If often you find potatoes in your cupboard sprouting little green or white shoots, you probably wonder: “Can you plant sprouted potatoes?’
The answer is yes although it might not be the best way to grow large potatoes to be proud of. In today’s article, we will teach you how to plant sprouted potatoes in detail.
Read on to find out more about growing sprouted potatoes and all about the proper growing conditions for potatoes generally.
Step-by-step guide: How do you plant sprouting potatoes?
Potatoes are famous for “clearing” the ground on a neglected garden patch. Growing potatoes helps to send roots down deep in order to produce potato tubers. See how to do it below.
Step 1: Soil is a really important factor
These are hungry plants so a layer of dug-in manure is excellent if you can access it. If not, use compost and dig the ground to remove large stones so that these do not affect the shape of your growing crop.
Step 2: Plant the sprouted potato
Next, place your sprouting tuber in a hole in the soil. Plant it 6-9 inches down and ensure that the green part is pointing upwards. These shoots will become the leaves. The white shoot will grow downwards to produce the potato tubers. See more about the best times to plant below.
Step 3: Watering needs to be regular, particularly if the weather is dry
If the leaves are wilting in hot weather, give the plant a good watering early in the morning or early evening, when most of the moisture is retained.
Water is essential for potatoes of a good size so keep your watering can handy, especially when potatoes are forming.
Step 4: Covering up potatoes
Potatoes start to grow very fast, so you need to check them almost every day. If any of them are showing above ground, it is essential to cover them with soil. Potato skins left exposed to light turn green and are poisonous.
Step 5: When are my potatoes ready to pick?
It depends on the type of potato – there are 3 types: earlies, second earlies, and main crop.
You will probably know the name of the potato from the labeling on the packaging when you bought it.
Typically, you can expect to pick your potatoes after 13-15 weeks of growth. A sure sign is after the plant has flowered and then died back. This is usually a sign that the crop is ready to harvest.
Step 6: Keep picking!
If you want to pick some potatoes early, then gently dig in the soil until you find some.
Pick a few but leave the green foliage intact so your plant can continue to develop. If your plants are in a grow bag, this is a great way to extend the life cycle of your cop.
Types of potatoes
Potatoes can be harvested from June through to November depending on the type of potato and when frost hits your area. They are divided into 3 main groups by potato tuber sellers:
First earlies, as the name suggests, are the first potatoes to be ready. They are best eaten fresh when ready and not stored.
When you think of yellow-skinned Jersey Royal potatoes or new potatoes, these are the tubers that are planted first, then picked as the first days of June arrive.
Delicious boiled and served with butter with some chopped parsley or mint. Other favorites are Maris Bard and Pentland Javelin potatoes.
Second earlies, follow on after first earlies. These are planted in April to lift in July or August. These will store for a few months but not as well as the main crop potatoes below. Examples are Nadine, Wilja, Maris Peer, Estima, and many more varieties.
Maincrop potatoes are the ones stored for winter use. These are the ones you will find on shelves when shopping.
Desiree, a pink-skinned variety, is a favorite with growers. Cara gives lots of potatoes and amazing baked potatoes while Pink Fir Apple with its long crinkly-shaped tubers offers an unusual variety.
10 Tips for Growing Potatoes
If you decide to grow potatoes, the following tips can help you do a good job and grow potatoes the right way.
1. Avoid frost
Potatoes do not like frost and foliage will shrivel and become damaged if you plant outside too early.
The best time to plant is from late March onwards for early potatoes in frost-free conditions and after frost risk has passed in your growing zone.
2. Make use of the space!
Potatoes take a long time in the soil and you can intercrop another fast-growing crop in between rows of potatoes. Crops like lettuce, cut and come again salads, mustard, cress, and parsley all grow really well with potatoes.
3. Make sure you lift all tubers at harvest time!
You can often overlook a tiny potato, which will continue to grow the following year.
In order to avoid diseases such as potato blight, it is essential not to grow potatoes in the same area or pot, year on year so carefully check the soil and remove any tiny ones you discover.
If one does grow in spring the following year, dig it up and transplant it to a new area to grow.
4. What do I plant after potatoes?
After your potatoes are finished, next you can plant peas or beans if you are keeping to a crop rotation plan.
5. How long should potato sprouts be before planting?
This really doesn’t matter too much. If the tuber has started to sprout in your home, then it is showing you how keen it is to grow.
Make sure you put the green shoot pointing upwards and the whiter root stems pointing downwards! The potatoes will form underneath the mother potato. Read on to learn about covering up potatoes as they appear in earthing up and why you must do this.
6. Can I grow potatoes from store-bought potatoes?
Yes, it is possible although it is not necessarily something that I would recommend. It’s fine if it is your first experiment and you have a sprouting tuber.
My reasoning is that expert potato tuber sellers have bred potatoes for many years to be free of some of the most common diseases and also to offer some resistance to the zillions of pests that attack potatoes.
You are not sure of the provenance of your store-bought potato but go ahead and plant it. If you continue to grow potatoes, I advise buying tubers from a reputable supplier to ensure a healthy harvest of disease-free potatoes.
7. Do you remove sprouts from potatoes before planting?
The sprouts are the growing tips and roots of the new plant, so definitely not!
The slightly green tips show that these will become the leaves and if planted, these will grow expansive green leafy foliage, which supports the growth of tasty potatoes underground.
8. Earthing up
Literally, this is covering the newly formed potatoes with earth, when they start to show at soil level.
Potato skins which are exposed to sunlight turn green and these are poisonous!
Do not eat green potatoes. You can cut off the green part and compost it. Carefully add a layer of soil on top of the potato. In allotments and on farms, you will see experienced gardeners digging a row for potatoes, then leaving a whole line of excavated earth, when they dig the patch first.
This makes a ready supply of earth to cover up their growing spuds in the months to come.
Potatoes are a staple ingredient of cuisine all over the world! Boiled with butter or cheese, fried, roasted, sautéed, mashed, made into leek and potato soup, chopped into a Spanish tortilla – the choice is yours!
10. Storing your potatoes
Maincrop potatoes keep well if you dry them out after harvesting, and then place them in a box or sack in darkness. An under the stairs, dark, cool cupboard or garden shed is perfect.