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One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes, FOUR: Planting potatoes indoors

  
  
  
Spring is just around the corner and green thumbs everywhere are getting the itch to get out and dig in the dirt.  We can only peruse seed and plant catalogs for so long before the dirt calls our names. What can we do to satisfy the planting craving?  We can plant potatoes indoors!  This is a great project for the whole family, including those budding gardeners who, by now, are bored with all the usual indoor winter activities.  With the exception of the initial cutting of the potato, this is truly a kid-friendly project. 

To get started, you’ll need a few simple supplies:  a deep pot, some potting soil and, of course, a potato that has begun to sprout.


Cut the potato into sections with one or two eyes (sprouts) each.  Make sure each section has enough “meat” with it.  The potato will probably be soft, but should not be mushy or rotten. The sprout will use this portion of the potato to feed on until it begins to grow roots.


Fill a deep pot 1/3 full with potting soil; place the potato section atop the soil and cover with three additional inches of soil.  Water the potatoes and place them in a warm, sunny area.  Soil should be kept at room temperature.  The plant will require about 14 hours of sunlight daily so, if you don’t have enough natural light, florescent lighting is a great supplement to natural light.  Keep the moisture level consistent.  It is possible for a potted potato to suffer from drought which will yield a lumpy spud with a strange texture when cooked.


When the plant is six inches tall, add 2-3 inches of soil.  Continue to add soil as the plant grows until the soil level is about 3 inches from the top of the pot.


Once the plants have flowered, the greenery will begin to turn yellow and die back.  Stop watering at this point to allow the potatoes to mature.  Overwatering at this stage can make the potato mushy.   


'Baby' potatoes may be harvested 2-3 weeks after the plant flowers.  For larger potatoes, wait 2-3 weeks after the tops of the plants have died back.  Using your hands, a small shovel, or a large spoon, carefully turn the tubers up from the dirt. “New” potatoes may be washed and eaten immediately.  If you plan to store your potatoes, spread them out, unwashed, across the top of the soil for 2-3 days to allow the skins to thicken.


You should plan on two to three months from planting to harvest so your potatoes may not be ready for Easter but should be a hit for Memorial Day.  We’d love to see pictures of your DIY spud projects so please send them in.


Happy Planting!


Tobias and Rachael 



DIY: Starting Flowers and Vegetables from Seeds

  
  
  
Hello! I'm Rachael and I've recently joined CM's Custom Lawn & Landscape's landscape division. I am responsible for landscape bed maintenance and, with the help of my cat, Tobias, am writing some do-it-yourself features for our newsletter and blog. If you don't receive our monthly newsletter electronically yet, please go to our website and sign up.

Have you ever started plants from seeds? This is not only a fun and rewarding project, but it is also a great learning experience for kids and can help cut the cost of this season’s flower and vegetable gardens. Here are a few tips from Tobias and me for easy, successful seed growing.

Gathering supplies.
The traditional seed tray filled with potting soil will work just fine for growing seeds, but there are a few products on the market that you may want to consider. One option is peat pellets, sold under several different brand names. It is a pellet made of peat moss that measures about 1”x ½” in size. When you add water, they expand to about 4”x2”. Tobias finds this part absolutely fascinating to watch. They are usually sold along with a tray and a lid to keep the moisture in. I like these because they eliminate the need for potting soil, which can be messy when using indoors.
Another handy product is the peat pot. These are small pots, about 2”-3” in size. You fill these small pots with potting soil and sew the seeds the same way you would in a seed tray. When the time comes for transplanting, simply make a few cuts in the side of the pot and place in the ground. The pots will begin to decompose rather quickly once they are in the soil, giving the roots plenty of room to grow. While Tobias prefers digging the plants by paw out of the traditional seed trays, I like the peat pots because I don’t have to worry about disturbing the root system of the young plant during transplanting.
These products will slightly raise the cost of growing plants from seed, but they make the process a little easier. In addition to these products, there are many others available in the garden centers of just about every hardware store in the area.

Dampening the soil.
Seeds should always be sewn in damp soil. I find the easiest way to achieve the correct moisture level is to use a zip top plastic bag. I start with my potting soil in the bag and slowly add water while mixing it until it is fairly damp, but not dripping.

The right location.
If possible, find a warm spot to keep the seed tray. During germination, warm temperatures are more important than the amount of available light. After germination (when the first leaves come above soil level) sunlight is important, but direct sunlight should be avoided.
We hope you enjoy your seed-starting project. If you have any questions about this or other gardening issues, don’t hesitate to call us or send an email to Rachael at remonico@cmscustomlawn.com.


Happy planting!
Rachael and Tobias
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