To get potatoes to sprout is something you can make happen if you have knowledge of potato germination.
The aforementioned is a skill that can be easily learned by many who wish to sprout a potato for personal consumption.
While it can be a little daunting for beginners to germinate potato plants, we are here to make the process of sprouting potatoes simple for you. Read on as we help you learn how to get potatoes to grow eyes, plant potatoes without sprouts, and make potatoes sprout faster.
How to Get Potatoes to Sprout: An Introduction and Explanation
Before we begin the basics to make a potato sprout, we must understand the reasons why they sprout at all.
Potatoes function like little seedlings so they need light, the proper temperature, and the right air moisture conditions to begin sprouting. Unlike most seedlings, however, potatoes do not always need a growing medium, such as soil, to begin the process of sprouting. Potatoes already contain adequate nutrients that they hardly need any soil to germinate.
Plan Ahead of Time
It is best to provide a timeframe to sprout a potato before planting it in the ground. The average time it takes for a potato to begin sprouting is anywhere from seven to 21 days, depending on the variety.
Some gardeners forget to include the pre-planting process, which is the early awakening of the potatoes to induce sprouting. This process of sprouting potatoes early is often called chitting.
The time to make a potato sprout also largely depends on the light, temperature, and moisture conditions.
When time is of the essence, the easiest way to encourage potatoes to sprout is by exposing them to bright indirect light. The presence of bright indirect light can trigger the potatoes to begin sprouting, making it easier for gardeners to stay on course.
Potatoes that have not been treated with chemical sprout suppressants usually germinate one to three months after harvest. The sprouting period also depends on the variety of certified seed quality potatoes.
Moreover, the most ideal time to start planting the sprouted potatoes is during the early spring when the temperature ranges from 45 F to 50 F.
Normally, most potatoes are ready to be harvested in 60 to 90 days. So, planning ahead can provide gardeners with the ideal timeframes for chitting, planting, and harvesting.
Pick the Right Types of Potatoes
Before you even start the sprouting process, you have to pick the right potatoes so you can guarantee success.
1. Issues With Store-Bought Potatoes
Store-bought retail potatoes are often sprayed with commercial potato growers with chemicals that prevent the potatoes from sprouting while in transit and while on display on the store shelves.
Store-bought potatoes also often carry bacteria, fungi, and virus strains that can easily infect and spread in your garden. Such infections could result in an unwanted contagion of diseases that can render the area unconducive to healthy gardening. When infected from commercial store-bought potatoes, the soil may need three years to heal and recover.
2. Infections That Can Affect Potato Sprouting
Moreover, two of the most devastating fungal infections that can ravage potatoes are potato blight and potato scab.
Potato blight easily spreads through wind, water, and insects that come into contact with the infected crop. This could lead to a widespread infection that may affect neighboring gardens.
Potato scabs are more evident, with raised dark brown patches that are pithy and resemble warts. This infection is often carried through water, wind, and infected gardening or farm equipment.
These two diseases are extremely infectious as fungal infections build up in the soil over time. In an area that is suspected to be infected, it is most prudent to leave the lot alone for three years or more.
3. The Magic of Organic Seed Potatoes
Organic seed potatoes are essential to healthy potato sprouting as they have been found to reduce the risks of diseases and infections. While certified seed potatoes might seem costly upfront, many gardeners find that using them ends up being more economical than using commercial store-bought potatoes for germination.
Owing to their disease-free characteristics, certified seed potatoes often provide ample harvests over the years. Some certified seed potato varieties are even available, making the eventual crop harvest disease-free, unique, and quirky.
Finally, when buying certified seed potatoes, it is recommended to purchase from reputable stores with excellent after-sales customer service.
Provide the Right Environmental Conditions
Potatoes often sprout for varying reasons. Exposure to light, even artificial indoor fluorescent lights, initially triggers potatoes to sprout. Some gardeners use special grow lights to optimize the germination process of potatoes.
1. Air Moisture Is a Necessity
What’s more, air moisture also activates potatoes and triggers germination. This is often why some people find untouched potatoes growing sprouts in the refrigerator even though the lighting condition is inadequate.
2. Ideal Temperature Conditions
Warm temperature conditions also encourage potatoes to germinate. Temperatures above 50 F usually cause sprouting in potatoes. Ideal temperature ranges have been known to be extremely effective when combined with bright indirect lighting and adequate air moisture levels.
3. Potato Placement Matters
Placing potatoes with onions and other fruits also sets off the germination process due to the ethylene gas that ripening fruits emit.
