Growing potatoes at home is one of the most rewarding and cost effective vegetables you can grow yourself. Potatoes are a commonly used ingredient with many different dishes. Because they come in many varieties, there’s a huge range of methods potatoes can be used for. For example, Boiled potatoes, Roast potatoes, Mashed potatoes, Fries, the list could go on. So it’s no wonder you’re probably thinking how to grow a potato from an eye?
First of all, we should probably look at what an “eye” actually is.
We have no doubt that you have probably picked out a potato and seen that it’s covered by these little white roots sticking out all over. well the chances are that you either throw that potato away, or thinking nothing of it, and start cutting them out.
Whilst many people discard these little roots, as they’re deemed unuseful (which they are if you’re cooking) they are in fact very useful, especially if you’re thinking of growing your own potatoes. Because these roots are what we call the “eye” of the potato.
Eyes start to appear on potatoes that have been left stagnant for a long period of time, usually well over a week. You shouldn’t be alarmed however, because it’s these sprouts that will eventually grow into stems for new plants to grow from.
The potato vegetable has evolved over many years, to reproduce if the vegetable isn’t harvested. The longer the potato is in the ground, the more likely it is to start growing shoots, in preparation to grow new potatoes which it eventually decays.
And this is exactly how to grow a potato from an eye.
Method On How To Grow a Potato From An Eye?
The method on how to grow a potato from an eye is relatively easy, but may seem daunting due to the time it takes to complete. It takes a fair amount of time for your potato to even sprout roots from the eye, so you will have to be patient with the process. But lets take a close look at the process on how to grow a potato from an eye.
Please rememebr that potato eyes, once planted, need to be water ever other day!
Wait for roots to sprout
First of all, you have to wait to see if your potato will sprout any roots. Not all potatoes will have eyes, which means not all of them will sprout these little white roots. You should place your potatoes in a cool, dry cupboard for about a week.
After a week has passed, you can check to see if the white roots have begun to form. Once you see these roots beginning to sprout, your potato is nearly ready to begin preparation.
Sprouting is a sign that your potato is ready to grow “tubers”. A tuber is the thickened part of the stem of the plant which is underground, for example the potato itself, with little bud from which new potato plant shoots can grow.
Cutting up the potato
Once you have realized that your potato has started to grow the little white roots, you can now start to cut your potato into segments. The longer you leave the roots to grow, the better chance you will have at growing potatoes from an eye.
However it’s useful to point out that if the skin of the potato has started to go green, then the likeliness of a new potato forming is reduced. Green skin on a potato means that it has started to decay and is emitting gasses that are harmful to the vegetable.
But if there’s no green skin then you’re good.
From here you should cut your potato into reasonably sized chunks of roughly 2 inches, each that has a couple of “eyes” or sprouting points. Once completely you should have 4-6 chunks of potato, each with a number of sprouting roots coming out of the skin.
Dry out the potato eyes
You should place your chucks of potato back into the cool, dry place in which it was previously housed. You want to leave your chucks for at least 24-48 hours, until most of the moisture has evaporated out of the potato.
Once the potato has dried out, you shouldnt be able to feel any moisture on the outside, and it should feel a little rubbery when you squeeze it.
We do this because dry chunks of potato produce the best results. When the potato chunks are dehydrated, most of the starch will be removed too. Then once they are planted, the potato will be able to soak up as much water and nutrients as possible.
Planting the potato eyes
The following day, you will need to find an adequate container or pot to plant your potato eyes. The container should be a minimum of 13 gallons, as potatoes need a lot of room to grow into.
(You should make sure that your container or pot has holes at the bottom of it, which will let any excess water drain out the bottom).
Fill the bottom of the container with dirt and compost soil until it’s about 3-4 inches deep. From here you want to grab your chunks of potato and place them into the container, pressing them firmly into the dirt.
The cut edges should be the sides which you press into the dirt, with the potato eyes and roots pointing upwards towards the sky.
From here you can cover the chunks of potato in another 2-3 inches of dirt and soil, until they are completely covered.
Once the potato eyes have been completely covered, you now have to water them, and decide on where to place your container. The planted potato eyes will need full days of sun if possible for the best possible growth.
If this is something that cannot be achieved in your space, then choose a location which will get the most amount of sun throughout the day.
Stem pushing through
After about a week or two, you should start to see the potato stems starting to push out from the soil. Once the stem has breached the surface, the plant will begin to leaf, confirming that the potatoes have started growing underneath.
The stem will grow strong, however we recommend that you continue to put extra soil around the stem as the plant grows bigger. This is just to further protect the potato itself from surprise weather elements, or pests which may try to dig it up.
