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How to Soak Potatoes Before Planting

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Potato plants can be grown by burying actual potatoes, technically known as "seed potatoes." Larger seed potatoes are sliced into sections, each containing one or two eyes, before planting. Though potato plants are relatively low-maintenance and hardy, fungi on the seed potatoes themselves can cause a variety of potato diseases, including potato scab and black rot. Soaking the potatoes in a variety of solutions kills the problem-causing fungi and helps ensure a healthy potato plant and a bountiful future harvest.

Bleach

Fill a gallon-sized plastic bucket or container with nine cups of fresh water.

Add one cup of standard household bleach. Mix the bleach and water thoroughly with a spoon or other stirring tool.

Drop the potatoes inside the solution. Let them soak for five minutes before removing them from the solution. This kills most bacterial and fungal diseases, according to OISAT, a European agricultural resource service for farmers and extension workers.

Commercial Fungicides

Fill a gallon-sized plastic bucket with 1/3 gallon of fresh water.

Add 3/5 teaspoon of mancozeb, a commercial fungicide recommended by the University of Hawaii. If you're using another agricultural fungicide, such as benomyl, consult the specific chemical's label for mixing instructions.

Put the potatoes into the solution. Let them soak for 15 minutes before removing and planting them.

Borax

Pour a gallon of water into a plastic bucket.

Mix in 2/3 cup of borax.

Place the potatoes into the borax solution. Soak the potatoes for 10 minutes, then remove and plant them. Borax effectively kills the various fungi that cause potato problems, like black rot, according to Clemson University's cooperative extension service.

Potatoes Set Out Before Planting Them?

Seed potatoes larger than 2 inches in diameter require cutting into smaller pieces before you plant them. Once cut and prepared for planting, seed potatoes require drying. Drying allows the cut edges to scab over so they are less prone to rot or disease transmission after planting. Incorporating a 2-inch layer of compost and a 5-10-5 blend fertilizer into the site improves soil quality. Spacing the potatoes 10 inches apart in the row and setting rows at least 2 feet apart provides room for tuber development. Potatoes produce tubers along the entire length of their buried stem, so mounding mulch can increase crop yield.

Tip

Plant the potatoes immediately after you've soaked them.

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