When we see the first signs of spring we all get excited to start seed.…
I think we have all found a loose potato now and then that ended up in the back of the pantry. Often they are sprouting. The question is are they still useful? Can I grow potatoes from the supermarket? The answer is yes!
What kind of potatoes from the supermarket will grow?
You can grow any kind of potatoes from the supermarket. The University of Wisconsin published an article confirming that you can grow potatoes from the supermarket. It goes on to say that there is no difference between garden store seed potatoes and supermarket potatoes.
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Organic potatoes are always a great choice however you can grow any kind. You should not wash the potatoes if they are organic. Water can quicken the rot on potatoes.
Often producers will spray non-organic vegetables with growth inhibitors. If you are concerned that your potatoes have growth inhibitors, you can wash the potato. Dry the potato completely to prove that rot.
Using sulfur to grow potatoes from the supermarket
If your potatoes are large, you should cut them into small pieces.
Make sure that each piece has at least 2 eyes.
Dust the pieces with sulfur to help stop rot from developing. If you washed the potatoes, alway dust with sulfur even if you did not cut them into pieces.
Smaller potatoes don’t need to be cut.
If you are planting potatoes that have sprouted on their own, don’t bother with the sulfur dusting. You want to be careful not to damage the new growth.
It is a good practice to dust the hole in the soil with a tablespoon of sulfur before planting.
Can you grow potatoes in a container?
I have always grown potatoes in containers ever when planting outside. There are lots of videos on how to plant in homemade wire cages. Many people, including myself, swear by this method.
Surprisingly the University of California did a side by side study of raised bed vs container yields and found that the yields in containers were significantly lower than ground planting.
Although I could find no other side by side studies I did find many articles from universities and well-known experts that say container potatoes do very well.
How to grow in a container
Potatoes are somewhat unique in how they grow. They don’t grow down into the soil as much as they actually grow up! When you are choosing a pot or container for indoor or patio potatoes make sure;
- It is at least 12 ” deep
- At least 12″ wide
The best container has the ability to be extended up as the plant grows. Wrapping chicken wire as a kind of potato cage is a good solution. Some gardeners use trash barrels or tall laundry baskets. The taller the container the bigger the harvest can be.
Hilling or mounding more soil around the potato plants as they grow will greatly increase the yields. Potatoes will develop underground along the main stem of the plant. The more of the main stem that is buried the more possibilities of additional potatoes.
Plant your seed potatoes about 10″ from the bottom of the container. As the potato grows add soil or some other material such as straw. Ideally, you want to keep adding material as the plant grows allowing about 6″ of the plant to remain above the soil and bury the rest.
What to do as they grow?
As your potatoes grow you need to keep the plants covered by hilling them.
Meaning that back fill you container with compost, potting or straw always leaving about 2″ above the soil. The potatoes will form along the main stem as the plant grows.
What type of soil do you need to grow potatoes?
Potatoes like a rich, very loose soil with a PH level in the 6.0 range. The sulfur that you dusted the seeds potatoes with and put in the original hole will help keep the PH on the low side.
Since potatoes are root vegetables they need room to stretch out and grow. The looser and airier the soil the easier it will be for the plant to form large tubers.
Start with a nice rich mixture. As your plant grows, add alternating layers of straw and rich soil. The straw will be a good place for the tubers to grow. Watering will disperse the nutrients from the soil through the container.
For more about potting soil please read organic vs non organic potting soil
How long does it take to grow potatoes in a container?
Potatoes will be ready for harvest in about 10 weeks.
The longer you let the plant grow the larger the harvest will be.
Potato plants will start to die as it comes to the end of the growing period. The plant will stop producing new leaves and begin to wilt. This is the time harvest.
What to do after you harvest your potatoes
There are things that you need to do to ensure that your potatoes will last for months.
- Don’t wash the dirt off. Just brush off loose dirt.
- Spread them out so that they are not touching each other
- Let them air dry in a cool dark place.
Once they are completely dry store them
- In a cool place, the temperature at about 50 degrees is best
- Keep them in the dark.
- Put in a well-ventilated container like a wicker basket or container with vent holes
- Take out any potatoes that are cut or damaged. Use these first
- Use smaller potatoes before a larger one because larger ones can store longer
So if you can’t get potatoes at the nursery don’t worry. You can grow potatoes from the supermarket.
And the bonus is that potatoes from the supermarket are available all year so you can always start your container garden.