Growing your own potatoes is fun and easy, which is why it is one crop that almost all new gardeners want to try planting.
Plus, you won’t run out of stuff to do with your harvest—from French fries to mashed, it’s the perfect side dish to have with your protein.
If you think you are up for the task, have you decided where to start? With preparing the seeds for planting, of course!
Is it worth sprouting seed potatoes before planting? It depends on the variety. If it requires sprouting, then getting that done before planting is ideal. Then again, other varieties do not. Potatoes sprouted before planting will be ready earlier than those that weren’t.
Is Seed Sprouting Important?
Seed sprouting is a crucial process that influences how plants grow and produce new leaves. It is done to make your seeds grow better, too.
Basically, the seeds wake up from dormancy and germinate because the temperatures and soil moisture are right for growing.
That said, you have to remember that not all seeds require sprouting.
In the case of potato seeds, it is up to you to decide whether to do it before planting or not. The type of potato you plan on growing also plays a huge factor in this decision.
That said, sprouting potato seeds is easy and does not require too much space. Anyone, even novice gardeners, can do this.
If you decide to do it, your potatoes will have an early start in the garden, and you will have a better chance of a bigger harvest.
Is It Worth Sprouting Potato Seeds Before Planting?
While not all potato seeds require sprouting before planting, there is no one and nothing stopping you from doing it.
After all, sprouting seed potatoes beforehand makes them mature enough to harvest earlier than seed potatoes that are not sprouted.
More than just being easy to do, sprouting potato seeds before planting boasts lots of benefits minus the effort.
For instance, doing so reduces the time needed to grow your potatoes, which will normally take almost eight weeks.
And because late frosts can ruin your potatoes, sprouting the seeds beforehand means you can avoid this risk.
Depending on what you’re comfortable with, you can do it indoors or right outside in your garden.
The best part is that the entire process does not require any fancy equipment. Some do buy a seed sprouting machine, which is not all that expensive, either.
Types of Potato Seeds You Can Sprout
Potatoes can be grouped into two types: determinate and indeterminate.
Determinate potatoes are also called early potatoes because they do not need a long growing season.
In comparison, indeterminate potatoes are also known as late potatoes because they grow much longer.
Indeterminate or late potatoes do not require sprouting because they take a lot of time to grow. You can do it, but it will not have much effect, so you’ll probably just waste your time.
The type of potato seeds you can sprout is the determinate or early potatoes.
It does not need much time growing, so you can easily sprout them and make them grow even faster than other seed potatoes that haven’t been sprouted.
You can sprout potato seeds if you have got the right information and know the different varieties. Examples of the most common potato varieties you can sprout are:
- Cranberry Red
- Gold Rush
Again, these are determinate or early-season potatoes, so you can expect them to grow faster than other varieties.
To give you an idea, the dark blue-skinned with creamy-white fleshed Caribe potatoes are ready to be dug in as fast as 70 days.
On the other hand, Chieftain potatoes can take anywhere from 80 to 110 days to mature. You’ll know they are ready when the vines and foliage around your Chieftain potato patch have died.
Fingerling potatoes need even more time to mature and may take 120 days from planting to harvesting.
The same is true for Gold Rush potatoes, whose harvest time can be anywhere from 110 to 120 days after planting the seeds.
How To Choose Potato Seeds To Sprout
As with any crop, how well the entire process will turn out depends on the quality of the potato seeds you get.
Some are easier to sprout and have much better outcomes than others. You may even find potato seeds contaminated with bacteria!
You can find potato seeds in your nearby supermarket, your local garden store, and even online. Here’s how to determine where and what to buy:
Always consider where you buy your potato seeds.
Regardless of whether you decide to buy your potato seeds from a garden store, supermarket, or online, make sure they source their seeds from a trusted supplier known for quality seeds.
The store must have also paid close attention to how the potato seeds are kept.
Bacterial growth is most active in warm and humid environments, so the store must be well-ventilated and the seed packs properly sealed.
It might be a good idea to get in touch with the local gardeners in your area and ask them for recommendations on where to get good seeds.
You shouldn’t have a hard time looking for local online forums where like-minded individuals flock to share their gardening tips.
Find out the type of potato seeds you are buying.
Normally, you won’t notice the difference between various potato seed varieties because they look almost the same.
To be sure, you must always double-check what is written on the packet or container the seeds come in.
If there is no label, do not hesitate to ask the seller or store about the potato variety you are buying.
Once you know the variety, check online whether it is a determinate or indeterminate potato. This way, you will know whether or not sprouting the seeds before planting will be beneficial.
How To Sprout Potato Seeds
The best thing about sprouting potato seeds early is that you also get to harvest them sooner, up to three weeks earlier if done correctly.
Also called chitting, this process does not call for any fancy tools or complicated steps.
That said, it is worth noting that you will need to do this three to four weeks before you plan on transplanting them in-ground.
Step 1: Put the seeds in a box.
Before anything else, you will want to make sure you have everything you’ll need within arm’s reach so things go smoothly.
Firstly, grab a small box to put the potato seeds in as you wait for them to sprout.
Lay them out in the box, making sure you leave enough space in between to eliminate the risk of contamination in case you have unhealthy seeds.
While any kind of box will do the trick, some prefer using a seed-sprouting machine instead.
If you already have one at home, then there’s no reason why you can’t use that for potato seeds, too.
Step 2: Place the box in a well-lit spot.
Find a well-lit location in your house to put the box in, making sure the sunlight does not hit the seeds directly to avoid burning them.
If that’s not possible, you can use a fluorescent lamp instead.
Next, you will need to wait. While sprouted potato seeds grow quickly in-ground, you will need to be patient and wait for them to sprout first.
Given the right conditions, this process can take anywhere from one to two weeks.
Once you see the “eyes” starting to grow, that’s a good sign to move the box to an area that gets more sunlight.
Then, wait until the sprouts grow to about an inch.
Step 3: Pick the sprouts you will cut.
After you have sprouted your potatoes, you can now decide what you’ll snip. Not all of them will be good enough for planting, so take the time to find healthy ones.
Get the sprouts with two eyes or more, which should weigh around one to two ounces.
If you don’t see any of these two signs, that should tell you it’s not time to cut them yet.
Next, you will need to cure them for a few days, which means leaving them outside or near a window.
This step will help them adjust to the conditions outdoors, giving them more chances of surviving when you plant them in-ground.
By now, you should be able to decide if sprouting seed potatoes before planting is worth the effort.
Even novice gardeners won’t have a problem doing this, so you should be good. Besides, you already know how to do it properly.
Again, if you are growing early-season potatoes or determinate potatoes, then sprouting them before planting them in-ground will be worth it.
Not only will you have an earlier and bigger harvest but also keep your crop safe from the winter frost.
On the other hand, late-season or indeterminate potatoes won’t really benefit from sprouting beforehand because they take longer to grow, so there’s no point in doing it.