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OK, I know from personal experience the dangers of using sprouted store bought potatoes in a garden. I had and entire shared garden plot ruined for both potatoes and tomatoes because the other planter introduced blights that affected both through contaminated spuds. Four years later I still could not keep down the damage and I have no desire to deal with it again, so in my new location I had a successful harvest with certified starters.

My question though, not especially wanting to pay that much each year, if there was no sign of issues is it reasonable to try to save some of the produce from this year to plant in the spring, or is this really too high of a risk and should a grower stick to certified stock each year? I do not want to use spray controls, so if it develops blight issues I will simply quit growing, but as the market product seems to get poorer quality every year I would prefer to grow my own.

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    You might be interested in TPS (true potato seed). It's one way to get cheaper potatoes with less probability of disease passing from the parent (but they require a longer season, since they are literally seeds). They probably won't be predictable the generation you grow them unless you get Zolushka, since potatoes are usually tetraploids, I believe (and thus harder to stabilize). – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Oct 11 '17 at 4:39
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    @Shule TPS option will likely be a miss for me. I am in USDA Zone 3, 90 day average last frost to first frost, so with getting ground warm in Spring to maturity before frost, I will likely need to stick with seed potatoes and even pre-sprouting them for a head start. I might be able to try pot starting seeds inside, but will have to look at the viability of that with a root plant. Once I get my greenhouse up and going, it might be an option. – dlb Oct 11 '17 at 15:41
  • @Shule What is your zone? It can't be much better than 3, yes? Are you growing potatoes right in the ground or are you raising your beds by digging or are you growing vertically (in pots)? What is the pH you use? I've never grown potatoes from seed but I also don't grow potatoes for commercial use. Do you think it is a good idea to 'pre sprout' seed potatoes? I find it makes them more vulnerable for breakage. Raised beds with row cover, pH 5.5, I just plant right in my raised beds. Oh I have a greenhouse to extend my season in zone 1B. That helps for sure. – stormy Oct 12 '17 at 22:13
  • @stormy If you go by record temperatures, it's zone 4, but people tend to say it's higher (5 or 6). We haven't had much success with potatoes in general (even though it's Idaho, granted it's the sugar beet and onion region; not the potato region), and after reading your recent answer to a question, I think it's because the soil is too alkaline (I didn't know they liked acidic soil). That makes a lot of sense. Thanks. I've grown TPS once, but I've researched it a fair amount. I've never grown regular seed potatoes (but a family member has a number of times). So, I can't answer you much, yet! :) – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Oct 13 '17 at 7:37
  • @Shule definitely experiment and update. I am in MT, so a neighbor but at least do have slightly acidic soil, or rock with a little soil between as it were. I have tried to grow in alkaline soil down in AZ and SoCal and potatoes were a complete flop for me there. Alkaline may be as tough on them as poor drainage. It is a reason many grow them directly in mulch or compost, to force to the acidic side, insure drainage and loose growing medium. Inconsistent drainage and soil compacting definitely hurt my yeilds this year, but improving soil should help next year. – dlb Oct 13 '17 at 14:40
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I've done the same thing! Purchasing certified seed potatoes is not a deal breaker! Rotating your crops is crucial. I get my stock from Potato Gardens in Colorado. I have to limit myself purchasing potatoes otherwise I end up with a big bill and those potatoes have to be used immediately. A few years ago my main crop was Potatoes!! Not much room for anything else! I got carried away! I am working on a potato cellar with the correct humidity and temperatures that stay stable...and extend the usable life of my potato crops (and garlic, onions, rutabagas, carrots, fennel bulbs...).

Potatoes and tomatoes are horrible with disease (to include peppers and eggplant). Once you have blight it is a done deal, death and destruction and all of your work, fertilizer, watering...was just wasted. Makes those seed potato expenditures look really CHEAP.

There is no fungicide I would use on my plants my edibles to control this BLIGHT stuff. There is no control. There are ways to reduce exposure to soil containing spores that splash up on the plant and then kill it...lots of work. Pots really work well. Just One spore infects your plants and they are done. And so is that bed for use by the family Solanaceae for a minimum of 2 years! You can see how pots and sterilized potting soil would enlarge your garden and prevent heartache!

