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PLANTING It is possible to grow potatoes from true seeds produced in the flower of the potato plant but home gardeners can obtain better results growing plants from whole tubers called seed tubers or from pieces of a tuber with a least one lateral bud or eye called seed pieces This practice is called vegetative propagation For best production seed tubers and seed pieces should weigh at least 15 ounces Unfortunately plant parts are more likely to accumulate and harbor diseases especially viruses than are true seeds To avoid this problem commercial potato growers usually plant certified seed Certified seed potatoes have been inspected by a certification agency at least twice during the growing season to ensure that any disease present is within strict tolerances Home gardeners should also plant certified seed in their gardens Potatoes from the supermarket may carry viral diseases or be treated with a sprout inhibitor that will prevent the tubers from germinating Many garden stores carry certified seed potatoes so seed should not be difficult to find You may have to consult a local Extension agent to find a source for some exotic varieties Buy your seed in early spring to be sure you get what you need You will need 8 to 10 pounds of seed potatoes for each 100 feet of row Potatoes germinate and emerge best when soil temperatures are more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit Plant seed 4 to 5 inches deep in rows about 10 inches apart and 30 to 36 inches wide Although potatoes can be planted on flat ground it is better to form a hill up around the plant Hills provide room for developing tubers to expand and prevent greening by the sun Hilling is also important for drainage Potato hills can be formed at planting time by mounding dirt up around the seed piece Or they can be formed after the plants are up It is best to hill
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