Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Trouble with taters

I ordered a couple of different types of seed potatoes to plant this year mailorder, and when they got to me they were in terrible shape.  Softer than butter and generally rotting.  What I think happened is that they got frozen somewhere in their trip and that killed them, and then they just rotted.

Being the thrifty soul I am, I carefully sorted through and washed the potatoes, ending up with about half of what I ordered; not enough to plant.  So I went looking at the local feed stores and hardware stores, and they had seed potatoes, but wanted what I considered to be an outlandish sum for them -- when you did the math some of these potatoes were selling for $4/lb!

So I'm walking through the local market and they've got this mixed bag of "gourmet" potatoes, red and purple and yellow - in sizes that would work pretty well for seed potatoes.   I know they're probably sprayed with something to make them not sprout, but we've all had potatoes sprout out of bags.  And they are definitely in better shape than my seed potatoes.   And these are $0.60/lb.

So I'm going to plant these right alongside my more-expensive seed potatoes, in the next row, and see how they do.  I sure do like the price.

As a note; these potatoes were probably produced around here, in western washington.   It's a major commercial crop.  So while i'm taking a chance that these particular tubers are imported, chances are good that they're local.


Steve said...

We have more than once sprouted grocery store potatoes. They grow and they eat well also.

ellie k said...

Our Walmart had seed potatoes. They also had onion sets and many other starts. We have some really nice potato plants in our garden. I started these from potatoes that sprouted in the store bought bag.

Lee Johnson said...

There's a pretty good explanation for the cost of seed potatoes, assuming they are good quality ones. According to the NW gardening books by Steve Solomon, there are a number of potato diseases (viruses) which reduce yield and are passed on from one generation to the next. Some do not show any symptoms beyond the yield impact. These diseases are nearly all spread by aphids, so high quality seed potatoes are started from recently cloned virus-free stock and grown at high altitudes where aphids are not an issue.

That said, we've saved potatoes from one generation to the next, which should get you into trouble, and never seen a measurable impact on yield. If you want to get your seed potatoes from the grocery store, I'd suggest the organic ones as they aren't sprayed with the sprouting inhibitor.

Jeff said...

I'd suggest adding another treatment to your experiment. Head to one of the Skagit area farm stores and buy some seed potatoes from them as well. These are usually pretty cheap, and they have a good variety in big bins. You can also get a 50 pound bag of Yukon golds from Wallace Farms in Burlington for $6 right now via a craigslist offer.

Adam said...

Should be an interesting experiment. Can't wait to see the results!