I have two or three potato plants growing in my compost pile. I'm pretty sure they are some red potatoes I tossed after they got too old. I bought them from a local organic produce store.

potatoes: Boil'em, mash'em, stick'em in a stew

The plants look pretty healthy (to my untrained eye). What should I do with them, considering I want to grow some potatoes this year.

  1. Kill them.

    I'd generally prefer to grow potatoes from known good potato stock intended for such a purpose, but considering they're grown from organic potatoes, is there much risk?

  2. Protect them in the compost pile so I can harvest them there later.

    This could be a bit of a hassle, considering I continue to add to the compost pile. I also wonder if growing in the compost pile directly might not be best for the potatoes--would they be happier in regular soil?

  3. Transplant them to my main garden area for a real potato harvest later.

    I'm not sure how realistic this is... I suspect this would basically amount to harvesting the (likely small/immature?) potatoes, and planting them anew in my garden. At this point, I may as well buy some actual seed potatoes, right?

  4. Something else?

  • 1
    My Mum has a massive compost heap - well, corner of garden where she chucks stuff - and every year it grows a lot of great pototoes, some of them enormous, all by itself. So I would regard them as free veges for no effort, and if they die, no loss either. Actually, I just thought of one possible problem - if they do get diseased, then your compost will essentially be contaminated and wouldn't be able to be used for other potatoes, but all the nutrients in your compost pile should help develop healthy plants with better disease resistence.
    – standgale
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 21:00

3 Answers 3

  1. Organic probably isn't well-correlated with whether the potatoes are carrying any disease or not. This is the primary reason that you want good potato seed stock, whether conventional or organic. I've grown my own organic potatoes and had them get full of blight, but was still able to harvest some edible potatoes. While they were edible (and probably would have been marketable if I were selling), they would not be something you'd want to save for seed.

  2. Letting them be probably wouldn't do much harm. It's up to you if you want to deal with the hassle of adding to the pile while the potatoes are growing there. I've heard of plenty of people growing potatoes under straw, so they don't need soil. They look pretty healthy to me, and will probably give you some tasty taters.

  3. I wouldn't bother trying to transplant. Doesn't seem like it has much chance given the effort involved.

  • I think I'll try for #2. Thanks.
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 22:30

When this happens to me I just let them grow where they are. But I had enough space int he past to move the compost pile and let them grow.


Let them grow and harvest them. See what they look like. Sometimes gardening is using what nature gives you.

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