Planting a sprouted potato

Can you really be poisoned by green or sprouting potatoes?

We’ve all been there, you buy some potatoes, pop them in the cupboard, and then promptly forget about them. Then the next time you open up the cupboard, you discover said potatoes have started sprouting and now resemble an alien lifeform. So what do you do? Do you cut off the sprouts and bring them to the boil, or chuck them in the bin deeming them inedible?

You may have heard horror stories of people being poisoned by sprouting potatoes, but is there actually any truth to any of these tales? To answer this question, first we need to know a little bit about what a potato actually is in terms of its botanical structure.

Many people think of potatoes as root vegetables because they grow underground like carrots, parsnips and other root crops. But in actual fact they are a type of “modified stem” known as a tuber. These are compacted, swollen stems which are produced underground and remain there when the “parent plant” (the old plant that produced this year’s crop) has died down. This allows the plants to survive through the cold winter period because the tubers are deep below the soil surface where they are protected from frost.

Most of us are aware that potatoes are high in carbohydrates. This is because they need enough stored food to survive the winter. Food in the form of sugars is created by photosynthesis – which you will remember from school biology classes is the process by which plants use energy from sunlight to produce glucose (or sugars) from carbon dioxide and water.

While some of this energy is used up by plants straight away, perennial plants – those that live for more than two growing seasons – will store energy for the onset of growth the following spring. They need this food to be able to generate sufficient energy to grow up to the soil surface and grow new leaves before they can start to photosynthesise. In other words, potatoes contain the “packed lunch” that will keep them alive through the winter and produce the first flush of growth.

If you look closely at a potato you will notice the “eyes” – the little spots you see when looking at the skin or peel of a potato. These are in fact the nodes of the stem. And on a normal stem above ground these give rise to new leaves and branches. These form the shoots that start to grow on potatoes if you leave them in the cupboard for too long.

They are triggered into growth by the warmth of your house and if they are exposed to any light this will accelerate the process. This is why potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark place for maximum shelf life.

Light and warmth also triggers the production of Solanine – a chemical which can cause symptoms of poisoning in humans if ingested in large quantities.

But what about when they turn green? Most of us are aware that we shouldn’t eat green potatoes. But why?

Exposure to light triggers certain physiological reactions within the tuber. The production of chlorophyll triggers the green colour – this is not at all harmful and indeed contains high quantities of beneficial minerals such as iron. It is also what creates the deep green colour found in all edible leafy green vegetables.

But light and warmth also triggers the production of Solanine – a chemical which can cause symptoms of poisoning in humans if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, headaches and dizziness. This chemical tends to be concentrated under the skin of the potatoes alongside the chlorophyll and also in the newly developing shoots. So it may be advisable not to eat green potatoes or those that have begun to grow shoots.

Of course, you can remove the green area of peel and the shoots which will reduce any chance of a toxic reaction but there can still be a bitter flavour to potatoes that have begun to grow. The start of the growth process will also begin the assimilation of the sugars and vitamins present which means that the potato is now less nutritious, too.

I just wouldn’t eat any with extensive shoot growth and dark green patches.

Having said that, when stuck for something to eat, I have knocked small shoots off potatoes and peeled off any green bits many a time. I just wouldn’t eat any with extensive shoot growth and dark green patches. Instead, these can be planted out to grow a new batch of potatoes.

They won’t be certified virus-free like a bought “seed” potato, but they should provide you with a small bounty later on. In winter, they will also need a frost-free environment to grow. And if you have no space to grow them and really hate waste then remove the shoots and green skin, boil them and chop them up and feed them to the birds. They’ll be delighted.

This story originally appeared on The Conversation. Read the original here. Lead image by Lynnita W via Flickr.

in the kitchen Melt-in-your-mouth Mazurian potato marjoram pie

My perpetually young-at-heart great auntie Krysia was my grandma Halinka’s younger sister, who lived in Olsztyn, not too far from the magical, meandering lake district called Mazury. She’s been making this potato pie for years, therefore the quantities and instructions she gave to me were ‘lots of marjoram, lots, lots’ and ‘a good amount of bacon, but not too much’. Here, I give you my interpretation of this delicious, family recipe.

