Do you know when you forget about that big bag of potatoes you put in the pantry at home and discover it weeks later to find it started sprouting? This situation isn’t always a bad thing and is something for you to use to your advantage if you love homegrown veggies. Learning how to plant potatoes from eyes is a quick and effective way to turn old potatoes into new potatoes.
Growing potatoes from eyes is something that anyone can do. It doesn’t take special equipment or involve planting seed potatoes to start growing potato plants from eyes right at home.
If you’re interested in growing potato plants, all you need is a bag of potatoes from the grocery store.
Of course, when going on any new gardening adventure, growers have tons of questions like when to plant them during the growing season and how long before it is safe to harvest them.
Home gardeners should read this article to learn how to get potatoes to sprout eyes and plant them in the garden for a fall harvest.
Things to Know before Growing Potatoes from Eyes
Grocery store potatoes and all the other potato plants worldwide came to America around 400 years ago. However, they have been cultivated for more than 7,000 years.
Potatoes originate from Bolivia and Peru, where a lot of wild strains still exist. With over 4,000 varieties to choose from, it can be an overwhelming decision when you start figuring out how to plant potatoes from eyes.
One of the most important things to decide before you plant potatoes is what potato varieties you’re interested in. Heirloom varieties help keep the roots disease-free and are usually best to grow at home.
Russet, Yukon Gold, and Fingerling are some of our favorites, but there are plenty of other options if you prefer small potatoes, larger potatoes, or specific textures.
Once you decide what potatoes to grow, you are ready to start chitting. Chitting is when you pre-sprout your spuds to get a head start on the growing process. If you’re growing potato plants from eyes, you’re already practicing chitting.
How to Plant Potatoes from Eyes
Are potatoes with eyes bad to use? Sprouted potatoes are still safe to eat, but the eyes release glycoalkaloids, a compound that turns sprouting potatoes green.
This green color is sometimes toxic if you eat too much. If your spuds are sprouting, use them to start planting potatoes in a raised bed or traditional garden beds.
Growing potatoes from eyes is a fun activity that gets you a head start on the growing season if you live in zones where the early spring gets hot too fast and becomes one of many inhibitors.
It takes a little more space and time, but it is well worth it since you aren’t growing tons of potatoes at home.
Growing Potato Plants from Eyes
The timing of planting potatoes is important, and the ideal time to put them in the ground or grow potatoes in buckets is in early spring, about two to four weeks before the last frost you expect for the year. The process of chitting potatoes starts about four weeks before planting occurs.
The way to grow potatoes from scraps starts when you either use old potatoes at home or you purchase some potatoes from garden centers or a grocery store. Observe each potato until you find the one with the most eyes. Now it is time to learn how to get potatoes to sprout eyes.
Place small potatoes in a single layer in egg cartons or boxes. Place the seeds in a warm and dark place that remains around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The potatoes break their dormancy during this time and start greening.
After about two weeks in this warm place, move them to a colder location, about 50°F, with only a little bit of light to make the tubers turn green and healthy. After three weeks, there are lots of sprouts shooting out of the potatoes.
Planting Potatoes with Eyes
Separating the tubers from the potatoes is the first step in growing potatoes from eyes. Cut your potato tuber from the whole potato. Find an area in your garden bed that receives full sun and has plenty of drainage.
Potatoes should make it as long as the soil temperature consistently remains above 45°F. Add mulch to the beds after planting them if you’re concerned about the weather dropping.
Is planting potatoes eyes up or down preferred? Dig a trench in your beds six to eight inches deep, and place them cut side down or eyes up into the ground. Cover them with the full six to eight inches of soil that you dug up.
How fast do potatoes grow? It really depends on the variety, but it generally takes about 90 days.
Using Hilling on Potatoes
Spacing for potatoes is around 12 inches apart. Potato soil depth is important, too. They must be covered with a minimum of three inches of potting soil to survive.
Most potatoes benefit from hilling. Once the shoots reach about ten inches tall, scoop extra soil around the plants so it forms mounds. These mounds protect the plants and keep the tubers covered until they are ready for harvest.
Problems with Growing Potato Plants from Eyes
Potatoes are a good plant to grow in your garden, but there may be some difficulties that you have to face along the way. Colorado potato beetles are one of the most significant pests to potato plants.
The adults are smaller than a golf ball, and they lay their eggs on the plants. Their larvae overwinter under the soil. Put crop rotation into place so potatoes aren’t planted in the same location every year.
Harvesting potatoes is the fun part of the process when all your hard work and patience have paid off, and you finally get to dig the roots up and make something delicious.
Gently loosen the soil around the entire potato plant in early fall and remove the roots from the soil. The way to know when potatoes are bad is by feel and smell. Spoiled potatoes are wrinkly, slimy, and stink. Make sure to wash the potatoes before cooking with them.
Use your preferred method to cook the bacon and crumble it into small pieces once it cools. Pour some of the fresh bacon grease into a large pan and heat it over medium-high heat.
Add the potatoes to the pan and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese and bacon over the potatoes and mix everything until the cheese melts. Pour the potatoes into a large serving dish and sprinkle the fresh green onions over the top.
Potatoes are a hardy veggie, and it’s hard to imagine some of our favorite home cooked meals without them. Growing potato plants from eyes is a shortcut in the garden and an easy way to save some time and money.
If learning how to plant potatoes from eyes has made you enjoy gardening more, share these tips for growing potatoes from eyes on Facebook and Pinterest.