aluminum lasagna pans covered in damp sand. Every potato sprouted. The organic russets from Trader Joe responded to the sand and sunshine treatment by producing a tangled mass of roots like spaghetti. Once I separated them underwater from the sand and each other I had a number of sprouted potatoes, each sporting a beard of six-inch rootlets, ready for planting.
Last week I planted half of them in roll-up bags and two-foot planters. This week I was faced with the decision of whether to find a way to plant the other half or callously consign them to death by landfill. My heart won. I now have 30 (correction: 20) sprouted potatoes tucked in to various partially filled planters, bags, and pots, which I will top off as they grow. And already I am finding ways to justify this excess, such as being prepared for the next earthquake with a ready supply of food stored up underground. And if each potato (with 2-3 sprouts) produces 2.5 pounds, that would be 75 (correction, 50) pounds of potatoes, a (still) respectable stash.
I had a bad year for potatoes last year, due to my own inexperience; I managed to harvest a few from hanging bags, but the soil dried out on the outer edges next to the bag, since the bags were made of poly fabric and very porous, and the middle was too wet, due to an excessive amount of peat moss in the soil. The situation in the potato towers was much worse, as I drowned the potatoes over time, and ended up with nothing there, the potatoes having rotted away long before I tried to dig them out.
This year I hope to learn from these lessons and build confidence by using larger, water proof bags with drainage holes in the bottom for some, and foot-deep wood planters for others; and black plastic lined 5-gallon buckets for still others. If I am successful with that I will try the towers again next year after confidence returns.
Meantime the twelve 2′ × 2′ × 6″ frames I will split up among three cucurbit cultivars as a kind of simulated hill, a 2 foot cube, and train them onto trellises. Or maybe four cultivars at 1 1/2 ’ x 2′ × 2′: Sugar baby watermelon, acorn squash, crookneck squash, and a pear shaped summer variety (whose name is in dispute.)

1: potatoes 1-7
2: potatoes 8-14
3: potatoes 15-18
4: potatoes 19-20
5. typical spud after sand tray growth.






Folia Helper

United States5b

You can still eat them when they’re sprouted. Just cut out the eyes. They still taste ok even if they’re on the slightly flaccid side from putting energy into sprouts.

Posted on 28 Mar 11 (over 8 years ago)

“good to know.” Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted

Posted on 28 Mar 11 (over 8 years ago)

Updated pictures. And it was 20, not 30 potatoes.

Posted on 30 Mar 11 (over 8 years ago)

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