Super-crisp roasted potatoes

Roasting potatoes is not quite as easy as roasting most other vegetables. See, with roast potatoes, we’ve got a different set of goals than when, say, roasting Brussels sprouts. First off, we want the potatoes to be cooked through all the way to the centre. Fluffy and moist is what we’re after. Second, we want the exterior to be extremely crisp. We’re talking crispier-than-a-French-fry crisp.

Salt cod, Dutch Cream and preserved lemon crocchetta

These tasty little numbers are inspired by a recipe from a restaurant I love in London called Moro. We often have them on the menu at Berta, as there’s usually a bit of house-salted fish laying around – this comes from our obsession with pickling, curing and salting. Dutch Creams are used in this recipe as they’re a waxy potato that stands up to the saltiness of the fish. I like the extra lemony flavour of this dish – preserved for a bit of tang and some zest to liven things up a bit.

Heston Blumenthal’s triple cooked chips

These chips are one of my proudest legacies! You see them on menus up and down the country now but the original recipe came out of endless experimenting at home long before I even opened the Fat Duck. The first secret is cooking the chips until they are almost falling apart as the cracks are what makes them so crispy. The second secret is allowing the chips to steam dry then sit in the freezer for an hour to get rid of as much moisture as possible. The final secret is to cook the chips in very hot oil for a crispy, glass-like crust.

We’ve all been there, you buy some potatoes, pop them in the cupboard, and then promptly forget about them. Then the next time you open up the cupboard, you discover said potatoes have started sprouting and now resemble an alien lifeform. So what do you do? Do you cut off the sprouts and bring them to the boil, or chuck them in the bin deeming them inedible?

You may have heard horror stories of people being poisoned by sprouting potatoes, but is there actually any truth to any of these tales? To answer this question, first we need to know a little bit about what a potato actually is in terms of its botanical structure.

Many people think of potatoes as root vegetables because they grow underground like carrots, parsnips and other root crops. But in actual fact they are a type of “modified stem” known as a tuber. These are compacted, swollen stems which are produced underground and remain there when the “parent plant” (the old plant that produced this year’s crop) has died down. This allows the plants to survive through the cold winter period because the tubers are deep below the soil surface where they are protected from frost.

How potatoes grow. Mamziolzi/

Most of us are aware that potatoes are high in carbohydrates. This is because they need enough stored food to survive the winter. Food in the form of sugars is created by photosynthesis – which you will remember from school biology classes is the process by which plants use energy from sunlight to produce glucose (or sugars) from carbon dioxide and water.

While some of this energy is used up by plants straight away, perennial plants – those that live for more than two growing seasons – will store energy for the onset of growth the following spring. They need this food to be able to generate sufficient energy to grow up to the soil surface and grow new leaves before they can start to photosynthesise. In other words, potatoes contain the “packed lunch” that will keep them alive through the winter and produce the first flush of growth.

Toxic tatties?

If you look closely at a potato you will notice the “eyes” – the little spots you see when looking at the skin or peel of a potato. These are in fact the nodes of the stem. And on a normal stem above ground these give rise to new leaves and branches. These form the shoots that start to grow on potatoes if you leave them in the cupboard for too long.

They are triggered into growth by the warmth of your house and if they are exposed to any light this will accelerate the process. This is why potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark place for maximum shelf life.

But what about when they turn green? Most of us are aware that we shouldn’t eat green potatoes. But why?

Not looking so good. panco971/

Exposure to light triggers certain physiological reactions within the tuber. The production of chlorophyll triggers the green colour – this is not at all harmful and indeed contains high quantities of beneficial minerals such as iron. It is also what creates the deep green colour found in all edible leafy green vegetables.

But light and warmth also triggers the production of Solanine – a chemical which can cause symptoms of poisoning in humans if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, headaches and dizziness. This chemical tends to be concentrated under the skin of the potatoes alongside the chlorophyll and also in the newly developing shoots. So it may be advisable not to eat green potatoes or those that have begun to grow shoots.

Grow your own

Of course, you can remove the green area of peel and the shoots which will reduce any chance of a toxic reaction but there can still be a bitter flavour to potatoes that have begun to grow. The start of the growth process will also begin the assimilation of the sugars and vitamins present which means that the potato is now less nutritious, too.

Nothing better than a freshly dug potato. Standret/

Having said that, when stuck for something to eat, I have knocked small shoots off potatoes and peeled off any green bits many a time. I just wouldn’t eat any with extensive shoot growth and dark green patches. Instead, these can be planted out to grow a new batch of potatoes.

