Table of contents:
- How to select seed potatoes correctly?
- Preparing seed potatoes for storage
- Storing seed potatoes
- Storing seed potatoes without a cellar
Video: How To Select, Prepare And Store Seed Potatoes Correctly?
Everyone understands that a full-fledged potato crop can only be obtained from high-quality tubers that have been selected and stored for planting in the right conditions. Of course, you can always buy seed potatoes in one of the farms that are engaged in obtaining and selling them, but this is quite expensive, so the gardener often solves this problem himself. So, let's talk about the technology of selection of seed potatoes, their preparation for storage, as well as storage itself, as detailed and understandable for each reader as possible.
In fact, in order for seed potatoes to last without spoilage until the period when they require planting, you need to follow, in fact, simple rules - to harvest the crop from the site in a timely manner, choose the largest and most well-developed tubers and put them aside in advance, without mixing with others, but to organize the storage correctly, i.e. so that it has suitable temperature and humidity for the preservation of seed potato tubers.
How to select seed potatoes correctly?
For some unknown reason, some gardeners believe that seed tubers should be selected from the total mass of potatoes not in autumn, but in spring, almost right before planting, that is, before germination. However, both your humble servant and other experts in their field strongly recommend starting to select seed material not even during digging, but even ahead of time - paying attention to the plants themselves, to the intensity and degree of their flowering.
There is nothing completely difficult to walk around the site and select the strongest, lush and most well-developed potato bushes and mark them with ribbons or stick pegs nearby. Why is this needed? Well, of course: once the tops are powerful, it means that the tubers will be large, and the plants will be resistant to diseases and pests in the future, that is, they will have solid immunity.
Digging up potato tubers
For digging tubers from bushes intended for seed purposes, it is necessary to handle the skin as carefully as possible, since it is quite easy to damage it. In order for the peel to become as rough as possible and more or less resistant to damage during digging, it is necessary to cut the tops of such bushes with a pruner at a height of 12-14 cm a couple of weeks before digging.
You need to harvest from such bushes only with a pitchfork, with ordinary five-toothed teeth: this will minimize the risk of damage to tubers. Immediately after digging, a careful examination should be made for damage, rot, etc. Then (if everything is normal) the tubers, after drying, are sent straight to the seed bag.
Seed potato selection rules
Typically, tubers are selected for seed from those bushes from which at least seven, and preferably eight or more potatoes were selected. At the same time, at least four potatoes must weigh more than a hundred grams (after long-term winter storage, shrinkage up to 80 or 90 grams is permissible, no more). If, under the bush, which, perhaps, was actively developing, turned out to be rather small tubers, then it is better to put them into processing, since the degeneration of the variety is evident (alas, this happens).
We do not recommend leaving potatoes for seeds, albeit large and healthy, but in the same hole with which there were rotting tubers, since the infection may spread in the future.
Those potatoes, which are completely devoid of flaws, must be left directly in the sun for a couple of hours, after an hour turned over to another barrel, and then brought under a shed to keep there for 4 - 5 hours for complete drying.
Preparing seed potatoes for storage
Considering that even with careful digging and the most careful handling of seed potatoes, traces of damage could still remain on its peel, it is necessary to wait for the so-called healing period before storing it, which is necessary for healing, tightening, and smoothing out small wounds on the tubers. This period should be quite long, up to 14 days, and all this time, seed potatoes must be stored under a canopy with access to light, but without access to moisture. The room (shed), where the seed potatoes are being treated, must be dry and the temperature must be maintained in it at a level of 19-20 degrees above zero.
The layer of laying seed potatoes should be no more than ten centimeters, only in some cases, when there are a lot of potatoes, the layer can be doubled. Once a day, the potatoes must be turned over gently with gloved hands, ideally they should turn green on all sides. It is clear that seed potatoes cannot be eaten, there is quite a lot of poison in it - solanine. Of course, in order to be fatally poisoned, you need to eat a lot of such potatoes, but malaise and indigestion can happen. The advantage of potatoes processed in this way is that it acquires greater immunity, is stored longer and is extremely rarely damaged by rodents.
