Ordering Seed Potatoes

Seed PotatoesIn early January, when I took inventory of my seed stocks and sent off my 2013 order to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, I told myself that I had plenty of time to order my seed potatoes later. I didn’t have to order everything at the same time this year because I’m ordering the seed potatoes direct from the grower, so as to get a larger quantity (and better rate) than through Southern Exposure. But, for some reason, it didn’t cross my mind until today–the last day of February–to check when I did need to order those potatoes by. And it turns out, I need to order them right now!

Potatoes should go in the ground once the soil has warmed to 50 degrees F. Last year, this put my potato planting in the last week of March. But before the potatoes go in the ground, I like to chit them: set them in a sunny windowsill so the eyes get a head start sprouting. Last year they got about a week and a half of chitting and they could have used more. So I’d like to get that order in and the potatoes arriving as soon as possible!

I’m going to order my seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, Maine. They’re certified organic, and I had success with them last year. Even though it wasn’t a bountiful year in the garden, the potatoes still produced 10 lbs. for the 1 lb. of seed potatoes I planted. And they were delicious: Yukon Golds that were so naturally creamy and buttery when baked that you didn’t need to add anything at all to them. We went through our 10 lbs. in record time, and I vowed to plant more the next year.

So this time, I’m ordering 10 lbs. of seed potatoes, which will hopefully produce a harvest between 100 and 200  lbs. Each pound of seed potatoes generally needs 7 ft. of 3-ft.-wide row. So 21 sq. ft. per pound.

To give you an idea of what to expect if it’s your first time growing potatoes, the harvest last year for my Yukon Golds here in Virginia was in the first week of July. Yukon Golds are pretty early potatoes, which I’m told is good for our area, since potatoes don’t grow well in extreme heat. I did read in Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener, however, that Yukon Golds keep very well left in the soil through the summer, until temperatures drop enough that they’ll keep well in a cellar or garage. It is important that if you grow many potatoes you have a place to store them that’s cool, dark, and moist (just like the ground!). Otherwise, they’ll sprout, shrivel, and/or turn green–a color that actually indicates toxins in the potato.

For instructions on planting potatoes, see my post So Many Ways to Plant Potatoes.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m going to buy some seed potatoes too…although I did best last year with organic potatoes from my CSA…I’ve wondered what are the merits of buying seed potatoes…thoughts?

    1. Sharon says:

      The idea is to buy seed potatoes that are grown in a climate that keeps potato diseases at a minimum. From what I’ve read (in Steve Solomon’s book Gardening When It Counts), viruses can build up in potatoes each year, greatly reducing their yields if you keep planting from your own stock. Seed potato growers are normally located in cold climates like that of Maine that resemble the Andes where potatoes originated. In those places, apparently, the viruses are much less of a problem. Then again, I’ve just read Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener, and she lists ways to keep the diseases at bay even saving your own potatoes for seed. So there doesn’t seem to be one right way to do it.

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