They won’t be certified virus-free like a bought “seed” potato, but they should provide you with a small bounty later on. In winter, they will also need a frost-free environment to grow. And if you have no space to grow them and really hate waste then remove the shoots and green skin, boil them and chop them up and feed them to the birds. They’ll be delighted.

Photo: Alexey_M (iStock) Burning QuestionsBurning QuestionsBurning Questions is The Takeout’s Q&A feature that satiates your food and drink curiosities

This time of year, you may bring a bag of potatoes home from the grocery store only to find them sprouting a day or two later. What gives?

Just like humans, those potatoes are ready to get into spring mode after a long winter indoors. Most potatoes that you’ll buy in stores now were harvested last fall and stored at about 40 degrees, according to Mike Wenkel, executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission. Once they’re exposed to light and warmer temperatures in a grocery store, the potatoes go into spring growing mode. The ideal temperature to sprout potatoes is about 70 degrees—pretty close to room temperature in most grocery stores and homes.

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“This time of year, it’s going to be really hard to stop that,” he says. “Depending on how severely they’ve sprouted, the potato is converted sugars to starches and trying to build that plant, so it’s pulling energy out of the tuber to do that. But there’s nothing wrong with it from a standpoint of eating it.”

He and other experts including Potatoes USA recommend cutting away the sprouted eyes, and preparing the potato as normal.

“Yes, they’re still safe to eat as long as you pull off the sprouts or the eyes. As long as the potato is still nice and firm, then it’s still pretty good. When it starts to shrivel, the texture gets a little funky, at that point it depends on whether you want to use it or not,” says Kendra Keenan, assistant marketing manager for Potatoes USA.

Depending on the dish you’re preparing, you may need to reach for a crisper potato. Also, resist the urge to refrigerate potatoes: That cold of temperature can cause the tuber to convert its starches to sugars, resulting in a strangely sweet potato.

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Another spring phenomenon you might notice is a slight greening of the potato’s skin. That’s caused by the production of chlorophyll, similar to the process that happens in any plant when it’s exposed to the sun.

“Basically it’s the plant photosynthesizing,” Wenkel says. “You could cut that green skin away as well. If you eat it, it’s going to be very bitter.”

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Greening potatoes produce not just chlorophyll but also solanine, which is a known toxin. You’d have to eat quite a bit of green potato to get sick—about a fully green baked potato, according to The New York Times Science Desk—but if that potato isn’t going to taste great anyway, why risk it?

Bottom line: Sprouted potatoes are fine as long as you’ve cut the sprouts off and made sure they’re not too mushy. For green potatoes, cut off any small discolored areas. If they’re fully green, you may as well go buy a fresh bushel.

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It’s time to encourage seed potatoes to sprout

We Irish have a special grá for potatoes and many feel spuds are quintessentially an ‘Irish thing’, despite the fact that they were introduced here from South America, says Kitty Scully.

Surprisingly, China is the world’s largest potato producer.

After rice, wheat and maize, potatoes are the number one staple crop in the world. Being one of the most versatile of all vegetables, prevalent to every culture and available all year round, potatoes could potentially pop up at breakfast, brunch, supper, dinner or any given snack time.

As a nation of potato pundits, we are all well accustomed to boiling, baking, roasting, mashing, frying and eating them. Planting, earthing-up and picking is also simple spud speak. But what about chitting potatoes?

Well, one of the first jobs of the vegetable growing season is to chit early potatoes. Chitting simply means encouraging or forcing seed potatoes (tubers), to sprout before planting.

It involves putting seed potatoes somewhere light, cool, but frost-free for several weeks while they form short, sturdy shoots. Be warned that those long, spindly white shoots that spuds put out when abandoned in the back of a dark cupboard, do not constitute chitting.

Firstly, you may ask, why on earth would one bother? Well chitting basically gets potato plants growing earlier which in turn encourages them to produce earlier and sequentially allows homegrowers to harvest earlier and potato lovers to gorge earlier.

After a long winter existing on stored main crop potatoes, the taste of the first early new spuds of the season, with their thin skins and deliciously waxy texture, is eargerly anticipated.

Earlier cropping has the added bonus of getting your first earlies in and out of the ground before the dreaded potato blight becomes a potential problem.

