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Don't throw away your old potatoes. When the eyes start growing out, you can chop them in half or thirds and put them into a sack of soil to regrow. Here we used a large 20 pound cloth rice bag (bag only) filled with soil. We cut the potato in half, dug it into the middle of the soil, covered it with more soil, and left it in a sunny area outside and made sure to keep the soil moist. After six to eight weeks or when the sprouts are three to four inches tall, add more soil. After a few more weeks, keep checking your soil (poke around with your fingers) to see how your little potatoes are doing. When the leaves turn brown and start collapsing (some varieties bloom flowers), the potatoes are ready to pull out. :)
Spring is upon us and the potatoes under the sink or in the pantry are sprouting. If used soon, they may still be edible, but if they have gone soft or have too many sprouts, why not plant them? The easiest way is just to bury the whole potato about four inches deep.
As they grow, there will be a green plant that lets you know where the main steam is. After a while you may start to see potatoes coming to the surface. Cover these with more soil or straw. Keep covering any potatoes you see with more soil. Do not pick or eat green potatoes.
After a month, loosely turn soil of the largest green stalk and see how your potatoes are doing. You can harvest them at any size as long as they are not green. If they aren't big enough, push them back in the ground and cover.
I have had the best results with red and yukon gold but russets have done OK. I've gotten a few pounds of potatoes with almost no work and its great fun to grow something from what others would consider garbage.
While you're at it, throw any rotten tomatoes in the ground. The grape and cherry always grow in my garden.
By Maureen1010 from IL
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I just found a bag of potatoes with sprouts as long as 10 inches; there is no smell to the bag. Can I plant them? And do I cut the potatoes in half with sprout attached or put the whole potato with sprouts in ground? I've never planted potatoes. Thanks for your help.
Hardiness Zone: 7b
By sally from Blue Jay, CA
We just plant them whole. My wife just planted some. We've had better success with sprouted potatoes than with seed potatoes, you just can't get the variety of types is the only drawback.
I'm in zone 7b, too, in Little Rock, and I plant a few potatoes each year for fun with my grandson. I read a book a few years ago by Ruth Stout called 'The No Work Garden'. I liked the sound of that! She noticed potatoes volunteering where she had thrown them out for garden compost, so she stopped digging into the ground to 'plant' them. She'd place the potato on fertile soil and cover it loosely with a few inches of hay. As they grow, add more hay. I've done this for several years now and still get a kick out of it. The bonus is that you can check for growth progress just by gently pulling back the hay, then recovering the potatoes when you're done.
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With grocery prices rising everyday, I try to find every possible way to save on our food budget. I had a few potatoes which were starting to sprout, so I cut them up according to where they were sprouting and planted several hills of potatoes from just a few potatoes that were soft and sprouting.
To make it even more fulfilling, I asked my 7 year-old grandson to help me plant them. We had so much fun this afternoon as he dug and harvested some of the "crop" along with his sister, who is a toddler. They were both so excited at finding the buried "treasure" and I had to cook them right away so they could eat them. I plan to save a few and plant another crop.
By Sandy from Elon, NC
Good idea for potatoes. I take the bottoms from the green onions (scallions) place them in a flower pot of soil on my kitchen window sill. I have green onions whenever I want them. I have also planted the bottom part of my leeks, which does well.
Plant the top of the pineapple that you slice off. Soak it in water for a few days them plant it in the garden. I have wonderful pineapples small, but very sweet. (07/16/2008)
My granddaughters and I have started sweet potatoes in boxes. I got free boxes from Lowe's. They are tall ones. I searched online for growing potatoes in boxes. I had a couple of sweet potatoes that had sprouted and just cut them up. I put about 6 inches of dirt in the bottom and planted the chunks with the sprouts upwards. As the sprouts grow above the dirt you add another 6 inches of dirt. Today I noticed there are sprouts above the first layer of dirt. My granddaughters are thrilled! (07/17/2008)
Some of the potatoes that you buy in the grocery store are treated with something to prevent sprouting. You can not use them for seed. Also, there are some fancy hybrid potatoes that do not grow well from saved potatoes. Seed potatoes are nothing special. They are usually slightly smaller potatoes, although that is just because people eat the big ones first. Any potato that is sprouting should do.
You need at least one eye on each piece of potato that you plant, as that is the part that produces the sprout. You do not have to cut up the potato, but you may. It really makes no difference. The main reason for cutting up potatoes is to make each one go farther, as you usually have several eyes on each one. If I choose to cut them, I usually cut them so there is two eyes on each piece. But often I don't bother.
You plant one potato or piece of potato in each hill, but you don't hill them when you plant them. Some people dig holes with a hoe, but I just shove a shovel in the ground, toss in the potato, making sure that it is about 1 or two inches in the ground, and take the shovel out. Then I step on that spot and tromp it down a bit while I plant the next one. They need to be spaced about a foot apart, but they aren't very fussy. It depends on how much garden space you have. People with loads of space plant them a little wider apart so they can run a tiller between the rows. I hoe mine, and have a tiny garden spot now, so about a foot is good between the rows.
When the plants are about 8 inches high, you can hill them, which is just hoeing the dirt up around the plant to cover the base of the plant with a small mound of dirt. This is to keep your growing potatoes from coming up to the surface and turning green, as potatoes tend to grow near the surface of the soil. But again, you don't have to get fancy with this, and if you neglect to do it, all that will happen is that you will have few potatoes that will have turned partially green, which is not flavorful. You end up having to cut that part off.
Potatoes usually have small potatoes under them when they have blossomed. You can dig underneath them with your hands and check. They are best for eating as "new" when they are about the size of a golf ball and no bigger than a baseball. I like the ones that are just slightly bigger than a marble. You boil these whole, and eat them with butter. If you want to go gourmet, you can make a sauce with cream and dill, but just butter is the best in my opinion. When the tops start to droop and dry up, it is time to harvest your potatoes.
I have grown potatoes for 30 years, and if there is anything else you want to know, just ask. Up here in northern Sask, everyone grows their own potatoes. We have very few insects that bother the plants, so that might be a concern in the southern climes. (07/18/2008)
By Louise B.
You can search for anything online, "how to grow potatoes" it even has pictures. Good luck. (02/24/2009)
By k w