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Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

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Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  npars on 1/29/2013, 3:39 pm

Last year was the first year I planted potatoes, and while they didn't produce all that well, I saved about 40-50 small (1-2") potatoes to use to plant this coming year's crop. They're laid out in my basement, and in the last week I found them sprouting like crazy - like 5" tall stalks coming out. It's about 65 degrees, and pitch black down there.

I live in Wisconsin, and we're still in a deep freeze for another month or 2, so I can't plant them for a while. My garage hovers around 30-32 degrees, so I don't think I can leave them there. I have no place that's the ideal 40-50 degrees for them.

What do I do, so as to still salvage them for planting in April? Do I just leave them be, or should I pull off the stalks and hope they hold off resprouting for a couple months, or put them someplace cold? I really have no idea. Thanks for your help!

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  littlejo on 1/29/2013, 7:24 pm

Potatoes are really a cool weather crop. I would probably take the spuds, put them in some dirt, and move to garage. Don't 'pull' off the green or they may not sprout again. The dirt is just for some insulation, for the sprouts may freeze if left exposed to freezing weather.
I think next yr., a container of straw with potatoes, in the garage would do, then move to warm basement about a month before time to plant, so they can sprout.
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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  camprn on 1/29/2013, 7:26 pm

I agree with JO, but considering your location I would recommend you place them in a cold area (not freezing) this will slow cell division and thus growth.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  npars on 1/29/2013, 7:57 pm

Thanks for the replies. I'll be sure to leave the sprouted stalks as is. I was thinking about moving them into the garage, but was worried that they might freeze. The garage is attached to the house, so it gets a little warmth at least, but still mostly follows the outdoor temperature. I think the idea of insulating them under some soil sounds like it might provide enough of a "blanket". But the other challenge is finding some dry soil for the job. Everything outdoors is soaking wet right now.

As an interesting aside...
I originally had them stored in the part of the basement that has a couple windows, so the potatoes had a little light (not too much though). And I recently saw that they were getting a few tiny buds on them. I read that total darkness would be better (and would inhibit growth), so I moved them to the dark side of the basement. But it looks like doing that actually spurred on their sprouting somehow - just a few days later and it's potato stalks galore.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  littlejo on 1/29/2013, 8:32 pm

Just that bit of light got them started. It's better to store them in something, dirt, straw, etc. Potatoes usually sprout on their own at the right time of yr, even in total darkness, if it's warm enough.
How about bringing in something from outside, let it dry in the basement, then put potatoes in.
We are having a sort of early spring here, spring flowers in bloom, even the maple trees and apple trees blooming. I put part of my potatoes in ground today, didn't put them all for we have had no winter here yet!
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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  NHGardener on 1/30/2013, 3:19 am

How do you know when a sprouting potato has passed the point of plantability? My potatoes from last year are also starting to sprout. I put them in a cold room (about 50F) and there they sit. I'm hoping they wait till planting time, but just wondered how to tell if they're past prime.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  littlejo on 1/30/2013, 6:10 am

I don't know about past prime, I've planted potatoes that were in the frig, sprouting but dried up and wrinkled, not edible, and they still made potatoes. When is your planting time?
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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  NHGardener on 1/30/2013, 8:17 am

I believe our potato planting time in 5a is early May, but I'll have to double check that. I'm hoping the 50 degree room is enough to keep them holding out that long. Should I throw a towel over them to keep them dark? Or, in the refrigerator?

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  CapeCoddess on 1/30/2013, 10:51 am

I gave up on trying to keep the sprouted potatoes I didn't plant yet, and threw them into the compost today. They were so dried out. They'll probably grow like crazy out there now, right? geek

Of the 4 that I planted indoors in the 5 gal bucket last week, so far one has grown above the dirt. Got my fingers crossed for the other 3. I just can't figure out how to get the sunshine into them...

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  littlejo on 1/30/2013, 11:08 am

You will prob. have a load of potatoes in your compost pile! If they grow in the compost pile, then you will know that you should have just planted them early. Potatoes are a cool weather crop, they hate the heat. Seed potatoes are on the shelf at the farm store down here now.
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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 4:41 pm

@npars wrote:Last year was the first year I planted potatoes, and while they didn't produce all that well, I saved about 40-50 small (1-2") potatoes to use to plant this coming year's crop. They're laid out in my basement, and in the last week I found them sprouting like crazy - like 5" tall stalks coming out. It's about 65 degrees, and pitch black down there.

