saving your own seed potato stock?

I’ve never had a problem growing potatoes in our nice loamy sand. Not with disease, not with pests.  In fact potatoes are the ONLY thing I’ve never had problems with.  For whatever reasons, they just like our soil.  But one negative for me about growing potatoes is that I can either buy the seed spuds at the local nurseries (and have three variety choices) or online, (and pay a fortune).

But yesterday I came across an article that might change the way I’ve always done things (and I love that):

Want to save your own seed potatoes to plant again next year? Here’s what to do. When you harvest the crop, choose a few firm healthy ones which are about the size of a bantam’s egg. (If that doesn’t mean anything to you, think something a bit smaller than a hen’s egg.) Size isn’t really that important though … the main thing is to select the ones that look as undamaged as possible. A few scabs aren’t anything to worry about, but avoid any that are cut or nibbled by critters. Either leave them to dry and then brush the soil off, or wash them carefully, taking care not to harm the tiny sprout-buds in the eyes (they are fairly robust unless subjected to overzealous scrubbing). Allow them to dry and then put them in a bright place for several days to ‘green’ them up a little. A window sill or a dry place outdoors will do nicely. This process helps to trigger dormancy, so the spuds have a better chance of getting through the winter without premature sprouting. Then store them in a dark, dry, airy place till next year. What I usually do is put them in eggboxes, or arrange them upright in a cardboard box with some kind of packing material to separate them, such as shredded paper, hay or sawdust.

The bottom line is, potatoes are survivors. They will grow on compost heaps, at the bottoms of sacks, in wetness, in drought, in darkness and just about anywhere else. They can take root from peelings and cut tubers. I’ve had decent crops from even the most pathetic looking specimens.

I’ve read in various places that you shouldn’t save your own seed potato tubers from year to year because they are likely to build up viruses and get worse and worse over time until the crop fails … therefore you should buy new certified virus-free stock each year. There may be some wisdom in that, but personally I’ve been planting home-saved tubers for years and have never had any problems. If anything the plants do better because they’re adapted to my garden.

So this year, I believe I’ll spring for a batch of pricey-but-best-in-class internet spuds, and come late summer, take my first shot at saving my own seed potatoes.

[Update}:

Um, I tend to be impulsive with many things.  After looking more closely at the shipping costs for those beautiful old potato varieties, it seems that it might not be very prudent to shell out that much moola to start my new potato Eden.  If we ate more of them, maybe. If I was obsessed with using only organic seed sources, maybe.  But we don’t, and I’m not.

Stewardship applies not only to the soil and plants, but to money too.  Moderation in all things.  I’ll pick some local variety spuds up at the local nursery and give our local economy a boost.

Boring, I know.

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5 thoughts on “saving your own seed potato stock?

  1. You are always reading my mind!! Thanks for your post.
    I have some white potaotes going to seed in my pantry that I was thinking about using this year. lol
    I just recently picked up some sweet potatoes, on sale 🙂 , from the supermarket to make my sweet potato slips. This time last year was my first attempt at sweet potato slips and now I am hooked. Huge success for this sweet potato newbie…beginner’s luck? Just three supermarket sweet potatoes produced 10 pounds!! Hubby used all of our homegrown sweet potatoes from last year’s harvest to try out a new recipe. He’s hoping I can do it again this year.
    As always please keep us posted on your potato progress. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what they say Dana…’Great minds…’ Sounds like you’ve had good luck with sweet potatoes, which I’ve never tried. I was just looking for heirloom varieties of seed potato, and got sidetracked by stuff about late blight. The Internet is evil.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We have so many varieties here .. Spoilt for choice! I do buy seed, although I save it too and dont go to any trouble to do so. Spuds amaze me .. No matter how carefully you are at digging them up, they always seem to pop up next season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re lucky to have the choices Julie! Around here there are 3 or 4 varieties available at the garden centers and nurseries. I imagine there are more in the bigger metropolises (metropoli?) but not here in Podunk. But I will try saving some, no matter where I get them. And yes, potatoes and onions find the best hiding places!

      Like

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