As soon as this treatment period ends, the seed potatoes are inspected again, determining whether the damage, if any, has healed (and the completely spoiled tubers are simply disposed of).
To enhance immunity, ensure the storage duration and increase the germination of the seed tuber, it can be treated with any fungicidal preparation. For example, gardeners speak well of the drug Maxim, and if you absolutely do not want to get involved with chemistry (and maybe this is correct), then process the potatoes with 0.02% copper sulfate. Preparing the solution is very simple: only two grams of copper sulfate dissolve in a bucket of water. Treatments are carried out from a spray bottle so that the surface of the potato is moistened on both sides, so it is difficult to write the exact rate of consumption of the working solution: let's say a bucket of 4-5 square meters (here it depends on the thickness of the stacking layer and on the weight of the potato, and so on).After treatment with a fungicide or copper sulfate, immediately before storing seed potatoes, it is imperative to dry them on both sides.
Storing seed potatoes
You can store seed potatoes, as is often done, in the cellar, loggia (balcony), or right on the street, if there is no cellar or space for its construction.
Preparing the cellar for storage
First, you need to disinfect the cellar, remove all harmful insects that can attack such a valuable potato, then remove all mold spores. In general, the cellar should be in perfect condition about 25-30 days before planting the seed potatoes.
Much depends on what material the cellar is made of. For example, if the walls of the cellar are brick, then they (and the ceiling too) must be whitewashed with a solution of lime (to prepare the solution, you need to dilute about three kilograms of lime in a bucket of water and add 25-30 g of copper sulfate). After whitewashing, the cellar must definitely dry, for this the vents are opened, as well as the door - in general, it is necessary to create a draft, otherwise the cellar can dry for a long time.
If the cellar is wooden, as well as if it is brick, but has wooden parts (racks, shelves, etc.), it is necessary to process it from a spray bottle with a dark solution of potassium permanganate, copper sulfate (you can take more vitriol up to 100 g per liter of water). Gardeners also advise using tobacco broth (for its preparation you need only 50-60 g of tobacco dust or good old shag for just a liter of water). Then this composition must be allowed to brew for a day, and with the help of a paint roller from above and below, process all wooden boxes, shelves, bins, etc.
If there are shelves in the cellar that can be dismantled and brought to the surface, then it is better to disinfect them in the open air, and at the same time inspect in what condition they are. If severe rot has begun, then it is better to replace the wooden shelves with new ones of the appropriate size. But even new ones must also be disinfected.
A special attitude to earthen floors in cellars - we advise you to fill them with fluffy lime no more than a centimeter thick.
Pay attention to the walls: you noticed mold spots, the best option is to mercilessly burn them out with a blowtorch. Look into every crack, rodents could have penetrated and lurked into them, in order to eliminate unpleasant consequences, all the cracks must be sealed with cement with the addition of broken glass, better not window glass, but bottle glass. All ventilation openings, in order to prevent rodents from entering through them, must be sealed with fresh metal nets and it is better not to fix them on wires, but to weld them securely.
In some cases, fumigation will not hurt. The best option is fumigation with a sulfur checker, there are a lot of varieties, there are instructions on the package, select it based on the volume of your cellar.
In addition to fumigating with a sulfur stick, you can disinfect the room with lime: first you need to tightly close all the ventilation holes, then pour quicklime into a couple of buckets of water, and preferably not in powder, but in lumps, counting a couple of kilograms per ten cubic meters of the room. This is followed by the lime carefully and slowly pour water, being in rubber gloves, a respirator and goggles, and leave the cellar as soon as possible, tightly closing the door. In this form, the cellar should stand for a couple of days, then it will be possible to open the ventilation and the door and leave it there for two days, after which you can enter the cellar in a respirator, assess the situation and remove the respirator.