Combined with early planting and protected cropping such as in a polytunnel, glasshouse or cloche, chitting seed potatoes may result in potato harvests, nearly six weeks earlier than usual. There generally is no great advantage to chitting main crop potatoes.

Most good garden centres sell certified seed potatoes and early potatoes should be in stock now. Start chitting from late January or early February.

St Patricks Day is the traditional day for planting first early potatoes outside in Ireland and it is generally advised to start about six weeks before you intend to plant.

Since early spuds come in to shops well in advance, chitting can just be a useful way of keeping them in good condition until the soil warms up.

You will notice that each seed tuber has a more rounded, blunt end known as the ‘rose’ end, containing a number of ‘eyes’.

It is from these ‘eyes’ that shoots develop. Stand the tubers upright with the ‘rose’ end facing up. If you have a greenhouse or a sunny porch or window, this is an ideal location.

Light is very important so don’t shove your chitting spuds off to the back of a dark cold shed. If you only have a few tubers, line them up in old egg cartons but if you are sprouting lots, place them in shallow, open, slatted-bottomed boxes and use folded newspaper or cardboard to create sections and slots to keep the tubers upright. Be sure to cover with a fleece if heavy frost is forecast.

Desired shoots will be strong, short and greenish-purple in colour, unlike the familiar leggy white shoots from a dark cupboard. They should be about ¾ inch to1inch long, from the eyes of each tuber.

To increase the size of your potatoes, rub off all but three or four shoots at the top of the tuber before planting out to encourage large tubers to be harvested early. If you leave all the shoots intact, there is too much competition and you will end up with lots of small potatoes.

Ensure to plant seed potatoes in the ground with the sprouts facing up and be careful not to break the sprouts off while handling.

Like many subjects, chitting potatoes can be a controversial one among gardeners and those of the ‘just bung them in the ground’ school of thought may argue that sprouted potatoes, already in growth, are much more vulnerable to late-Spring frost damage and may have their growth set back by inappropriate soil conditions.

It is certainly true that your spuds will grow, chitted or not. Why not make up your own mind by sprouting some of your first early spuds, leave the others to fend for themselves and compare the difference in date and size of yields.

If you would like to order organic, early seed potatoes online, check out www.fruithillfarm.com . Varieties to chose from include Sharpes Express, Orla and Colleen.

How to grow: chitting and forcing potatoes

As well as planting several lines of ‘Maris Piper’ in the garden, I’m going to force some – small like this – for July eating, as well as two other early varieties for harvesting in May and early June before the outdoor grown crop is ready.

Forcing potatoes

To force potatoes for harvesting in May and June, plant two tubers in inside-out compost bags in the greenhouse now, without bothering to chit. Inside out, the bags are black and absorb heat. The quickest of all forcing varieties is ‘Swift’, which will be ready to eat in May. It’s OK, but ‘International Kidney’ and ‘Belle de Fontenay’ have better texture and flavour.

Roll down the sides of the compost bags to about half their height, make a few holes in the bottom for drainage and fill the bag to about 12in. Use one third molehills if you have them – they give you lovely crumbly loam as the moles have done the hard work for you.

They create delicious, friable grass-free soil from a depth usually below the worst of the weed seed. Alternatively, use a soil-based compost such as John Innes No 2 and two thirds compost. Avoid using mushroom compost for potatoes as the lime in it promotes scab. Put two tubers per bag and bury them in the 12in of soil/compost mix, then backfill another 6in or so on top. Water them in well and if you can, put your sacks somewhere bright, frost-free and fairly warm.

If I have room, they go on my huge heated propagator bench to give them a good start. Within three weeks or so, they will have begun to shoot. Keep the compost damp, but not sopping wet. Once the shoots are about 6in, roll up the edges of the bag a few turns and fill up to that level with more soil/compost mix. Carry on earthing them up – bit by bit every couple of weeks – until they reach nearly the top of the bag. Then allow the shoots to come up to flower -which should be in May – and you can start to harvest.

If you have lots of people coming to dinner, turn out one whole bag at a time, but new potatoes are always at their tastiest and sweetest if they are freshly harvested. For just a couple of you, cut a hole in the corner of a bag and then put your hands up into the compost and harvest the number you want for that meal. Water them after your harvest and leave the haulms to grow on until next time.

For more potato varieties, visit the Telegraph Gardenshop.

