Linda brought in the last two buckets of potatoes, one for her one for me last week. We stored them in the root cellar last fall and have been enjoying them up to now. We planted our new crop last week in the garden. You can either buy potato sets or eyes from a catalog (see the post “Ordering Seeds It’s A Joint Adventure”) or get whole potatoes from a feed store or farm supply store. I received a new catalog in the mail called “The Maine Potato Lady,” they feature many kinds of potatoes, garlic and other crops and items. We also sometimes use leftover potatoes that have sprouted. The problem with using sprouted potatoes is that they have been cross pollinated and you never know what you’ll get. You can plant red potatoes and get white when you dig them up.
If you buy sets or eyes from a catalog, they will be ready for planting and only need to be stored in a cool dark place until then. When you buy the whole potatoes you have to divide them into eyes before you can plant them. First store them in a cool dark place for a few weeks so that the eyes develop, so you can see where to make the divisions. On the day you plan to plant them, cut the potatoes into as many divisions, each with at least one eye, as you can, making sure you have enough of the potato flesh to feed the developing plant. Then set the cut up potatoes cut side up in the sun to cure, it should take about a hour. When cured, the surface will be dry to the touch and will look as if it had healed over.
We bought thirty lbs. of potatoes to plant this year, ten lbs. of red, ten lbs. of white and ten lbs. of Yukon Gold. An easy way to plant a lot of potatoes is to make a trench with a hoe and then lay the potatoes cut side down, eyes up, then cover with a hoe. You can also use a trowel and plant each one in a hole down the row. Mulch them heavily.
The longer the potato plants stay green the larger the potatoes will be and you will also have more of them. In late summer the potatoes will start to die back. You can leave them in the soil for a few weeks after the die off but, they need to be dug up before the soil gets cold and wet. Potatoes left in cold wet soil will rot faster and will have bands of brown coloring in them.
Try to dig them up on the morning of a sunny day. Put tarps on the grass then put the potatoes on them. Let the potatoes dry in the sun for a couple of hours, then store them in plastic buckets, wooden baskets or what ever you have and then store in a root cellar or in a dark, consistently cool cellar or basement. The potatoes will not turn green when treated this way.