Storing seed potatoes in the cellar
For the correct preservation of seed potatoes in the cellar, it is imperative that the temperature there be stable and within + 2 + 4 degrees Celsius both day and night. If the temperature begins to drop, then the starch contained in the seed potato tubers will very quickly begin to turn into sugar (the tubers will become sweet), if the temperature drops below negative values, the potato will freeze fatally. When the temperature rises, sometimes only a couple of degrees, the potatoes will begin to grow significantly ahead of time and the sprouts will break off either when planting or in the storage itself. As a result, they will be replaced for a long period by sweat from dormant kidneys.
The ventilation system is also obligatory in the cellar: with skillful handling of it, you can deftly regulate the temperature in the room, in addition, without ventilation at all, there is a risk of so-called asphyxiation of the planting material and its sputtering.
Further - the humidity, its lower limit is 70%, if the humidity is lower, then the tubers will corny begin to dry out and wither, actively evaporating moisture. It will be possible to raise the humidity level by bringing snow, buckets of water into the storage, turning on ventilation on a snowy day and maintaining it at 80-85%.
Container for storing seed potatoes
Usually, seed, valuable potato material is best and most conveniently stored in boxes with lattice sides and the same bottom. This will allow air to circulate freely. The boxes should not be placed close to each other - the distance should be equal to 12-15 cm, but in rooms that are insignificant in volume, they can be moved closer.
Little secrets when storing seed potatoes in the cellar
If you are afraid of premature sprouting, then do not sprinkle seed potatoes with a layer of more than 30 cm.
Once or twice during the winter, try to find the time and go through all the seed potatoes, and if you notice any potatoes with filaments or nodules, just throw them away.
If shoots appear ahead of time, try not to break them off, they can be cut off with scissors or pruning shears. Why? Each peephole of a potato has three buds, if we roughly break off the first sprout, then we may well kill two spare buds, simply by pulling them out of the nest. It is clear that the first pruning of the sprouts will reduce the yield by up to a third, and twice - up to half, that is, there is nothing good in this.
If you want to slow down the development of sprouts that have appeared ahead of time, then buy ordinary dry mint at the pharmacy and put a small handful in each box with sprouts. Some people generally fall asleep whole boxes of dried mint, but I conducted such an experiment - there is not much difference.
Nor can we protect seed potatoes from all pathogenic microorganisms. And if such appear, then it is necessary to add dry wormwood to the boxes - 100 grams in each box, you can also use dry or dried rowan leaves. For half a ton of potatoes, you need five kilograms of "grass".
Storing seed potatoes without a cellar
We divide this category into two parts - those who store seed potatoes right at home and those who are on the soil of their summer cottage.
Storing seed potatoes at home
You can't save a lot of potatoes here, usually as many boxes as a heated balcony can accommodate, on which you can adjust the temperature, as we wrote above (+ 2 + 4 degrees and humidity about 80%).
Storing seed potatoes on site
First you need to choose the highest place on the site, i.e. something where the groundwater certainly won't get. Next, you need to dig a hole 35-40 cm deep, always with inclined sides. Then the walls should be sheathed with any insulating material. It can be brushwood, straw, pieces of poles, croaker, and throw more dry grass or, much better, branches of conifers on the bottom.
Further, seed potato tubers are poured into the moat, prepared according to the technology described in detail above. Straw 40 centimeters thick is laid on top of them, and then over the ditch they make something like a hut of poles and branches. Ideally, the volume of such a hut (shelter) should be equal to about a third of the volume of the ditch in which the potatoes lie, this is necessary for full respiration of the tubers.
The resulting wooden frame, or a hut, as it is more convenient to call it, must be covered with a layer of straw twenty centimeters thick, and then pour 15 centimeters of loose soil, throwing chunks up. The ends, which are certainly formed at such a hut, must be plugged up with straw as tightly as possible and sprinkled with loose soil, compacting it with a shovel.
This method of storage is good because you don't need to carry seed potatoes anywhere, and the disadvantage is that when you come to the country house, you can see either rotten tubers, or partially rotted ones, or … their complete absence on the site.
That's all we wanted to tell you about in this article, if you have any questions, please ask.