Posted in Behind the Scenes, Bookworming, Plants, Progress, Seeds

What’s taters, precious?

One of the potatoes that ended up in our kitchen decided it wanted to be more than just part of an immediate meal on the table.  So instead of cutting out the numerous eyes, I let them be and gave it a home.

I meant to make note of the farm they came from that was marked on the bag because it was actually sort of local, and I did mean to at least look up the place to see what I could learn.  I honestly can’t recall if it was marked organic or not.  I mention this because apparently only in America do commercial growers do something to potatoes that will prevent them from sprouting, but if they are organic this isn’t an issue.   I haven’t researched this out, but it was something I saw mentioned a few times while researching seed potatoes.

I don’t know if was my brain harking back to grade school projects or what, but I had a lidless bell jar that I think was part of the “please take this so we don’t have to put it in the trash” booty from items leftover from the yard sale when a neighbor sold her home.  Said jar was about the right size to temporarily home the spud.  I vaguely recalled something about toothpick supports as I put water in the jar, but the shape and girth of the tater didn’t seem to need the help to prevent it slipping all the way into the jar, so I didn’t grab any to use.

Some time has passed, and this is what it looks like this morning.  Since we are trying to actually start various things indoors this year sometime before the end of the month, as I was browsing various garden bits on the internet, I had a thought that maybe it’s time to do something with this before it grows anymore than it already has.  That led to my researching a bit today and also starting this post.  New words like chitting are now in my vocabulary, and I’m noting it here in case I forget it later.

I want to point out that this was a happenstance of its own making (it forming the eyes), and I didn’t do anything special to try to encourage any of the taters in that bag to sprout.  In my research, I also didn’t see anyone say “Put the eyed potato in water and sunlight”.  As I mentioned above, my brain just decided that on its own, and I’m just happy it kept growing.  I don’t know if this helped or hindered what may come later.

In fact, I’m still trying to understand what I read here:

Well, one of the first jobs of the vegetable growing season is to chit early potatoes. Chitting simply means encouraging or forcing seed potatoes (tubers), to sprout before planting.

It involves putting seed potatoes somewhere light, cool, but frost-free for several weeks while they form short, sturdy shoots. Be warned that those long, spindly white shoots that spuds put out when abandoned in the back of a dark cupboard, do not constitute chitting.

I think the difference is what can be seen above and below the waterline in my image above, but I honestly do not know and will try to plant both and see what happens.  Even if the thinner shoots don’t produce, then maybe I’ll say to myself, “Ah!  Now I get it.”  Still, those thinner white bits came from a developed eye, so…I really don’t know at this point.

Side note, because I had it in the window, it did get a bit of that green sheen (some call it potato sunburn) that so many sites say “don’t eat this because it’s poisonous,” though Snopes and a few others say it’s unlikely the toxin level will be enough to kill you.  Unless, of course, as an adult you plan to eat four pounds of green potatoes at one sitting. It can still make you sick, though:

Ingested in large enough amounts, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and even paralysis of the central nervous system.

The solanine which causes the color is actually a warning to certain creatures (most of which are much smaller than the average adult human) that this plant might make them sick if they eat it, and is most highly concentrated in the leaves.

Something else I learned during all this is that taters are among other nightshade related plants with solanine:

  • potatoes
  • peppers (both sweet and hot)
  • eggplant
  • tomatoes (although some reports indicate tomatoes contain the alkaloid tomatine rather than solanine)

Touching further on the idea of sunburned potatoes, apparently there are loads of suggestions for treating sunburned humans with raw potatoes.  Having grown up in a family with a lot of Irish heritage, and me often being sunburned despite lots of slathering with sunscreen as a child–this is news to me.  We were a solarcaine, aloe gel, and tea bath kind of treatment family.

Getting back to letting this particular tater possibly helping us grow more, though…

I have never tried to actually grow potatoes before, and neither did my grandparents.  So this really is completely new territory for me.

I’ll be cutting this one up later after I shovel the front walkway (which I should have done days ago but my lungs have been protesting the cold air successfully of late and thus limiting such activity).

Hopefully the surfaces exposed from the cutting will “heal” well (also called scabbing on some sites).  What that means is the cut part will develop a bit of a flat sheen and toughness that isn’t quite a new skin but still feels firm and dry to help seal and protect the cut potato from insects more easily snacking on it.  It seems that can take anywhere from 3-4 days from my reading.  I found it most helpful when one video showed this as a comparison between a freshly cut and healed cut that more clearly defined what to look for in a few days.

By then, I should have some containers ready to plant the pieces indoors and then we’ll have another new plant to add to our list this year!

Now that I think on it, if just that one tater from the bag grew eyes, does that make it a sort of volunteer, like when birds disperse seeds?  Hrm.  If you know either way, or have anything to share about seed potatoes, feel free to comment below.

0 thoughts on “What’s taters, precious?

  1. I just cut my seed potatoes in chunks, making sure each piece have “eyes”, and plant them in the ground. I have a bed for only potatoes. I get a nice crop if wild things don’t eat them first! 🙂

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