I’ve located a local, reasonably priced source for seed potatoes (*see below for description) at Shelley’s Garden Center (across from Richlin in Branford). They have 5-pound bags for $4.50. This is the first year that they are selling them. They’ve offered to donate potatoes to “Seed, Weed and Feed”, in our Community Garden. Thank you Shelley’s!
Generally, you can expect a 7-10 fold yield from what you plant, so for a 5-pound bag, 35-50 pounds. This may sound like a lot, but potatoes store well in cool, dry conditions (I’ve kept mid-October harvested potatoes in my “not all that cold” basement in cardboard boxes easily into January; in a cooler basement, they would store longer without sprouting). Potatoes are also the ultimate kid-fun to harvest, even my kids, who won’t pick anything else, will pick homegrown potatoes–there’s something charming about unearthing a mound of spuds.
The varieties at Shelley’s are:
- Red Norland (harvest 65-80 days) Red skin, white flesh. Excellent boiling, good baking, fair storage.
- Yukon Gold (harvest 65-80 days) Yellow skin, yellow flesh. All purpose.
- Kennebec (harvest 80-90 days) Buff skin, white flesh. Dependable, adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. Large potatoes with excellent storage.
- Green Mountain (harvest >90 days) Buff skinned, heirloom with white flesh. Its dry texture makes it great for baking. Long storage.
- Russet (harvest >90 days) Russet skin, white flesh. Excellent for baking and french fries.
Red Pontiac (harvest >90 days) Red skin, white flesh. Awesome for mashed potatoes (personal experience talking here).
A 5-pound bag plants about 25 row feet. Plant in furrows, 4′-6″ deep, in rows 32-36″ apart. Space the pieces about 8″-12″ apart and cover with 2-4″ of soil. You can hill up the soil as the plant grows. Last year was an incredibly good growing year for potatoes, but the year before, not so good. It all comes down to the weather…….
* A seed potato looks just like a regular potato of a given variety, although they sometimes are smaller than what you hope to grow. They should be sprouting (showing eyes). They are what you plant (instead of seeds) to get a potato plant to grow. Now, people will ask, why not just plant a grocery store potato that is sprouting? And my response is “the party line”, that the seed potatoes are generally certified to be “disease free”. There are no guarantees of being disease free with store bought potatoes that are sprouting. However, on Dad’s farm, he’s sometimes thrown in regular store bought potatoes that have sprouted, and we haven’t noticed any particular disease problems. So, I’m not sure of how important this is. BUT, you will notice that the seed potatoes come in varieties that are not found in a grocery store, and so you have greater choice when selecting from seed potatoes (what they have at Shelley’s is just the tip of the iceberg, but a nice place to start–last year I grew blue potatoes–sort of gave people a shock when they saw them).
Posted by Branford Community Gardens at 12:37 PM