Can you still use sprouted potatoes? Yes – when you open a bag of potatoes and find they have all sprouted, use one – or more – of these ideas so that they don’t go to waste.

I’m so glad you’re here! Besides tips on using sprouted potatoes, AOC is a place where you’ll find easy, real food recipes, tips to be smart in the kitchen, and using up what we have. See more potato recipes here and more kitchen tips here.

When I found 5-pound bags of organic potatoes on sale for .99 each I, of course, had to buy two. However, since organic potatoes are not sprayed with a sprout inhibitor, I was faced with about seven pounds of sprouting potatoes only a week later.

You know I try very hard not to throw food away, and yet I don’t want to eat potatoes for the next week, either. I think I’m not the only person ever faced with this problem, right?

I did a little research and came up with a number of ways to use these potatoes before they become shriveled and inedible, which I thought I’d share with you (and not because I’ve always wanted to have a picture of sprouted potatoes on my blog, ha!).

But first, a little Q&A:

Why do potatoes sprout?

It’s how they grow. When planted in the ground, the sprouts will grow up through the soil, becomeing green foliage and the tuber will feed the new plant. As it grows, the original tuber will shrink and become mushy or non-existent, but there will be a lot of new tubers growing all around it from the new plant. It’s the plant’s life cycle.

Like I mentioned, conventionally grown potatoes have been sprayed with a growth-inhibitor and it’s why you can have a 10-pound bag for longer in your pantry without sprouting. Organics don’t do this, so you have to use them up sooner.

Are sprouted potatoes safe to eat?

Yes, as long as they’re still firm to the touch. Just cut out the sprouts and eyes and proceed with your recipe.

Is there a point they’re NOT safe to eat?

Not really unsafe, but if they are really wrinkled and shriveled, the starch as turned to sugar (in preparation to feed the plant that is sprouting) and the nutrient value is pretty much gone. At that point, they’re only good for the garden or the compost pile, really.

Can I do anything to keep them from sprouting in the future?

Storing them in a cool, dark, place will go a long way to keeping them from sprouting as fast. Also, store them away from onions (I know we always see these two stored together, but the onions will make the potatoes sprout faster!).

One more thing:

Oh, and if your potatoes have a green cast to the skin, they’ve been exposed to too much light. This green is considered a toxin (potatoes are in the nightshade family), so you should always peel off any green areas of any potato.

So grab your potatoes and choose one or more of these ideas – after you’ve washed them and cut off all the sprouts, that is (by the way, these ideas all work for non-sprouted potatoes, too, except for the last idea – then you’d actually want to wait until they’ve sprouted!).

7 Things To Do With Sprouted Potatoes

1) Make Twice Baked Potatoes and freeze for later.

To freeze: after stuffing, but before the second baking, lay them on a cookie sheet and freeze completely; transfer to freezer, removing as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and bake as normal. I’ve done this many times and it’s such a treat to have twice-baked potatoes in the freezer!

2) Bake, grate, and freeze as Freezer Hash Browns.

I love this so much – I’ve just done without hash browns for years because I didn’t want all the extra ingredients that come with store-bought. My family is really enjoying these again and it’s very convenient.

3) Bake, cut, and freeze for Freezer Home Fries.

This is a variation of the grated recipe in #2, except you just chop the potatoes to freeze and when you’re ready to eat, just cook them with butter, onions, and peppers.

4) Boil and make mashed potatoes – eat now or freeze for later.

To freeze mashed potatoes: divide the mixture into meal-sized portions into pans, dot with butter, wrap in foil and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw the pan overnight and heat in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until warmed through.

5) Add some of the potatoes to a slow cooker and make Baked Potato Soup for dinner.

Bonus: the leftovers of this soup can be frozen, too!

6) Make these awesome looking Egg-Stuffed Baked Potatoes for breakfast.

Just save a few of the baked potatoes from either of the baked recipes above for tomorrow’s breakfast.

7) Of course, if it’s potato planting time where you live, you can plant them.

Plant them in the ground or in a tall container (even a clean garbage can) where they’ll get a lot of sun. You actually want to sprout your potatoes before planting, so you’re half way there! (f you haven’t grown potatoes before, make sure to check out my easy potato planting method.

What are your favorite ways to use sprouted potatoes?