I live in Wisconsin, and we're still in a deep freeze for another month or 2, so I can't plant them for a while. My garage hovers around 30-32 degrees, so I don't think I can leave them there. I have no place that's the ideal 40-50 degrees for them.

What do I do, so as to still salvage them for planting in April? Do I just leave them be, or should I pull off the stalks and hope they hold off resprouting for a couple months, or put them someplace cold? I really have no idea. Thanks for your help!

You have a similar last frost date to me then .... 26 May ... ????
We usually start chiting spuds in about two weeks time, ready for a mid May planting .
Bring the spuds out the basement ,rub off all the chits over 1/4 inch long and put them on some newspaper on a tray in a cool room about 50 0 F by a north facing window.
That should give them time to slow down and go green then produce new chits .
OR
Put a spud in a six inch plant pot and grow on in a cool room by a north window ... keep them on the dryish side but not too dry .. it will root and should not be too big 6 days befoe last frost date ( cover with a fleece after planting out ) . It should also make for easy planting if you have enough space for them all.

One thing ......
Most potatoes for seed are best set aside for seed when they get to be about the size of a small hens egg ( 1 & 1/2 " long ) as there will be enough food stored to allow the plant to fully develop .

Those tiny spuds might not be full of enough stored food and many may just go rotten . So don't rely on them as a full crop just plant them as a bonus of few new spuds if they do grow .

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  plantoid on 1/30/2013, 4:54 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:I gave up on trying to keep the sprouted potatoes I didn't plant yet, and threw them into the compost today. They were so dried out. They'll probably grow like crazy out there now, right? geek

Of the 4 that I planted indoors in the 5 gal bucket last week, so far one has grown above the dirt. Got my fingers crossed for the other 3. I just can't figure out how to get the sunshine into them...

CC

perhaps a LED grow light hung two inches above them ...keep them less than 50 oF and they will slow down .

Don't give them 24/7 light just six hrs a day or so till it gets warmer then move them to your spring daylight hours & harden off outside when posssible .

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  npars on 1/31/2013, 4:12 pm

What would be the best bet for storing the potatoes if there is no room at around 50 degrees? My only choices are the basement at ~65 degrees, the garage at 32+/- , or the fridge at ~37 degrees. I also have no north-facing windows, except in the garage.

Also, I've now read two conflicting pieces of advice: one saying to leave all the sprouts alone, and the other saying to remove all over 1/4". What's the advantage or disadvantage to one or the other? Will too many premature sprouts sap too much energy from the plant before planting it? The only goal is simply to have potatoes that grow in the spring.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  mollyhespra on 1/31/2013, 9:11 pm

This article recommends storing them in the fridge but maybe it's too late for that now that they've started sprouting...

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  CarolynPhillips on 2/1/2013, 7:49 am

Since potatoes are a cool weather crop and most places can store their potatoes in the ground for the winter and harvest as they need them, I started potatoes in the ground in Nov. They are suppose to be mulched with straw to protect them from freeze but I did not. The plant tips grow during are warmer temps and then get frost bite during the colder temps but they just keep growing. I got curious and pulled a tator to see if it was doing anything in the 2 foot deep raised bed and it had thumb size tators all over it. The tators were planted 4 inches deep Just a thought for ya.
Another way to store potatoes is to dig a hole the size of a 30 gallon trash can and store the trash can in the hole. Store potatoes in the trash can with lid, cover with tarp and then with thich layer of straw.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/1/2013, 3:33 pm

@CarolynPhillips wrote:Since potatoes are a cool weather crop and most places can store their potatoes in the ground for the winter and harvest as they need them, I started potatoes in the ground in Nov. They are suppose to be mulched with straw to protect them from freeze but I did not. The plant tips grow during are warmer temps and then get frost bite during the colder temps but they just keep growing. I got curious and pulled a tator to see if it was doing anything in the 2 foot deep raised bed and it had thumb size tators all over it. The tators were planted 4 inches deep

Really really good info here, Carolyn. Thanks so much!
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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  plantoid on 2/1/2013, 7:07 pm

My suggestion for rubbing the chits off was to try and delay the potato development by a fortnight or so as it will usually grow new ones.


you can usually store spuds in a bin full of dry clean peat in the garage if the air temp does not stay below 32 oF for too long .
Two years ago I had a large plastic trashcan filled in layers with dry peat potatoes and carrots in deepest winter .

