Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Saving potatoes

Potatoes are a wonderful crop when you want to produce the maximum amount of calories from a give amount of space.

They do have a few quirks. For one thing, it is difficult to save "seed" from one year until the next. Another quirk is that they can be vulnerable to some devastating diseases.

A few years ago I grew a variety called Missaukee

It was hugely productive and had a nice package of disease resistance.

Last year I grew Burbank Russet because I had lost my source of Missaukee seed potatoes but I remembered a few hills of potatoes volunteering where I had grown them years before.

This is where the potatoes were volunteering. As you can see, my weed control was very substandard.

You can clearly see the potato plants in this photo. This is after I pulled away the dead weed stalks.

After lifting the clump with a shovel

After separating out the plants and the tubers they generated from. Four spouts, three tubers.

After using a knife to split the siamese twins growing out of the single tuber

In the new location
I have almost thirty hills of what I think are Missaukee plants. I want to harvest enough seed potatoes out of those hills to plant a few hundred hills next year.

There is a real chance most of these plants are not Missaukee. Missaukee sets its potatoes very close to the surface and that is not where these were. Also, Missaukee spuds are very round and many of these are peanut shaped.

Even if the specific plants I rescued are something other than Missaukee, they will be from a potato that has proven abuse tolerant and able to over-winter with no help from me.

I intend to keep my eyes peeled for any more potatoes volunteering in this portion of the garden.


  1. In a genuine TEOWAWKI situation, calories will matter more than anything else. Potatoes are more calorie dense than any other vegetable that I can think of. I consider myself fortunate that I have always liked potatoes in any form, and never get tired of them.

  2. I grow Russets. Couldn't say what kind. Peanut shaped. I always leave some in the ground for the next years seed We were at the grocery store two weeks ago and there were some of those round red potatoes there that looked about ready to sprout so I bought 10 lbs. of them and planted them for "baby reds". And today when I went out to plant the tomato plants I started from seed I see that my potatoes are now just starting to sprout. ---ken

  3. If they grow and are edible, it's all good!

  4. The best way to ensure self harvested seed potatoes last until planting is to plant them as late as possible for your area. In KY & TN you can plant as early as mid-March(St. Patrick's Day is often chosen), but as they can be planted as late as early July. The less time in storage the better the quality of the potato whether for eating or planting.

  5. I usually grow about five varieties of potatoes and save set sized potatoes for seed. I do have access to a rootcellar able to hold leftover potatoes into the second winter (I cook these for the chickens.). I do buy new seed for at least one variety every year. My best producers are red dale and norland. Planted extra this year to be sure to have some to share with neighbors who can't grow their own.