potato question

diggerdeeMarch 3, 2008


This is my first time posting here. I just found a paper bag full of potatoes I had forgotten about! (Not too thrilled either, since these were high-priced, delicious organic potatoes from a local farm which I didn't get to eat, lol!) They are from last November, and are obviously not edible now.

Anyway, most of them have sprouts at least an inch and a half high, and the growth looks quite green and healthy.

I've never grown a potato in my life, but was thinking of trying, and this seems to be a good opportunity. :)

But, I have a thin layer of snow on the ground and I'm assuming it's way too early to plant. Is there any way I can use these potatoes now - some kind of indoor planting perhaps, or a way to delay any further growth and yet keep them viable? Should I leave them as they were and let them continue to do their thing? Or should they just go in the compost (where they just might grow anyway?!)

Thanks for any help!



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I know Connecticut has several different growing zones, depending upon elevation and proximity to Long Island Sound, but I would think your last frost date is probably sometime around late April or the 1st of May, as an average. You can generally safely plant potatoes outdoors about 3 weeks before the last frost, so probably by about the 2nd week in April in your area.

So, you really only have about a month to go, maybe a little more. In the meantime, you can slow them down a bit by removing the sprouts. They'll take a few weeks to grow new ones.

I don't see any reason why they wouldn't keep long enough to plant, unless they rot.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:18AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


I'd never grown potatoes until last year, and the reason I grew them was exactly the situation you find yourself in. A neglected bag of leftover baking potatoes in the pantry had sprouted, so I ended up planting them and they grew and produced potatoes. The difference is that I didn't find them until later in the spring than it is now.

Most people will recommend that you buy potato tubers instead of planting those you purchase for food because they're certified to be disease-free, while those you buy CAN have diseases that mess up any new ones grown from them. Others say the bought potatoes produce just fine with no disease problems. So it's up to you. If they aren't beginning to rot and you have room for them, I'd just save them and plant them out next month if they last that long. You'll at least learn how potatoes grow, what the plants look like, how to treat them, and reap a few potatoes, too.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:22AM
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Wow, I wasn't expecting answers so quickly! Thank you both!

Anney, I had heard/read similar concerns that you mention, but these were bought from a local, certified-organic farm, and I know the farmer and actually work there sometimes too, so I am not too worried about diseases, etc.

Yikes, denninmi, do I really have to cut off the sprouts, lol? I'm not good at that kind of thing, lol! Pruning, pinching, cutting back, etc. I guess I'll have to be ruthless, though! :)

Okay, I think I will cut back the sprouts, close the bag back up and leave it where it was for another month or so. I'm fairly close to Long Island Sound, but at a rather high elevation, so I'll check my last frost date and plant accordingly.

Thank you both for your quick answers and your help. Much appreciated!


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:33AM
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grandad_2003(9A/sunset 28)

We plant potatoes in South Louisiana from middle of January to end of February. But, if I had found plantable potatoes in the state that you described, and if I had intended to plant potatoes, then I'd let them continue to do their thing in hopes that they'd be OK to set out when the time comes.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 11:09AM
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If the ground isn't frozen, you can go ahead and plant. In fact, they store much better in the ground. Just so long as there isn't a stretch of severe cold that would freeze the ground solid to six inches or so (and if such a stretch is fore-casted you can throw some boards or leaves over the rows). They won't do anything until the ground is sufficiently warm, in any case.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:20PM
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gardenlen(s/e qld aust)

g'day dee,

for me the more development on the sprouts the better keep them in a dry cool dark place until you need them for planting if that is only a month away that is great?

i stand mine in egg cartons so the shoots develop nicely and it keeps each spud seperate so no rotting occurs, saw a doco' once on the spud growers of the jersey islands near england they keep their seed potatoes in similar to waht i ahve said so they get good groth before planting they say it give them a faster production after planting.

can't see any benefit in breaking off good growth.


Here is a link that might be useful: len's potato's

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 2:34PM
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Hi again,

Thanks for the further replies. I think I am going to try growing these using a box or bin and building up, instead of digging a trench, so maybe I'd better wait a few weeks yet before putting them outside. And I like the egg carton idea!

Thank you all again!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 2:46PM
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anney(Georgia 8)

There are several ways to grow potatoes, and I'll mention plastic bags. I'm going to do this with my second batch. I planted the first batch in 5 gallon buckets with a large hole in the bottoms, though I don't expect to get a lot of potatoes from them because there isn't much space for them to grow upward. The black plastic gives a lot more vertical (and horizontal!) room to the plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing potatoes in plastic garbage bags

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 4:00PM
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Anney, that is awesome! Even better and easier than the boxes. I was started to sweat over attempting to build even something as simple as that with my non-existent carpentry skills, lol.

I think its bags for me and my taters.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 9:50PM
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mkirkwag(Puget Sound)

I toss mine into an otherwise useless compost bin (the earth machine). I just toss them in there any time of year, and come summer, I have potatoes. Probably not achieving optimal harvest, but it works. I leave the lid on - to the degree that it goes on - until it gets warm. I don't even water them.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 9:40PM
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