Last summer, I came across a few potatoes in my refrigerator that had sprouted.
(Is it just me, or does the one on the bottom look like a creepy hand?)
Instead of throwing them out, my gardening curiosity got the best of me and into the garden plot they went. I cut them up and threw them right into the middle, next to the overflowing strawberry patch. Much to my surprise, they grew!
But it was late August and they didn’t have enough time to turn into full grown potatoes so I put my potato dreams on hold. When I pulled the dead plants out this spring, I was shocked to find tiny potatoes under all that green. I was inspired by the fact that my old food could turn into new, fresh food so I decided to plant a few rows of potato sprouts this year (denoted by the red square in the picture below).
Only one sprout has come up in the area that I intentionally planted, but in the area I planted last year (and thought I dug up), multiple sprouts have come up! Obviously we missed a few baby potatoes when we pulled them up a few months ago and now we have rogue potato plants growing in the middle of the plot. I have no idea how many more are down there and have a feeling this could turn out like the “great strawberry takeover of 2010″ (more on that later). Good thing we like potatoes! The plants in the red circles are the potato plants (notice that only one of them falls within the red square pictures above):
Potatoes can handle chillier weather and do best when planted in soil that is about 45 degrees so they were one of the first things I planted. I used store bought potatoes and cut them into cubes that were about 2 inches wide, making sure there was at least one “eye” on each cube. Make sure your soil is damp but not too wet. Extremely wet soil can cause the seed potatoes to rot instead of grow. Some gardeners recommend against using potatoes from the grocery store because large growers often treat potatoes with growth inhibitors to keep them from sprouting in the store. Apparently grocery store potatoes can also carry diseases (which really makes a great argument for growing them yourself) that can spread to other potatoes in your plot. I tend to take the “action first, learn later” approach to gardening so I may learn my lesson, but until then, I am taking the grocery store gamble. I can already taste all of the delicious baked potato I will be enjoying at the end of the summer!
Are you growing potatoes this year? What are your thoughts on the grocery store vs. certified sprouts argument? What plants are taking over in your garden?