If you are an avid grower, you’ll know the importance of saving seed for the next planting season. One of the most popular vegetables to grow are potatoes. Potatoes are relatively easy to grow and can be stored for a long time in the correct conditions. However, to grow potatoes each year as efficiently as possible, you should aim to keep your good seed potatoes for planting next year.
Choosing and preparing seed potatoes
Seed potatoes are small potatoes that are used for planting. They should be about the size of an egg or smaller. It is important to choose healthy and disease-free seed potatoes to ensure the crop grows to its full potential. When the potato harvest has finished, the large potatoes should be sorted from the small potatoes. The large potatoes will be used for eating – also known as “ware” and the small potatoes will be kept as seed for the next years planting. Seed potatoes need to be stored properly to prevent them from rotting or drying out. The most important points about storage are that the seed potatoes are kept in a cool, dark, and dry place.
The potatoes you are going to keep for planting should be of good quality. Potatoes that have been grown for too many years can harbor diseases and produce poor yields -make sure you know how old your seed potatoes are before deciding to keep them.
Selecting the right size
When selecting seed potatoes, it is important to choose the right size. Seed potatoes should be about the size of a golf ball or 1.5 to 2 inches or 35mm to 55mm in diameter. Any smaller than this and they may not have enough energy to grow properly. Any larger than this and you’re planting potatoes that could have been eaten.
Preparing seed potatoes for storage
Before storing seed potatoes, it is important to prepare them properly. First, gently brush off any excess soil or debris. Then, allow them to dry completely in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area for a few days – known as curing the potatoes. This will help prevent rot and disease during storage.
Seed potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, and humid environment. Ideally, the temperature should be between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level of around 90%. A root cellar or basement is a good option, as long as it meets these conditions.
It is also important to store seed potatoes separately from eating potatoes. Eating potatoes are often treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting, which can affect the germination of seed potatoes. Additionally, any disease or rot in eating potatoes can spread to seed potatoes, reducing their viability.
Storing Seed Potatoes
After harvesting your potatoes, you’ll need to keep them for planting next year. Proper storage is crucial to ensure that your seed potatoes remain viable and healthy until the next planting season. In this section, we will cover the three main steps to storing seed potatoes: choosing a storage location, preparing seed potato storage containers, and storing seed potatoes.
Choosing a storage location
The ideal storage location for seed potatoes is a cool, dark, and dry place. A temperature range of 35-40°F (1.7-4.4°C) is optimal, as temperatures above 50°F (10°C) can cause sprouting and spoilage. Additionally, the storage area should be well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup and rot.
Some suitable storage locations include a root cellar, basement, or garage. If you don’t have access to a cool and dark space, you can use a refrigerator or a cooler as a makeshift storage area. Just make sure to keep the temperature consistently low and avoid storing the potatoes near fruits or vegetables that release ethylene gas, which can cause sprouting.
Preparing storage containers
Before storing your seed potatoes, it’s important to choose and prepare your storage containers properly. Choose containers that are breathable and allow for air circulation, such as wooden or cardboard boxes with open or slatted sides, burlap sacks or paper bags can also be used. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and cause rot. The containers should be clean and dry.
Storing seed potatoes
Once your containers are prepared, filled, and marked with the potato variety, you should set them in your chosen storage area, making sure to monitor the temperature and humidity levels regularly. Check for any signs of rot or sprouting, and remove any affected potatoes immediately.
It’s important to handle your seed potatoes carefully during storage to prevent damage and rot. Avoid dropping or jostling the containers, and make sure to keep pests or rodents away from them, as they might be attracted to the potatoes for food.
You should be able to store these until the weather heats up in March – at which time the seed potatoes will naturally begin to form sprouts and will need to be planted.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your seed potatoes remain healthy and viable for planting next year. Remember to store only the healthiest and most mature potatoes, and aim to keep at least 10% more than you need for planting to account for any losses due to rot or damage.
How many seed potatoes to keep?
Calculating the right number of seed potatoes to keep for planting next year is important to ensure a successful harvest. Several factors can affect the number of seed potatoes you need, including the size of the potatoes, the variety, and the size of your garden.
Calculating the number of seed potatoes needed
One way to calculate the number of seed potatoes needed is to use the rule of thumb that one pound of seed potatoes will plant a 10-foot row. So, if you have a 20-foot row, you will need two pounds of seed potatoes. If you have a small garden, you may only need a few pounds of seed potatoes. However, if you have a larger plot, you may need several pounds of seed potatoes to plant all of your rows. I wrote a helpful article about how many potatoes to plant for a family of 4.
Another way to calculate the number of seed potatoes needed is to estimate the number of plants you want to grow. A good rule of thumb is to plant one seed potato for every foot of row. So, if you have a 20-foot row, you will need 20 seed potatoes. If you want to grow 50 plants, you will need 50 seed potatoes.
Factors affecting the number of seed potatoes needed
The number of seed potatoes you need can vary depending on several factors:
- Size of potatoes: Smaller seed potatoes can be planted closer together than larger seed potatoes, so you may need more small potatoes to fill a row.
- Spacing: The spacing between plants can vary depending on the variety of potatoes and the size of the potato. Some varieties require more space than others, so you may need fewer seed potatoes to fill a row.
- Harvest: If you plan to harvest baby potatoes or new potatoes, you may need to plant more seed potatoes to get a larger harvest.
By considering these factors, you can calculate the right number of seed potatoes needed for your garden to ensure a successful harvest next year.
Overall, keeping seed potatoes for planting next year is a simple process that can be done by any home grower. The key is to select healthy tubers which are the right size, store them properly, and keep the right amount for planting next year.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that you have a bountiful crop of potatoes next year without having to purchase more new seed. Remember to choose healthy potatoes that are free from disease, and store them in a cool, dark place, with good ventilation. Also, make sure to keep enough seed potatoes for planting next year, as this will help ensure a successful harvest.
For more information on growing potatoes, be sure to check out our other articles on GrowerExperts. With the right knowledge and tools, you can enjoy a steady supply of delicious, homegrown potatoes for years to come.