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Growing Seed Potatoes | Planting, Caring, & Cultivating

Home > Gardener's Guide > Planting, Caring & Cultivating Potatoes

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Planting Potatoes and Care
Seed Potato Care
Potatoes can be planted in both fall and spring. Fall planting works best for the Southern States. Spring planting works best in Northern states. You will need at least 90 days of growing season before receiving a vine killing frost. If you don't have this much time, it'll be better to plant next spring.

Other considerations are soil temperature and whether the seed potatoes are sprouted and ready to grow. If the soil temperature is too hot, the seed potatoes may not make it. They may be cooked in the soil before they can grow.

There are some ways to encourage newly harvested seed potatoes to grow. The first is to place the seed potatoes in a desk drawer in a room that is 70 to 80 degrees F. Check them every 3 days to see if they've sprouted yet. The second is to place the seed potatoes in a paper bag with several banana peels. The out gassing of the banana peels may encourage the seed potatoes to sprout. The third method is to simply plant the seed potatoes, because the environment of the soil, if it's temperature is above 50 degrees F., is one of the best ways to encourage the potatoes to grow. If the soil is too cool, around 40 degrees F., then the potatoes will think it is too cold to grow and they will wait for the soil to warm up. When the potatoes get cold, the will go into dormancy, that is, go to sleep, and they will not want to grow until spring.

Potatoes may be planted as soon as the ground can be worked in the early spring, but you must use good judgment. The soil should be evenly moist, but not wet or soggy. If the soil is water logged when you dig, not only will you risk "caking" the soil, your seed Potatoes will probably rot before they even get started. A day or two before planting, use a sharp, clean knife to slice the larger seed Potatoes into "seeds". Each seed should be approximately 1 1/2-2inches square, and must contain at least 1 or 2 "eyes" or buds. Smaller Potatoes may be planted whole. In the next day or so, your 'seed' will form a thick callous over the cuts, which will help to prevent it from rotting once planted.

Potatoes in a Pound:
As an average, in 1 pound of seed potatoes, you will receive from 5 to 8 tubers. You can plant all the tubers whole. Or, to get more plants, you can cut a few of the larger ones so that you have at least one eye on each piece. In the picture below, you will see how to make 5 seed potatoes into 10. Use a multiple of 10 to figure out how many pounds you need. Figure 1 lb will plant 10 feet, 2 lbs will plant 20 feet, 3 lbs will plant 30 feet, and so on.

Potential Yield:
To figure out potential yield, multiply the pounds planted by 10. So, if you plant 5 lbs. of seed potatoes, you should yield 50 lbs of potatoes. This is a good starting point for estimating the yield, however, many gardeners are able to bring in much higher yields due to great soil and great growing conditions.