Saving potatoes for next year’s seed

I harvested a bumper crop of Lilly potatoes. Maine Potato Lady appears to have removed this variety from her website, so I’m not totally sure she’s going to have it again next spring.

So, although there are supposed disease concerns from not re-purchasing certified seed potatoes, I might try to save some of my own. This variety performed pretty well for me.

So a couple questions:

  1. Are the disease concerns valid if I am rotating crops?

  2. It’s mid August. Will the seed potatoes keep until mid March in the fridge? Any storage advice?


If you have an unheated room with a dark closet…or even an old refrigerator that no longer works in the basement…should be able to pull it off.

My mom used to have a purple skinned potato she saved seed of for years in a “cellar”…a big dirt hole under the kitchen floor. She gave up gardening several years ago, and none of us kids kept the seed potatoes going. (Us kids are in 50’s and 60’s now.)

As an option, you could dig a pit in the yard or garden…make sure there’s good drainage, and bury your seed potatoes in “hell”. Covering with straw and something that will keep them dry as well as below the frost/freeze line.


My “unheated” rooms are still in the 70s right now. They will sprout by January just like the potatoes I store for eating do.

I have a basement fridge. I may try that.


If they don’t sprout until January, I think there’s a good chance you’ll make it to a tolerably early planting date. I’ve planted Irish potato seed with sprouts so big I didn’t think the seed had any life left in it, but they still did just fine. Certainly it’s possible that your seed won’t be usable any more, but seed potatoes can look a lot worse than I would have thought and still work fine.


Digging in August and storing where they are dry…you may indeed get sprouts before the fall and winter is over. But physically removing sprouts won’t hurt anything too bad…there will be more dormant sprouts that will grow…and a ‘shriveled up’ potato half as big as it once was will plant just fine next March or April. And will produce.

I agree. As long as they aren’t rotten.

I store saved seed potatoes in the veggie crisper of my refrigerator. They have to be checked at least once a month for any that are decaying. Remove the bad potatoes and the rest will keep with minimal sprouting until at least January.

Do I remember correctly that Irish potatoes are said to be like scions in that storing them together with fruit (in a fridge, for example) can cause them to sprout prematurely because of gases that fruits give off? Of course, in a fridge with fruit gases may still be a lot better than out of the fridge without.

In my case, I simply don’t have refrigerator space for all the things like this that would ideally be stored at artificially low temperatures, so it’s a non-issue for me. I make do with a couple 55 gallon barrels buried 90% of the way in a hillside. For the summer and fall I store my seed potatoes in an octagonal crate in the bottom of the barrels and insulate with a foot or two of straw or pine straw, then cover tightly with 8 mesh hardware cloth (to breathe while excluding rodents, etc.) and cover with a roof to keep rain out. At my latitude and at that depth that probably means storage temperatures about like a well air-conditioned house, certainly far above ideal Irish potato storage temperatures, but it’s a lot better than an un-air-conditioned building, and it works well enough for all but the earliest maturing varieties. (It seems that even my late maturing Irish potato varieties have completely died back by early July every year, so there’s lots of summer heat left following potato harvest.) Once winter temperatures really start to set in I transfer my seed potatoes to an outbuilding that I make sure to keep above freezing, particularly because I’m afraid of freezing cold air settling into the buried storage barrels.


My growing season is long enough that a lot of things mature in the heat of summer, but I still get hard winter freezes.

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I have waited until just before the ground freezes to dig the last of the potatoes. This spring some had rather long sprouts after just being stored in a cool room, but still worked for seed potatoes. I have saved the same ones for several years with no problem.


We dig our potatoes by Sept 4 and keep them in a cold room and we cannot plant until the last week in May, so I think your potatoes will be fine. As some have said above, they may grow sprouts, my mother in law has had them as long as 2 feet and they still produce bumper crops of potatoes.

Living up here most of the old homesteaders never ever bought fresh seed potatoes, most people just save their own or swap with neighbours. My mother inlaw’s must be from her mother LOL. Unless your potatoes show signs of disease I doubt that saving them from year to year is a problem.

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