-Marcelle, Big Ugly, West Virginia
Our rapidly expanding number of gardeners at Big Ugly Community Center made it necessary to re-figure our allocation of potato seed before distribution. On Thursday, March 26, 2015, forty workshop participants met together to learn about now about Stretching Your Potato Seed. We found helpful information in our new book Basic Organic Gardening alerting us all to keep the basics in mind:
- soil ph between 5.0 and 6.8
- temperature: at least 40 degrees
- temperature below 25 will kill young leaves
- Cut seed potatoes into chunks larger than golf ball size and be sure that each piece has at least 2 or 3 eyes
- Cure pieces by setting them in an airy place for at least 24 hours before planting. Have the cut pieces be a little bit dry and hard on their cut side before planting.
One of our gardeners told the story of how her daddy used to plant potatoes (before the days that you purchased potato seed.) Her daddy would cut the eyes out along with a small chunk of potato. He would plant the potato chunk with 2 or 3 eyes on it and then the rest of the potato would be brought into house to be used in meals for the day. Nothing wasted!
Another gardener told about her accidental experiment with potato peelings. She had peeled potatoes for dinner and put them in the sack and stored them under the sink in a dark, dry location. When she remembered to check on her peelings to take them to the compost, the peelings were covered with eyes. Being careful not to damage the sprouts, she and her husband planted these potato cuttings and had wonderfully big potatoes. They have continued this practice for the last couple of years
Last year, our Big Ugly gardeners harvested over 2,085 pounds of potatoes for 2014. With our growing numbers and our focus on stretching our potato seed, we hope to exceed those numbers in 2015.