Seed potatoes or regular grocery store bought?

MariposaTraicionera(7)July 13, 2008

I was told that we could use regular store bought potatoes for planting. Just make sure they start growing indoors and then plant. Is this true? The person who recommends grocery store bought potatoes over seed potatoes said this is what she has been doing. She gets smaller potatoes. She also plants them in big containers and not in the ground.

Dawn & others who plant potatoes, could you chime in please? Is it too late to plant potatoes in OK for a late fall harvest? I'd like to try more container gardening because it's easier on the back, and hopefully avoids pests/bugs?

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


If I have a choice, as one does in the spring, between certified seed potatoes and potatoes from the grocery store, I will always choose certified seed potatoes. The "certified" means that they have been tested and are certified to be free of diseases that can cause you to lose your crop. I think probably they have been sprayed with something, too, to prevent disease. Because potatoes are prone to many diseases, you increase your odds of getting a good, disease-free yield if you plant certified seed potatoes. I've grown them both ways over the years--from grocery store potatoes and from certified seed potatoes, and I always have more disease issues with grocery store potatoes.

When planting for fall, it is virtually impossible to find certified seed potatoes either locally or online for planting in late summer for a fall harvest. No one carries them locally in southern Oklahoma because so few people plant them (or anything else) for fall. Online retailers, like Wood Prairie Farm, usually sell out of their year's supply of seed potatoes by May or June.

Sometimes, I harvest spring-planted potatoes early enough that I can use some of them for fall seed potatoes. (They have to go through a dormancy of a couple of months before they can initate sprouts.) For that to work, I have to harvest them in early June to have even a chance of them sprouting in August.

Usually, for fall potatoes, I go to an organic Grocery Store like Whole Foods or Central Market (in the Dallas-Fort Worth area 80 miles south of us) and buy organic potatoes to use as seed potatoes. Why organic? Because conventionally-raised potatoes are often sprayed with an anti-sprouting agent to prevent them from sprouting. Also, I like to grow some of the unusual heirloom fingerling type potatoes, and Whole Foods or Central Market have a larger selection than any store near me. I don't make a special trip (especially with this year's fuel prices) to get seed potatoes, but pick them up when we are on a shopping trip for school clothes. (No kids left in school, but DS's fiancee' is still in college and we like to go clothes shopping in July before she heads off to college in August, so I'll get my seed potatoes then--maybe this week.)

It is possible to plant potatoes for fall, but it is sometimes difficult to get them to grow in hot soil. Your chances for success are best if you plant them in soil that is mulched to keep it cooler. Also, temporarily shading the ground OR the containers to keep them cooler during the hottest part of the day helps. As the weather cools, the shading will not be necessary. Green-sprouting the potatoes indoors is preferable....I do it both in the spring and the fall.

I'll find and link some info on growing potatoes above the ground....people do it in flower-pot type containers, plastic or rubber trash cans with holes drilled for drainage, wire cages filled with compost and mulch, bushel baskets, or even just potatoes laid on bare soil and then covered with compost and mulch. As the plants grow, you pile up more and more compost, soil or mulch around them. This is called "dirting" the potatoes and it increases your yield.

If you have potato bugs in your area, nothing will keep them away from your plants, but they are easy to hand-pick and drown in a bucket of soapy water OR flick off the plant and squish under your shoe. Or, you can use the specific Bt (a bacteria) product that targets the Colorado Potato Beetle. I didn't have any Colorado Potato Beetles this year, and usually I do, so maybe they are not too bad this year.

I usually plant fall potatoes in August, but you are further north and probably ought to plant them in July there.


Here is a link that might be useful: Potato Growing Info

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 11:17AM
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I keep my potatoes in a big earthenware bowl on an antique kitchen cabinet -- you know those that have a granite top and the flour sifter behind a door on one side, above the granite top? Anyway, I do it cause I like the way they look there. Invariably, they start to sprout before I get them all used up.

When my dad was still alive, he couldn't get over the fact that my store potatoes were full of sprouts. He took some home and planted them and got a crop from them. He told me he always thought you couldn't plant store potatoes because they are sprayed with a sprouting inhibitor so they will store better. The same with yams.

A year ago this last spring, I decided to do the same. DH was hungry for new potatoes and I thought this would be an easy way to use up those potatoes that were past their prime. I cut them into pieces, dusted them with dirt, let them dry out a bit and then planted them in containers and they did well. After they finished blooming I tipped them out of the containers and we had several meals of creamed new potatoes and peas, and new potatoes and green beans, and fried new potatoes. I guess I must've had about 8 plants. I had a new raised bed that I was trying to fill up at the time, and so I just dumped the plant into the raised bed along with other stuff -- pulled weeds, kitchen scraps, etc., etc., and we had a lot of rain about then. Some of those uprooted potato plants actually took root there and yielded another harvest, though small. But here's the surprise: I have two potato plants in my raised bed now, growing. Did I plant potatoes this year? NO. Some of the little potatoes I missed wintered over! In fact, I accidentally dug up one little potato this spring and it was about 2" long and maybe an inch in diameter. Mother Nature never fails to amaze me.

Last January, I bought some yams and didn't get around to eating them. I'm the only one in my household that likes them, now that DD is grown and moved out. They began to sprout, though weakly. I cut them into pieces and dusted them with sulphur and laid them on the counter to dry out. Some of them rotted. Some just kind of stalled. After the ground warmed I planted what I had left in one of my raised beds. Now, I have to say I didn't see any activity for a long time and I thought they went ahead and rotted, too. Then one day I saw some little heart-shaped leaves popping out of the soil, all in a bunch, and before long the vines just took over the bed. I'm looking forward to my sweet potato harvest AND to getting a few little new potatoes to make DH happy!

I think next spring, I'll put the sweet potato in water, inside, to sprout. My mother always used to keep a sweet potato in water in a bean pot on top of the refrigerator. It would make TONS of vines and she'd just treat it like a houseplant. After awhile the sweet potato would start to rot and then she'd just throw it out and start another one. But I bet there's a "window of opportunity" there, when the potato is well sprouted but has not started to rot yet. Then it could be cut into sections and planted, maybe. --Ilene

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Thanks Dawn and Ilene. I'm excited about trying potatoes.

Dawn, have you tried taro root?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 3:07PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Grocery store potatoes are sprayed with anti-sprouting chemicals, but they wear off (slowly). Most potatos from places like Idaho are harvested in late summer to mid-fall (since cold weather comes early there) and are kept in cold storage for MONTHS before we buy them. In light of how old they are, it is a wonder they aren't sprouting while they are still in the store!

I have thrown "old" potatoes I thought were unfit for human consumption on the compost pile in the fall, and had potato plants sprout from them 6 to 8 months later. And, I inevitably miss a small potato or two in the summer when I am harvesting, and those will resprout the following spring.

You can make your own sweet potato slips by rooting a sweet potato in water OR in a bowl of wet sand. I've done it both ways.

Mari, I've never tried taro root, but I've bought it at Whole Foods, where it is sometimes labeled as taro and sometimes as malanga, I think, and grown it. (For the lovely lush elephant ears.)


    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 6:09PM
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Dawn, the taro leaves can be eaten. I had it in the Caribbean in a dish with Okra, onions, garlic and coconut milk. It was delish.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 8:33PM
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