We hit minus 10 centigrade air temps for nmost of the period of three weeks
The concrete floor was about + 3 oC the potatoes and carrots in the bin about +3 oC ,the lid was only part on the bin to allow things to breathe.

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Another potato question

Post  NHGardener on 2/2/2013, 4:30 pm

I opened the 10 lb. bag of Maine potatoes to make french fries, and what do you know, every single one of those potatoes was sprouting, some with shoots inches long.

Can I plant them? Obviously this company doesn't treat their potatoes with the anti-sprout stuff. Maine is local to here (NH) so they should be a good fit geographically.

You think they'll last another 3 1/2 months? Maybe they'll be rotten by then?

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/2/2013, 5:19 pm

Seems like a lot of us are having this problem, NHG. I planted half of mine in a 5 gal bucket of used MM indoors, 2 of 4 which are now about 6 in tall. The rest of the potatoes got mashed & eaten, with the sprouted sections cut off and going into the compost pile.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  NHGardener on 2/2/2013, 8:51 pm

Hmm. I might have to research this and post back.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  camprn on 2/2/2013, 9:13 pm

All my potatoes (15 pounds left) are starting to sprout as well. I will continue to break off the sprouting eyes and eat the 'taters. They are all going to do this at this time of year. Fear not, there will be other potatoes to be had. If I have to I will buy seed potatoes in a few months. Next year I have to work out a more suitable cold storage arrangement.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  GWN on 2/2/2013, 9:27 pm

I have a cold room that is about 5 degrees celcius (41 F) and it is totally dark, and I am noticing tiny little sprouts starting. thinking It is in a closed room down a dark hallway What a Face
CC I am interested in how your taters in compost pile do. I just turned mine over today and found 2 very healthy looking garlic cloves with roots and stems...

Rose posted a link about a guy who takes some of his potatoes he harvests in the fall, puts them right back into the ground for the spring harvest.
It seems that it must be warm enough down there, and I wonder whether Mels Mix actually acts like insulation.
When I was digging up my carrots a month ago under all the snow, I found a great big potato, it was healthy (my carrot squares were right next to my potato squares) SO this year I am going to plant WAY more potatoes and replant a few when I dig them up in the fall, so I have some in the spring/or winter

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  NHGardener on 2/2/2013, 10:34 pm

@camprn wrote:All my potatoes (15 pounds left) are starting to sprout as well. I will continue to break off the sprouting eyes and eat the 'taters. They are all going to do this at this time of year. Fear not, there will be other potatoes to be had. If I have to I will buy seed potatoes in a few months. Next year I have to work out a more suitable cold storage arrangement.

Throw away good seed potatoes? What a Face

I suppose if they're not going to last, they're not going to last. So wrinkly, shrunken and half rotten potatoes don't make for good seed potatoes then...

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  camprn on 2/2/2013, 10:39 pm

@NHGardener wrote:
@camprn wrote:All my potatoes (15 pounds left) are starting to sprout as well. I will continue to break off the sprouting eyes and eat the 'taters. They are all going to do this at this time of year. Fear not, there will be other potatoes to be had. If I have to I will buy seed potatoes in a few months. Next year I have to work out a more suitable cold storage arrangement.

Throw away good seed potatoes? What a Face

I suppose if they're not going to last, they're not going to last. So wrinkly, shrunken and half rotten potatoes don't make for good seed potatoes then...
Oh dear, I did not mean to imply that at all. If they are still edible I would put them on the table. If they are truly shrunken and shriveled it wouldn't hurt to hang on to them until they are planted or compost heap bound. I guess my point was in short, if the ones you have go by there will be seed potatoes available later and not to worry overly much.

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

Post  NHGardener on 2/2/2013, 10:56 pm

Oh.

An eaten seed potato is a wasted seed potato. Laughing

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Re: Seed potatoes are sprouting early in my basement!

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