I'm a beginner at all this (well i have some strawberry plants that are
still alive from last summer) and am looking to start growing some
potatoes as I've a feeling it's a bit late in the year to start many
I was told that I could grow them from unused potatoes that had started
sprouting and to cut them in half and plant them like that; however I've
since heard that I should only use proper potato tubers.
Could anybody let me know if I am able to just plant an ordinary
potato.. and what the difference is between the 2?
Sorry for the (most probably) basic level question.. I am very new to
gardening/vegetable growing so am just finding my feet. x
You didn't say where you're located but from the email address it looks like
you're in the U.K. I'm pretty sure that it's too late for planting potatoes
in the Northern Hemisphere but here's a website that gives the basics:
For more information, just google "how to grow potatoes" and you'll get
thousands of websites on the subject.
At this time of year, you can still plant new potatoes which should be
ready for cropping from late Autumn until after Christmas.
Your local garden centre may have suitable varieties. Otherwise take a
look at say, www.dobies.co.uk , for seed potatoes that you can plant now.
Try trash can potatoes:
We have a few barrels/types of them around the yard, just old potatoes, cut
up, keep them covered and don't eat green.
I don't know about the UK, but in the states, some producers treat
with a sprout inhibitor that may make it difficult to sprout them, so
make sure you have actual sprouts first. The only thing to do is try
and see what happens. That's what gardening is all about. Cut it
into pieces with 3 or 4 viable eyes on it, plant it and see.
As someone else said, though, it's best to start with certified virus
free seed potatoes, but there really isn't anything different about
them, other than the testing and possibly the sprouting inhibitor.
Gardening means you could try some wonderful varieties that aren't
available in the stores. If you want ordinary tasteless tubers that
were selected for appearance and shipping reasons, grow the store
ones, But if you're looking for flavour, try some fingerlings, or
an heirloom red or purple, or any of the other wonderful old world
varieties.. Yummy, and you can save your own seed stock for next
For real flavour and real nutrition, grow sweet
potatoes. Other potatoes are almost totally
starch, which is basically a sugar and becomes
that when you chew the cooked potatoes. Of course,
success with the growing depends on where you live.
I have used regular Russet potatoes to grow lots for my home. I
learned by accident. My wife told me to throw out the sprouted
potatoes in the trash but instead I put them into my compost pile. The
green plants grew out and I recognized them as potatoes so I left them
alone and just watered them. When the tops died down, I dug lots of
potatoes and my wife could not believe it. I'm about to do it again.
Give it a try. It won't cost much to try. Jim in So. Calif.
Hello Claire. As others have said, it is advisable to plant seed
potatoes that are certified virus free.
However, if you plant a store-bought spud that has developed shoots
it will grow and usually do very well. I recommend that you do not
cut the potato into a few pieces, they are very prone to rotting
if you do this and by the time you realise you have to replant you
have lost some of your valuable growing season. You can plant the
seed potatoes even before frosts finish, just make sure you cover
them with 12" of loose straw to protect the shoots from frost. Even
if they do get nipped, they will immediately reshoot.
Homegrown potatoes are an ideal crop for new gardeners. They produce
results out of all proportion to the effort expended, and have a
flavour totally different from the bland supermarket potatoes. If
you see the leaves being eaten by ladybirds pick them off and
squash them underfoot. While some ladybirds are helpful, there is
a species that eats the leaves of potatoes and pumpkins.
When you see tiny green fruit developing among the leaves, don't get
excited. They are not crossbreeding with tomatoes! That's the small
potato fruit, and you definitely do not eat the fruit. Only eat the
tubers. If any tubers push up through the soil cover them immediately
with a depth of soil so they don't manufacture a poisionous green
area on the potato. Good luck!
John Savage (my news address is not valid for email)
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