You Can’t Grow Store Bought Potatoes – The Myth That Costs You Money

That handsome plant in between my goat horn pepper plant I started in the Spring and my four year old fig tree is a purple potato plant I started about two weeks ago. I did not start it from a “seed” potato or do anything special to it, I just threw a whole purple potato that had a little bud sprouting on it into a container of Miracle-Gro that had already been used for a plant that didn’t survive transplanting.  The potato itself came from a bag of potatoes I got from Costco.

Now according to Internet wisdom this non-organic evil corporate potato should not have grown at all – because greedy corporations genetically modify them to be sterile and spray them with inhibitors while worshiping Moloch and plotting world domination. But like so much else on the Internet this is a myth. This particular myth is costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

I bought into this line too, though I should have known better since as a kid in elementary school I sprouted a store bought potato. But a couple of months ago I was throwing out some small red potatoes that were sprouting when I decided to throw caution to the wind and plant two “eyes” in some extra pots I had. Both plants grew and I actually dug one up early because I couldn’t wait to see what was going on under there. The result were astounding! From one piece of potato I was going to throw out I got 11 good sized potatoes – and there were about eight more tiny ones which needed more time. The second plant is starting to die back and is almost ready and I just planted two more.

The problem here is the Internet which is largely a cut and paste affair. I should knowbecause much of the freelance writing I do shows up in dozens of forums and on hundreds of websites (often without attribution) by people who agree with something I said and simply copy the article in it’s entirety and stick it somewhere. With gardening advice things work the same. Whatever the first “hit” on Google says will appear on hundreds or thousands of other websites which in turns makes that information, good or not, seem authoritative.

But think about this – what if you were able to grow 11 or so potatoes from every potato you ever threw out because it was going soft? How much money would you save over a lifetime?

How much money could you save buying on sale potatoes at big boxes rather than “seed” potatoes?

Now I’m not saying the farmer should use a bag of potatoes from the supermarket or that I know more about growing potatoes than anyone else. What I’m saying is that I decided to experiment in my garden and I was rewarded. I didn’t just accept the advice people dole out on the web, I found out if it was true for myself. I decide to test this myth of ungrowable store potatoes and found out it was just a myth.

I suspect that there are lots of similar myths floating around that we accept and some, like this one, can lead people to throwing money away. This is why it’s important to get out in the garden and see what works for yourself. Reading books and articles and blog posts are great ways to start learning what you need to know about growing plants, or hunting, or living off the land but they are always just first steps. Experience is the greatest teacher and you gain experience by trying things out for yourself.

So don’t take my word for it,throw some old potatoes in the dirt and see what happens.

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5 Responses to You Can’t Grow Store Bought Potatoes – The Myth That Costs You Money

  1. Pingback: You Can’t Grow Store Bought Potatoes – The Myth That Costs You Money > Prepper Report

  2. Trish Deneen says:

    That’s how my grandparents grew things. I understand where the anti-GMO people are coming from but they sometimes are disconnected from the economic reality of the average prepper. I started my potatoes from non-GMO, heirloom seed potatoes but I don’t have any moral issue with experimenting this way. I just want people to start prepping. They don’t have to be PC about it.

  3. Trish Deneen says:

    Meant to add how awesome that growth is for 2 weeks.

    • admin says:

      The growth is surprising. Purple potatoes seem to like the environment here. My other potatoes grow slower.

  4. kris says:

    I have read in countless places this as well. But it didn’t make much sense to me in principal.

    First, diseases on a potato farm would reduce crop yield and financially hurt the farmer, who has a lot more to lose than a backyard gardener like me. They likely spend thousands on disease and pest management. While their potatoes are not certified I would wager that they do their best to ensure that their potatoes are disease free. If they sold a hung tones of potatoes with black heart they wouldn’t be getting an order next year.

    Second if the potatoes are sprouting then there’s obviously not something sprayed on them retarding growth. If your potatoes lasted forever on your pantry shelf then you would be buying less potatoes. It is counterintuitive for them to keep them from sprouting and maturing not unlike how cigarette companies add a oxidant to keep it burning if you forget it in the ashtray.

    Third it is obvious that farmers would only use the best yielding strain, again this is the only decision that would make business sense. Why would anyone in the business of farming choose a low yielding variety? How on earth would the small time garden shop have access to better varieties of potato for crop yield than multi billion dollar corporate farming enterprises?

    A more likely source of the rumors is the farmers themselves. They pay good money for the highest yielding, most disease resistant, drought resistant and hardiest strain money can buy. They don’t want backyard gardeners piggybacking off their research.

    I just planted a whole row of sprouting store bought potatoes. I don’t believe the hype that they won’t grow. If it can grow in my kitchen cabinets with no tlc whatsoever then this “Growth retardant ” obviously doesn’t work very well.

    I would bet that there are very valuable patents on the variety you get in the store. Not so much on the ones in the garden center.

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