I don’t think I’ve planted potatoes in years. Mainly because we don’t have the room or I forget and don’t get any in time. Not so this year! I am bound and determined to get those spuds in the ground on Good Friday! As long as I’ve been around a garden, that is the day to get those potatoes in the ground. For years I thought that if you didn’t get them in the ground on Good Friday, you wouldn’t get any potatoes at all. Or they would be filled with bugs and other slimy things. Every year I am asked “Did you get your potatoes in on Good Friday?” Every year I shake my head and say “I didn’t plant any potatoes”. They look at me with sympathy in their eyes, pat my hand and say “That’s alright, dear, there’s always next year”. Okay, they don’t actually day that. Sometimes I feel like I’m a failure, though, because I didn’t plant any potatoes.
This year I got some Kennebec, Yukon Gold and Red Lasoda.
I love mashed potatoes from Yukon Gold, but don’t ask me why I bought the others. I have heard of Kennebec but not the Red Lasoda. Doesn’t matter. I’ll enjoy them later in the year.
Since it has been so long since I have planted potatoes I figured that I had better do some reading up on them. I know to dig a hole, cut the potatoes – including several eyes- plop them in the hole and then mound it up. That seems to pretty much be the rules to plant potatoes. However, in my “research” I found one article that tells me to cut “the tubers into sections, place the freshly cut seed pieces in a humid, 60 to 70° F location for one or two days.” This comes from the Iowa State Extension Service (check it out here). It says that the time after the cutting allows a callus to cover the cut surface. I may do half with the cutting and plopping, and then half with the healing time before plopping it in the hole. The article also mentions that potatoes sold at the grocery store have usually been treated to prevent sprouting. That comes as a surprise to me since most of the potatoes that I forget about in our basement usually have sprouts. And I’m pretty sure that is what we planted when we were kids. I certainly remember helping Dad dig them up… trying to get them all out before he shoved the fork back in the mound… so I know they grew. Hmmm.
When you plant your potatoes, dig your hole about 3 to 4 inches deep (and about a foot apart), plop in the pieces- cut side down- and then mound up the dirt around them. If the potatoes grow with too much light hitting them, they produce a lot of chlorophyll and high levels of something called “glycoalkaloids” that develop in that green tissue. Green potatoes have a bitter taste when you eat them and may cause an upset stomach or even more serious health problems. So make sure there is plenty of dirt that is mounded around the base of the plant.
This could be a grand experiment. And maybe I’ll hold a few pieces back and plant them after Good Friday. Might as well go all out on the Great Potato Experiment! I’ll keep you updated.