Here are a few more recipes that use potatoes:

Easy Baked Potato Fans

Easy Slow Cooker Garlic Scallop Potatoes

Cajun Beef on Spiced Potatoes

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Starting Taters Indoors

just asking for it

I never would have thought of starting taters indoors- until I saw it mentioned on Facebook.
Seriously, growing them is so easy, why bother?

start the plants, eat the leftovers

His response, and his method- soon to be dubbed “The Gilbert Hodges Method” in our Facebook Group Gardenaholics Anonymous, were simple-
To eat fresh Taters weeks or even months earlier.
Sounds like a plan!

cut into sections

I had some spuds starting to sprout, so decided to try this method, and have lunch at the same time.
I cut them into sections that each had an eye with growth, and placed in a damp paper towel and put that inside a plastic bag.

start in a damp towel

Just for good measure, and because I love to experiment, I started some in a sectional tray with a small amount of water.
Both were placed under the grow light.

or just start in a tray of water

I think both methods worked well; the tray took a little more effort to keep the taters moist, but these were also easier to watch.

after just 24 hours

a closer view

isn’t nature gorgeous

You do want to keep an ‘eye’ out for mold.
I had 18 taters in each tray, and lost 3 from each to rot.
The rest took hold and grew fast.

after one more day

peeking at progress

Actually, too fast.
I transferred them all, when they had good root growth, to containers of potting soil.

transfer to pots when needed

I started mine too soon, as it turned out- more on that in another post.
I would suggest waiting until you are about 4-6 weeks away from planting outdoors.
That will still mean some good early taters…mmmm!

More on Growing Taters
Gardenaholics Anonymous
Potato-Onion Bread

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How to Grow Potatoes Indoors

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Can you grow potatoes indoors? Well in a word – YES! Read on to discover how to grow potatoes indoors- it’s not as difficult as you might think!

Everyone waits with bated breath as the months draw away from winter and towards the coming spring.

We all want to get out there and plant our gardens, getting our hands dirty again.

There really isn’t a need to wait throughout the whole winter, though, as many things can be planted indoors with just as much success.

The only practices that commonly change for indoor fruits or vegetables is that they will need to be watered more frequently and the location will need to be chosen carefully to ensure good sunlight.

This article gives a process and ideas for how to grow potatoes indoors, anytime of the year.

Preparing seed potatoes

The preparation of seed potatoes for indoor planting is almost the same as the prep for outdoor planting.

Start with a package of seed potatoes that have been certified, in other words, don’t go and buy a bag of potatoes from the supermarket as this can mean any number of diseases may be present.

It is a good idea to chit potatoes that will be planted indoors as indoor planting can set them behind but chitting will help them to keep up.

Chitting just means placing the whole potato in the best location to encourage sprouts to begin to grow from the eyes of the potato.

A good place to set them will be in a dry area, in the sun, but still cool.

Seed potatoes will sprout after a while even in dark areas, but these sprouts will be fragile and unused to sunlight.

Once the new sprouts have grown to about .5-1 inches (1.5-2.5 cm) they are ready to plant. This may take a several weeks.

I then take a clean, sharp knife and cut any very large potatoes into chunks of about 2 square inches, each with several sprouts.

Be very careful not to damage the new sprouts, as this will set them back.

Soil and container choice

While I wait for the new potatoes to sprout, I will spend my time getting the other items ready, so when the potatoes are ready, so am I.

Part of this will involve soil preparation, slightly more important for indoor plants than for outdoor plants.

Another important factor to consider is what container the potato will be planted in. Potatoes don’t need anything fancy; they can be planted in a plastic bin, a garden pot or a plastic or cloth sac.

However, whatever they are in, they will need to have at least two and a half gallons of growing space, as they have their biggest growth underground.

Also be sure that the container has good drainage, using a drill to make holes in the bottom for water to freely flow out once it gets to the bottom of the container.

Once an appropriately sized container is found, a good location needs to be found for it. My suggestion is to do this before the soil is put into the pot as it will be easier to move around.

Place potatoes in sunlight/ daylight

Just as if they were planted outside, I need to put them in a place that will get full or partial sun, about 6-10 hours during the day.

Then, fill the pots. It is often best to start several bottom inches with very gritty soil or small stones, since this will help with drainage.

I am always sure to find a soil mix to top it off that will remain lose in the pot, not quickly compacting, as well as one that drains well.

It is also important to not have a very alkaline soil as potatoes will take up nutrients more efficiently with slightly acidic soil. Adding Sulphur may help offset this problem.