I use pots and potting soil for my tomatoes and peppers to enlarge my garden and heck potting soil is sterilized. Potatoes need very acidic soil so creating acidic beds to grow potatoes, blueberries really reduces the amount of space for productive growth of other vegies not liking that low of a pH. Potting soil is easy to get to the proper pH as well. I'll go find my catalog and send you this potato site or you can look them up. Extremely helpful small ma and pa and kids...family business. I've had many discussions with the owners!

Yes, always always always get certified seed potatoes. If you don't you will effectively ruin a bed with disease and that will take longer than a few years to eradicate and be able to plant that family in that bed again. Certified plants, starts, non-gmo seed are worth their weight in gold!

Potato Gardens

Here they are. I've had top notch service from this company. They'll send your order to arrive on whatever date you want. Excellent product, I've not seen one bit of decay and my taters arrived ON THE DAY I asked! Also, the owner's son or nephew...is a soil expert. A real soil expert and they have a product to help reduce the pH of the soil as well as feed soil organisms. A little boost to add to a correct maintenance program. And you can call these potato specialized growers to ask questions! This expanded my 'potato harvest' world and all I can say is the investment is no big deal and the success really is a big deal.

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  • ...and potatoes are one of the easiest, most productive crop to grow for its value. I'd grow more if there were ways to preserve/can/dehydrate. And potatoes produce a harvest within a very very short time! (My favorite is German ButterBall) – stormy Oct 11 '17 at 0:26
  • I will check out Potato Gardens.I at least am fortunate in that my garden has never been worked before and there are none within about a mile so no cross contamination from. Managed to do about 40 dozen ears of corn this year without a single corn borer and no controls I guess one advantage is if I go with more seed spuds, price goes down, but that means a lot more rocks I have to try to remove. Weighing options, but will probably error in favor of safety. Lost most of about 50 tomatoes and 100 row feet of potatoes because of infection at old place and the spores are now there likely forever.. – dlb Oct 11 '17 at 13:45
  • Not a great experience for you either! Don't worry about rocks. Soil is rocks. Little bitty tiny rocks. I only remove fist size or bigger. And I raise my beds by double digging (only once). Potatoes can be grown in pots but I've not done potatoes in pots. I have to tell you my first introduction to blight (late) on tomatoes happened in a virgin garden. 100'X100' garden. Loam yummy soil. No neighbors, no gardens close by at all. I made that garden out of soil that had never seen a vegetable in its life. I took on blight with the master gardeners and had a special experimental garden. – stormy Oct 11 '17 at 19:10
  • ...I tested 5 different ways to protect tomatoes from blight actually infecting the soil on purpose. A combination of pruning the lower leaves of, a mini hoop house and sterilized mulch worked well. – stormy Oct 11 '17 at 19:12
  • @dlb I miss corn. I will not eat corn unless it is non gmo so thus don't eat corn nor can I grow it! I tried, ha ha, got one ONE 3 inch bitty ear. In a past garden life I grew corn that was waist high by the 4th of July and 12 feet high with bright red tassels and loaded with perfect ears of corn. Have company over for dinner and when we started to sit down to the table I'd have them go grab their ears of corn, shuck them themselves, throw them into a kettle with boiling water and in 3 to 4 minutes put them on their plate and eat. Everyone went out to get at least another ear yummmm – stormy Oct 11 '17 at 19:42
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You should start with certified seed potatoes, but you need also establish what the certification means. Does it mean it will grow to produce a certain amount of crop (so has an acceptable level of fungal infection), or does it mean that it has been grown close to tissue culture so it can be certified to be free of virus, bacteria and fungi. See http://www.the-organic-gardener.com/seed-potato.html

If you have grown from truly certified seed potatoes then you can keep using them year after year.

The problem with store bought sprouting potatoes it might have a low level of virus or other infection which spreads poisoning your soil.

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  • I did that this year, Graham. I used spuds produced from certified seed potatoes to grow a few small batches. They produced so so. I'll get fresh seed potatoes again for this next season, but fewer than what I did last year. How do you know if your potatoes from certified are still 'certified' for the second generation? I'll go check your site for sure. Thanks. – stormy Oct 11 '17 at 19:25

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