Odds and Ends: Planting Pantry Potatoes

Every spring I find at the back of my potato bin forgotten potatoes soft and sprouting. They look like alien creatures from another galaxy. Potatoes that you buy at the grocery store more often rot than sprout because they are sprayed with a chemical to inhibit sprouting. (Isn’t that appetizing?)

Nevertheless, every year a few manage to sprout. This year I also have organic potatoes that came to me from a friend who couldn’t eat her entire CSA winter storage share. Some of these potatoes got pushed into a dark, cool corner of my pantry. These potatoes sprouted freely because they hadn’t been sprayed with anything inhibiting. (If you only have room for a few hills of potatoes on an urban lot, go to any organic market and buy only as many potatoes as you need to plant a few hills. You will save on shipping and handling as well! If you are not fussy about cultivars, you can do the same thing with beans and grains rather than ordering from a seed company.)

You plant these seed potatoes like any other. Just dig a hole 6 or 8 inches deep, bury the spuds, mark, mulch, and watch for sprouts. Pile dirt or organic matter around the stems periodically as they grow, and harvest after they have flowered or when the tops have died back to the ground.

Next time you find that you have sprouting potatoes, don’t throw them out. Plant them, watch them grow, and let them feed you again. Begonia

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