Some gardeners even place certified seed potatoes in open egg trays to keep them stable and ensure that the fragile sprouts do not get disturbed. It is also best to keep them slightly apart so that their sprouts do not interfere with one another. This method also reduces the chances of damage during transplanting.
4. What To Do When Sprouts Are Bigger
Once the sprouts are bigger, which usually happens in about a month, the sprouted potatoes can be planted in the soil with the sprouts facing up. When touching potato sprouts, it is best to use gloves as the sprouts contain a chemical that deters pests. This chemical can be toxic, and it is advisable to take necessary precautions.
Awaking the potatoes early from their natural dormancy mostly depends on the variety, and it is most recommended to purchase varieties that are ideal for your region, location, and climate conditions.
How to Water Potatoes
Now that the sprouted potatoes are transplanted on the ground, the next question most gardeners ask is how to make sure that the potatoes are well-watered.
Water Requirements For Newly Transplanted Potatoes
Newly transplanted potatoes should not be overwatered for two weeks. So, watering the potatoes every four to five days is usually adequate during the first week of planting. It is recommended to consult the seller to ensure that your purchased variety is provided with the ideal watering conditions for your specific gardening zone.
Water Requirements For Potatoes in the Growing Phase
Potatoes grow best when there is a constant supply of one inch to three inches of water weekly, without having the soil fully drying up. This is because potatoes appreciate deep watering especially when the weather and climate conditions are hot and dry. Ideally, the soil should be moist from eight inches to 10 inches under the ground.
Moreover, the potatoes can be watered daily or every other day, six weeks to eight weeks after planting. In any case, it is still best to consult with the seller on how to care for your specific variety of certified seed potatoes to ensure their optimal health.
How to Harvest Potatoes
To begin, keep in mind that potatoes take 60 days to 90 days to mature for harvest, depending on the certified seed potato variety.
Harvesting Potatoes For Personal Consumption
Furthermore, for personal consumption, harvesting potatoes is easy and simple. Using a shovel or a spading fork, drive your tool into the soil around the outside range of the potato plant. Dig around the potatoes until the soil is loose enough for you to remove the tubers.
Carefully lift the root system, and select the potatoes you will need to remove. Once you have picked and taken off the potatoes you want, set the whole tuber root system back in place.
Water your harvested potatoes carefully and thoroughly. You can now begin to prepare them for consumption after allowing the potatoes to dry off after cleansing.
Harvesting Potatoes For Overwintering Storage
To harvest potatoes for overwintering storage, it is ideal to do a test to check for maturity. Mature potatoes have thick skin that is firmly attached to their flesh. Rub a portion of the potato skin.
If the skin is thin and rubs off easily, the potato is still young and needs more time to mature. Leave it in the ground for a few more days and check again using the same method.
Furthermore, dug-up potatoes with scrapes, bruises, and cuts are not ideal to be stored over winter. These conditions can cause the potatoes to rot during storage. Therefore, scraped, bruised, and cut potatoes should be used and consumed as soon as possible.
How to Store Potatoes: The Curing & Storing Process Explained
Mature potatoes that have been harvested must be allowed to cure, which means allowing them to sit in temperatures that range from 45 F to 60 F for approximately two weeks. This allows the skin to harden and seal in any minor injuries.
Once cured, the potatoes should be stored in dark conditions in temperatures at 40 F. This is due to the fact that lower temperatures and the absence of light prevents the potatoes from turning green or sprouting.
While low temperatures encourage longer storage life, potatoes should not be allowed to freeze either, as this causes their cell structure to change, making them turn black when cooked.
Sprouted potatoes may still be safely consumed, although it is best to just be cautious and replant them accordingly.
Growing potatoes can be quite exciting once we have a full understanding of how to get them to sprout, how to care for them, and how to harvest them. Let’s wrap up everything we’ve learned so far about proper potato germination and storage:
- Growing certified seed potato varieties is the best choice as they are organic, easier to induce potato germination, and easier to care for without risking the health of your soil
- You can make potatoes sprout faster and earlier by exposing them to high levels of indirect light, ideal air moisture, and adequate temperature
- Get potatoes to grow eyes or sprouts by placing them with ripening fruits that emit ethylene gas
- You can plant potatoes without sprouts, although it is highly recommended to plant sprouted potatoes for a more successful yield
- Harvesting certified seed potatoes can be extremely easy, whether for personal consumption or for overwintering storage, as long as the proper tools are used and the appropriate methods are exercised
You’ve now understood how simple it is to sprout potatoes as long as you follow the basics of their botanical requirements. With a little time, patience, and careful planning, you can enjoy your own organic bountiful harvest of the potatoes of your choice!
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