Saving Your Own Seed Potatoes

Saving seeds is an important part of being self sufficient. Since potatoes are often an important part of a home garden, it is well worth the time and effort to save your own seed potatoes.

To save your own seed potatoes, select good quality tubers without marks or blemishes from strong, healthy plants. Store them as you would your eating potatoes in a cool, humid place until spring.

How many potato plants do I need to grow? How many seed potatoes do I need to save? This article will help you answer these questions and more, and start you on your way to saving your own seed potatoes.

Choosing The Best Potatoes For Seed Potatoes

Seed potatoes are really nothing special. They are really just a potato that, instead of eating, you plant in the ground to grow more potatoes.

Potato Seeds

Potato seeds are not the same as seed potatoes. Potato seeds are produced from the flower of the potato plant. While you can grow potatoes from these seeds, it is a little trickier, and they won’t necessarily produce the same variety as the mother plant.

At the end of winter, you will probably have several potatoes in the bottom of your potato bin that are soft, wrinkly, and have long shoots. Saving your own seed potatoes is as simple as putting these sprouted tubers into your garden. However, it might be worthwhile to set aside a few potatoes specifically for planting the following year.

Potato eyes by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

After you have harvested your potatoes, you will need to choose which ones to keep as seed potatoes. Select potatoes from good, healthy plants as you don’t want to carry any issues from one year to the next.

Do not save tubers that are blighted, or have nicks or broken skin. These potatoes will not keep and will rot very quickly. (It is best to eat these potatoes right away).

Seed potatoes can be any size. Large potatoes should be cut before planting whereas small seed potatoes should be planted whole.

How Many Seed Potatoes Do I Need To Save?

When saving your own seed potatoes, it is important to know how many tubers to save. As a rule of thumb, 10 plants will provide enough potatoes for one person. This is roughly enough for two meals a week for about 6 months. Save enough seeds so you can plant 12 plants for each person you are providing for (ten for eating and two more for next year’s seeds).

Another way to look at it is for each 450g (1lb) of potatoes you plant, you will harvest 4.5kg (10lbs). In another article, we will go into more details about how to grow potatoes for a whole year.

Saving your own seeds potatoes is a great way to save money, and it also allows you to be more self-sufficient. You will able to grow your own crop, from your own potatoes, year after year.

Preparing Seed Potatoes For Storage

After harvest, potatoes are generally cured so they store longer without sprouting eyes. You want to cure your seed potatoes as well so they do not start growing eyes until you are getting ready to plant them.

To cure get your seed potatoes ready for storage, brush off any excess dirt but do not wash them. Spread them out in a dark area that is fairly humid for 10 to 14 days. They can be covered with burlap or an old sheet to keep them out of the light. Air circulation is important while curing so they don’t get too damp and rot. Spreading them out on a seed tray works well to allow air movement. Check them throughout the process and remove any potatoes that have gone soft or are not curing well, as you don’t want them spoiling the rest of the seed potatoes.

Storing potatoes in paper shreds by Carmen Edenhofer
Image by Carmen Edenhofer

How To Store Seed Potatoes

Store seed potatoes the same way as your other potatoes. Keep them around 10°C (50°F) and fairly humid.

Our preferred method for storing potatoes is in a cardboard box with shredded paper. Punch holes in the box for airflow and then layer the potatoes in lightly packed paper shreds. This is a great way to upcycle your old bank statements and other sensitive documents.

Check on your seed potatoes every month or so to make sure that non have gone bad. remove any rotten ones immediately (and any shreds they were in contact with) as one bad potato can quickly spoil the whole box.