Fertilizing the potato
In order to make your potatoes grow as best as possible, you will have to use an organic blooms fertilizer. Any blooming fertilizer should be a high phosphorus fertilizer that will help to develop the roots quicker or stronger, thus producing better quality potatoes.
We recommend using an organic fertilizer as this will not compromise the taste or quality of your potatoes. After all, you will most likely be harvesting these to eat from the garden. Non organic fertilizers contain chemicals to prolong the life expectancy once harvested, so they can be cleaned, stansported, packed and resold before they’re past their best.
Wait for harvest
When you grow a potato from an eye, they need to be watered every other day. It’s very important to keep this up because potatoes need a lot of water to grow healthy. A lack of water will reduce the quality and size of each potato.
Potatoes will flower around midsummer, but this can adjust if there is a warmer spring than usual. Likewise it can be later if there was a colder spring than usual. Once your potato plants begin to flower, this is a sign which means you can start to harvest if you wish.
The earlier you harvest the potatoes the smaller they will be, but once the plant starts to flower, you should have baby size potatoes. But if you don’t harvest them, and leave them in the ground then you will get much bigger potatoes.
The potato plant will eventually turn yellow, and begin the flop over. This means that the life cycle is over. The plant has become detached from the potato, which means you can pull the plant straight from the soil, without the potato coming with it.
Once all the yellow plants have been removed you can then start digging for your potatoes. The soil will be rich in nutrients which is great for replanting another lot of potatoes, or equally as good for using as a mixture of soil for any other vegetables that you may want to grow next.
Washing the potatoes
The last thing you will need to do is wash your potatoes. You should allow your potatoes to be submerged in cold water for about 30 minutes. This will loosen up any remaining dirt and kill off any pesticides which may be hanging on to the potato.
Once the potatoes have been thoroughly washed, you can then use a towel to dry them, and store them as you please, either in the fridge, or a cool dry location of your choice.
When To Start Growing a Potato From An Eye?
What time of year you start planting your potato eyes really depends on when you want to harvest them. There are different varieties of potatoes that can be planted as early as mid March, which will be ready to harvest by the beginning of July.
In most cases, you want to be planting your potato eyes anywhere between mid March and mid May. This means that you will have potatoes growing at their peak time, ready to eat throughout the summer period.
Potatoes grow best in the months of late spring, and should be ready to harvest in the opening weeks of summer. You can plant your potato eyes earlier or later, if you want to elongate your harvest period, however the quality of the potato may be reduced due to environmental conditions.
Early Season Growing potatoes
There are a few potato varieties that can be grown early and still produce great quality potatoes. Some varieties you can look into are; Red Duke of York, Lady Christl, Oral and Rocket potatoes.
These can all be planted as early as mid March for the best results.
Mid Season Growing Potatoes
The mid season is basically the generic season for growing potatoes. However there are a huge number of potatoes to choose for this growing period, which range from; Princess Laratte, Purple Majesty, Red Pontiac, Magic Molly, Yukon Gold, Vivaldi, Accent, Jazzy and Winston potatoes.
These can all be planted around the middle of April, ready for harvest in summer.
Late Season Growing Potatoes
Finally there are a number of potato varieties that can be grown late into summer which will grow ready for Autumn and Winter. These varieties are; German Butterball, King Harry, Purple Puruvian, Carola and Desiree potatoes.
These can all be planted in the mid summer, which will be ready to harvest around mid November time.
When To Feed Your Growing Potato Eye?
When growing a potato from an eye it’s very important that you feed it all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy. Watering a planted potato eye simply isn’t enough to produce healthy quality potatoes.
The best nutritional feed for your potato plant is tomato feed. You can use the instructions exactly how they are stated on the pack, to feed your potato plants. Using a general purpose plant feed is still okay, however it is not recommended as it encourages a much larger foliage growth, which isn’t necessary.
You should feed your potato plants ONCE EVERY 2 WEEKS with the tomato feed, for the best results.
Your potato plant may start to flower early, depending on the recent weather conditions, and although early flowering isn’t going to harm the quality of your potatoes, it will extend the time in which they grow.
The reason for this is that a lot of the energy is being used to bloom the flowers, instead of growing the potato (which is the end goal). In order to conserve as much energy as possible for potato growth, you should pick off the flower heads when you see them starting to form.
It is worth mentioning that when potato plants flower, they are quite attractive, so it’s not a necessity to remove them. Especially if you want an aesthetically pleasing garden to look at too. When the flowers are pollinated, they produce berries, which encompass potato seeds. Naturally these berries will fall off and the seeds will be scattered onto the surrounding area, ready to reproduce potatoes the following year.