8 Certified Kennebec Seed Potatoes
Have you ever tasted home grown potatoes? Some say there is no comparison to store bought potatoes. Home grown potatoes are fresher, more flavorful and healthier for you. A small number of seed potatoes will yield a few buckets of potatoes ready to eat and enjoy and can even be stored throughout the winter months.
1. Potatoes must have well-drained, moisture retentive, fertile soil that is high in organic matter and a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. Do not use a lime soil, the soil should be slightly acidic.
2. To prevent disease problems, do not plant potatoes in the same bed as tomatoes.
3. Potatoes should be rotated on a 3 year program. This means, you need 3 suitable sites if you want to grow potatoes every year.
1. Before planting set your seed potatoes in a warm location (between 60-70 degrees F.) in full sun such as on a kitchen window sill, for one to two weeks. This will induce sprouting.
2. One day before planting, take a sharp, clean knife and cut the potato into planting pieces or “seeds”. Each piece should be approximately 1.5-2” square and must contain at least 1 or 2 eyes. (Eyes can be identified as the indentations or dimples on a potato). Small potatoes with a minimal amount of eyes may be planted whole. Allow “seeds” to dry and form a callous over their cuts.
1. Plant potatoes after your last frost date, furthermore potatoes will not grow until your soil temperature is over 50 degrees F.
2. Dig a trench 1 foot deep and add compost at the bottom of the trench where it will be most beneficial to newly forming roots.
3. Place potato seeds 18” apart and 3-4” deep inside the trench, with the cut side down and eyes pointing upwards. Cover potato seeds with about 3-4” of soil only. Do not fill the trench completely.
4. Depending on the soil temperature, stems will emerge from the potato seeds within 2 weeks. At this time add another 3-4” of soil into the trench.
5. Your crop of potatoes will form between the planted potato seeds and the top of the soil. When the stems are about 8” high, add another 3-4” of soil into the trench.
6. Add another 3-4” of soil to your trench within 2-3 weeks as the stems continue to grow.
7. At this point add a small amount of soil (1-2”) as needed to ensure new potatoes are not exposed to sunlight. If new potatoes are exposed to sunlight while developing, they will turn green. This green portion may be toxic if eaten.
8. Water your potatoes well and frequently and keep them weed free.
In general, potatoes should not be harvested until 2 weeks after the vines have died back. This allows the skin to set and reduces skin peeling, bruising and rotting while in storage. After harvesting, immediately store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Gently dig around the plant removing the largest tubers with an option of leaving the smaller ones in the ground to keep growing.
For a late harvest you may wait until 2 to 3 weeks after the foliage has died back.
If by the end of September the foliage has not died back yet, all the foliage should be cut off to ensure your crop has ample time to mature before winter.
To maximize your crop, keep potaotes well watered throughout the summer but especially during the period when they are in flower and immediately thereafter. Water early in the day, this allows foliage to dry completely before the evening. If you do not have the space to dig a large trench, some creative gardeners have used garbage cans or four old tires to grow potatoes with great success.