Potato storage tips

Here are some tips to store your potatoes for eating or over wintering

Different varieties have different dormancy times between harvest and sprouting. Even if a variety has a long dormancy period it may still sprout early if exposed to warm or dry soil, or warm storage conditions.

Storage: tubers for replanting – Even with low dormancy types tubers for replanting can be stored over the winter in a number of ways. There really isn’t a lot of difference between them. You can store them in a dark box with hay or newspaper between the layers, in a cool spot such as your garage or a spare, unheated room in the house. Check regularly to see if they have sprouted. If they start to sprout put them in a light position. Light will keep the sprouts small and nubby for a couple of months.

Or you can just store them in a light or semi light position – I store them in plastic plant pots in my polyhouse. The light will keep the sprouts small. If the tubers get too wrinkly and dehydrated you should plant them out as soon as the worst of winter is over.

Varieties with long dormancy periods (Number 13 and Nellie) aren’t a problem to get over the winter, but it can be a pain to force them to sprout when you want them to. When you plant them without chitting first they will sprout when they damn well want to. It generally isn’t a problem in spring planting, though they will usually sprout after your other varieties, but with the second planting of the year if you plant them without chitting they will sprout over a long period.

It may not be a problem for you if you are happy to harvest over a longer period, but if you want them to sprout all at once you can try forcing them to chit by placing them in a warm place in your home and soaking the tubers in warm (bath temperature) water for 20 minutes every few days until you see sprouts.

Storage: Tubers for eating – There isn’t a lot you can do to stop low dormancy tubers from sprouting when they are ready. As long as they haven’t been kept in the light the tubers will still be good to eat if they have small sprouts. You can stop any sprouts from getting long by spraying them lightly with clove oil which burns off the growing tips of the sprouts. I will try to give some idea of storage times with the tubers I sell. Some may be 20 days, and some could be up to 6 months.

Storage in the ground – You can plant a row of low dormancy potatoes every couple of weeks and harvest as you need them as they become ready until late February (so these last ones are harvested before winter) to keep fresh potatoes on hand. Storage in the ground over winter is not advised as they tend to rot in the wet ground.