Tips On How To Start Your Seed Potatoes

Growing potatoes in your own garden is the best way to ensure they're organic, full of nutrients, and taste great. There's a small window of time when the weather is right for your garden to flourish, so you need to start as early as possible. An easy way to do this is by sprouting, or chitting, already grown potatoes and cutting each one up for multiple plants. These become what are called seed potatoes. When you pre-sprout them, you can harvest your crops earlier in the season, resulting in more potatoes overall.

You should time your garden plantings based on the last frost date for your area. Since potatoes are a cool weather crop, you want to plant them a month before the projected final frost, but you have to start chitting them six weeks before you can put them into the soil. Potatoes don't do well in hot weather and can even die if it reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so you want to ensure your plants have enough time to grow. Once you know the ideal time for your location, you can get started.

Chit and cut your potatoes

To start chitting potatoes, you'll need to find the best place in your home to promote sprouts because it'll still be too cold outside. Seed potatoes need the room temperature to be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The area should also have bright, indirect light from the sun or a fluorescent grow lamp. When you're ready, gather some potatoes and a tray like an old egg carton. Place each one in a section of the tray, with the eyes facing up. Then leave them for about a month.

Your seed potatoes will be ready for the next step when they have thick green sprouts. Leave them in the tray until one to two days before you want to plant them. Cutting each one into multiple seed potatoes is an easy way to double your harvest. Once it's time, use a clean knife to chop each seed potato into 2-inch squares. Just make sure that each piece has one to two eyes on it. You should only plant a seed potato whole if it's smaller than a golf ball. The cuts should be calloused over and the pieces ready to go into the ground by the next day.

How to plant seed potatoes

Now that you've started your seed potatoes, it's time to plant them. If you want to put them into a container, you'll need one that holds 10 to 15 gallons and is 2 to 3 feet tall. For the growing medium, potatoes prefer a 50/50 combination of soilless potting mix and compost. Start by filling your planter with 6 to 8 inches of your mix. Then place your seed potatoes with a foot of space around them. Once you have your layer of seedlings, add another 6 inches of soil on top. You'll need to continuously top off the container with more dirt as the plants grow.

You can also plant your seed potatoes directly into the earth. You'll need to dig a hole about 6 inches deep for this option. If your soil lacks any nutrients, now is the time to add slow-release fertilizer. Then you can put your potatoes into the hole with the sprouts pointing up. They should be placed about 16 inches apart from each other. Next, shovel the soil back into the hole. There should only be about 6 inches of foliage coming out of the soil at a time.