This is only a bigger worry if the soil that is being used is from a yard or garden and not bought from a bag.

This allows the tuber to receive and soak up the water without sitting in it and the loose soil is important for tuber growth.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not fill the containers up to the rim as more soil will need to be added to form the mound and protect the potatoes from seeing the sun.

Planting the seed potatoes

Now that everything is ready to go and my potatoes have sprouted and been cut up, I will get ready to put them into their containers.

How many chunks of sprouted potato in each container will depend on the size of the container.

I make sure to plant my potatoes at least 6 inches (15 cm) apart with the sprouts facing up, about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) deep.

Don’t plant the potatoes too close to the sides of the container as this will limit the tubers from growing.

Watering your potatoes

Although good drainage is important for the potatoes, it is also important to keep potatoes well-watered.

I always be sure to check and make sure the soil isn’t drying out and generally water it again every three to seven days.

The soil should not ever be soggy, but also moist, like a well wrung-out sponge at the top.

Watering can stop once the top of the plants begin to die back.

This means that the tubers are reaching full maturity and already have everything they need to finish the process.

Fertilizing your potatoes

Fertilizing potatoes only needs to happen once, about two weeks after planting them.

Since they are indoors in smaller containers with less opportunity for run-off, it is generally a good idea to dilute the potato fertilizer mixture a bit more than recommended.

The best fertilizer options to consider are ones that are higher in their potassium and phosphate levels than in their nitrogen levels.

Hilling potatoes

Just as must be done outdoors, it is very important to hill potatoes as they grow to protect them from seeing the sun.

This is why I also be sure to fill my pots with at least one-third of the container left so that I have plenty of space to create my mounds.

Once the sprouts reach six to eight inches high, begin to mound the soil, covering them up towards the last several inches.

Continue to do this each time the plant grows another six inches above the soil line until the plant begins to get yellow on the top.

Harvesting potatoes

As the plants begin to yellow, I get ready to begin harvesting.

It is a good idea to try and check with your hands how full the container is and if there is enough room, go ahead and let the plant fully die off on top to get the maximum growth of the spuds.

If there is not a lot of space, I will go ahead and harvest, as they won’t grow much more without getting in each other’s way anyway.

Pull the plant, gently, from the container by the part of the stem closest to the soil.

Then, begin to dig, taking care if using a spade or shovel, and digging out all of the tubers that have grown into the mound and below it.

Finally, congratulations! Get ready to enjoy the fruits, or potatoes, of your indoor labor!

Further reading: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/vegetables/potatoes

Sprouting Seed Potatoes – Learn More About Chitting Potatoes

Do you wish you could get your potatoes harvested a little earlier? If you try chitting potatoes, or sprouting seed potatoes, before you plant them, you can harvest your potatoes up to three weeks sooner. Sprouting potatoes before planting can also help you if you have trouble getting your potatoes to reach maturity in your area. Below you will find the steps for how to sprout potatoes before you plant them in the ground.

What Do Potatoes Need to Sprout?

Potatoes are a little like seedlings in that they need light to grow. But, unlike seedlings, they do not need a growing medium like soil to sprout. All you will need for sprouting seed potatoes is the seed potatoes and a bright window or a fluorescent lamp.

Steps for How to Sprout a Potato Before You Plant It

You will start sprouting potatoes three to four weeks before you will be able to plant your potatoes out in the garden.

Buy your seed potatoes from a reputable seed seller. While you can sprout potatoes that are from the grocery store, the grocery store may have diseases that will kill the plant. It’s best to grow seed potatoes that have been treated to prevent these diseases.

The next step in sprouting or chitting potatoes is to place the potatoes in a bright location. A sunny window or under a fluorescent lamp are excellent choices for this.

In order to keep the sprouting seed potatoes from rolling around, some people place the potatoes in an open egg carton. This will keep the potatoes stable and still so that their fragile sprouts do not get broken.

In about a week, you should see signs that the potatoes are sprouting. After three to four weeks, you can plant the fully sprouted potatoes into the garden in the same way you would plant unsprouted potatoes. Just make sure that you plant the seed potatoes with the sprouts facing up and be careful not to break the sprouts.

Now that you know how to sprout a potato, you can enjoy your potato harvest a little earlier this year. Sprouting potatoes early, also known as chitting potatoes, can be useful in the garden.

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