Sprouting potatoes are a fantastic sight to behold and there are a number of reasons why a potato may sprout, but sometimes you want to speed the process up and make your potato sprout now!
Luckily, we’ve created a handy guide that explores everything about sprouting potatoes.
We’ll look at why they sprout, how long it may take for a potato to sprout, how you might speed that up and ways you can use these sprouts for growing.
So, if you want to know more – join us below!
Why Do Potatoes Sprout?
There are a number of reasons why a potato sprouts. One way that potatoes sprout is when they’re exposed to air.
This is because their cells have been damaged by the environment in which they grew.
The cell walls of the potato become weak and vulnerable to moisture loss, so as soon as the potato has been damaged, it will start to dry out and begin to produce new shoots.
Potato sprouts also grow very quickly when compared to other vegetables. They only need around 2-3 days to reach full size after being planted.
Another reason why potatoes sprout is due to the fact that they contain an enzyme called alpha amylase.
When this enzyme comes into contact with starch, it breaks down the starches into sugars.
Additionally, potatoes will sprout when exposed to natural or artificial light, warm conditions and moist conditions.
However, perhaps the least known sprouting technique for home-growers is by placing potatoes near other fruits or some vegetables like onions which seems to accelerate the process.
How Long Does Potato Sprouting Take?
It usually takes between 1 and 3 weeks for the whole process to complete but of course this will be dependent on its surroundings and conditions.
If you place potatoes in direct sunlight, it will probably take less time than if you keep them away from the sun.
If you live somewhere where the temperature fluctuates wildly throughout the year, it may be more difficult to say a time-frame of sprouting.
It’s important to remember that potatoes are a tuber. They have enough nutrients within them to allow for new growth and do not rely on soil.
Sprouting Potatoes For Growing – How To Do It
It’s best that we look at how you might sprout your potatoes for growing.
Get A Sprouting Tray Or Box
Place your seed potatoes eyes up and with a small gap between them which allows for extra growth and make it easier for you to pick them up.
The next critical part of sprouting potatoes is exposing them to light. You could place your sprouting box near a window or even place a lamp over the top of them.
Whichever you choose, it should speed up the spouting of your potatoes.
Can I Speed Up Sprouting Any Other Ways?
Yes, there are many methods you can try to speed up the sprouting process. Here are just a few:
The Shock Method
There are many growers who will swear by this method.
In short, it’s a theory that you “shock” your crop by exposing them from one extreme to the next, promoting rapid growth.
Genetically, it is a similar theory to human diets which are designed to promote rapid weight loss.
To do this method with your potatoes, you should do the following:
- Place the potatoes in a dark and preferably damp area. A refrigerator that is not frequently used is ideal for this, or a refrigerator that has no light.
- After around 2 weeks, remove the potatoes and put them into the complete opposite environment, full of light and warmth. Ideally, this will be through natural sunlight, but artificial lights work fine.
- You should start to notice rapid growth of potato sprouting
The Ethylene Effect
We mentioned this slightly earlier when we mentioned you can put potatoes near other fruits and vegetables.
Well, this is known as the ethylene effect. Ethylene is a gas that most vegetables and fruits produce.
If you place a potato with, for example, some onions, in a plastic bag – you can expect the ethylene effect to speed up the sprouting.
Are Potato Sprouts Dangerous?
The sprouts themselves are toxic because they contain a toxic compound called solanine, which is a natural chemical produced by the potato to deter pests.
Unfortunately for us, this means it is also toxic to us.
If you’re handling a sprouted potato, you should ensure you’re wearing protective gloves, mask and goggles.
Can I Eat A Sprouted Potato?
You can eat a potato after it has sprouted, as long as you remove the sprouts fully, remove any green areas, and you can feel the potato is firm.
Do not try to consume a soft, raw potato and do not eat a green potato.
If you do consume solanine, you may find you get the following symptoms:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Death in extreme cases
You may find that the potato tastes bitter after it has sprouted, even after cutting the sprouts off it.
Don’t worry, it should still be okay – but might taste unpleasant.
Why Grow Potatoes
Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates and nutrients.
They are high in vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, calcium and folate.
They are low in fat and sodium and have very little cholesterol.
Potatoes are easy to grow and maintain. Most varieties need between 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive.
It is recommended that you plant potatoes between April and June, when temperatures are warm enough to encourage germination.
Potatoes can be enjoyed by many, including livestock – so if you’re running, or thinking of running, a farm, potatoes may be just the crop you need.
The Bottom Line
There are a few ways to sprout a potato if you do not wish to wait for nature to take its course.
Just remember to be careful with them and if you do feel sick after handling sprouted potatoes, contact medical assistance immediately.