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Potatoes: Pull Sprout/Sprout Jacking--Have you done it? Grow potatoes from peels.

 
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The Pull Sprout/Sprout Jacking methods are techniques for the rapid propagation of potatoes, especially for novel varieties grown from true potato seed (TPS), or in areas where seed tubers are difficult or expensive to acquire. I first learned about this method from the Cultivariable page on Andean potatoes. I haven't been able to find a lot of information on this method.

Has anyone used this method? Any tips or general process?

Since I'll be growing a lot of Andean TPS this coming season, I wanted to practice the pull sprout method as a way of quickly multiplying any varieties I think are worth keeping. I had about 30 pounds of locally grown russets that hadn't been treated with sprout inhibitors. I decided to use these for my practice run and as a bonus they would augment my Andean potato yields if they fail to thrive under my conditions. To process the potatoes I peeled them with a knife, leaving  1/16 to 1/8 inch of flesh, and then added them in alternating layers with compost into a DIY self-watering container.



At first I wasn't sure if they were going to do anything. I wasn't sure if I'd left enough flesh for sprouts to form, and wasn't sure that they wouldn't just rot. But I gently started brushing aside the top layer of compost and found a couple sprouts which ought to poke through the surface any day now.



My understanding is that the best time to remove the sprouts is after they root. At this rate, I'll probably have to remove the sprouts long before in able to plant them outdoors, which will certainly make for a tricky situation, since I don't really have the resources to pot up a ton of potatoes, but I may do at least a few as a proof of concept. It's altogether possible that I'll end up with a tub full of mini tubers, in which case I might just end up planting those.

But if you've used this method, I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Here's an example of someone's pulled sprouts from the Tomatoville forum.

 
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I have grown from peels, in containers.
I was able to grow full sized plants.
The tubers were tiny, but that may have been due to a lack of proper watering.
 
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I generally cut off the distal end of the tuber and then plant the rest of the tuber in soil in a shallow nursery tray.  Cutting the end off breaks apical dominance so that the remaining eyes will sprout.  You can jam the tray full of as many tubers as you can fit.  When the sprouts start to emerge, you just detach them from the tuber and you will have a small plant that has already rooted.  The tuber will keep sending up sprouts as long as it has eyes that haven't sprouted yet.  You can easily get a couple hundred sprouts from a packed tray.
 
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William Bronson wrote:I have grown from peels, in containers.
I was able to grow full sized plants.
The tubers were tiny, but that may have been due to a lack of proper watering.



Good to know that other people have had success with that method. Does the amount of flesh that I left on seem right to you?

And I think overcrowding is one cause of small tuber size, if I'm not mistaken? So in a container, especially if it was multiple peels in one container, small tubers wouldn't surprise me.

But yeah, lack of water certainly wouldn't help.
 
Mathew Trotter
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William Whitson wrote:I generally cut off the distal end of the tuber and then plant the rest of the tuber in soil in a shallow nursery tray.  Cutting the end off breaks apical dominance so that the remaining eyes will sprout.  You can jam the tray full of as many tubers as you can fit.  When the sprouts start to emerge, you just detach them from the tuber and you will have a small plant that has already rooted.  The tuber will keep sending up sprouts as long as it has eyes that haven't sprouted yet.  You can easily get a couple hundred sprouts from a packed tray.



Thanks. Glad to know I was on the right track. And I started with the peels only as a proof of concept that you could eat the tuber and still have plenty of propagation material leftover. Heard about people planting peels and it seemed like a pretty powerful combination, especially in the context of TPS.

I believe I saw something about this not working with early varieties. Has that been your experience?
 
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Just wanted to pop in for a quick update and say that the bulk pull sprouts from potato peels are working great. Again, it's just layers of potato peels and compost ina DIY self-watering planter. Just pulled one of the larger ones today and the roots look great.



 
Mathew Trotter
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I've now created a video that details my experience thus far with the pull sprout method. It details why and how I created my DIY self-watering planter and how I grew my pull sprouts from peels, leaving the rest of the tuber for eating.


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