Eye on Potatoes

Credit: Patrick Wall

Did you know that if whole, sprouted seed potatoes are planted in the spring, your potato yield will almost double? The tubers themselves may be a bit smaller than if the traditional cut seed potato eyes were used, but the quantity per hill is truly remarkable.

Plant whole potatoes about 12 centimetres deep and 30 centimetres apart in southern B.C., a bit deeper farther north. Use tubers with up to four sprouted eyes – break off the rest. Sprouts that have grown quite long can be gently arranged in the planting hole, even by twisting them in a circle. Not only will they grow, but the sprouts will usually break the surface within a week.

For those who prefer to plant their potatoes early in the season, or for those gardeners who live in colder areas, it is better to use unsprouted, whole potatoes. It takes three to four weeks for the plants to show through the soil, thus avoiding those late spring frosts. New potato foliage can be touched by frost and recover unscathed, provided the plants are still fairly small. However, once the potato plants have grown over 15 centimetres tall, cold damage seems to set them back considerably, resulting in sluggish growth and diminished yields.