STORING POTATOES FOR FOOD AND SEED
DIG FOR VICTORY LEAFLET No. 13 (Page 2 of 4)
Store only Sound Tubers
If diseased tubers are mixed with sound ones, disease may spread. Hence, it is necessary to look over the potatoes to be stored, and ensure that even slightly diseased tubers are not stored with the sound ones.
Very small and diseased tubers should be picked out and used for feeding to pigs or poultry. The diseased potatoes should not be fed raw ; they should first be boiled to prevent the germs of disease from getting into the manure and thence back on the land.
Utilising damaged and diseased potatoes
Please remember this is a historical document. Feeding of waste food from the kitchen to livestock is illegal nowadays. Technically I suppose you could use the unfit potatoes so long as they were cooked outside of the kitchen!
Modern hybrid breeds of chickens produce far more eggs than the old pure breeds. A wartime hen would be doing well to produce 180 eggs a year whereas a modern bird will top 300 eggs in the first year.
To fuel that high production rate, modern breeds require carefully balanced feed to provide the maximum nutrients in the correct proportions. Waste spuds are not on the menu.
One disease, Blight, which causes serious rotting of the tubers, attacks the tops first and is washed down by rain to the tubers. If the tops are at all green at lifting time, and this disease is present, the act of lifting will cause the disease to infect the moist tubers and they will probably rot away when stored.
The tops must be quite dead at lifting time, or if they are green to any slight extent, they should be cut off and removed a week or more before lifting begins, taking care not to uncover the tubers.
Even after careful sorting, some diseased tubers are sure to escape notice and to be mixed with sound ones. To prevent disease spreading from them to the sound tubers, it is advisable to sprinkle powdered quicklime, or a mixture of quicklime and flowers of sulphur among them. The sulphur helps also to keep away vermin.
I can hear the health and safety police screaming about misuse of pesticides and the dangers of licking quicklime off the potatoes in store. It’s amazing how people survived! Both quicklime and flowers of sulphur are available nowadays but not for this purpose
The potatoes should be ready for lifting as soon as the haulm has died down. To tell whether the crop is ready for lifting, remove the soil from about a root, take up one or two tubers and note whether the skin is ” set,” that is, does not rub off easily. Lift in dry weather and leave the tubers on the ground only long enough for the skins to dry.
If part of the crop is to be used for planting next year, the tubers of seed size, say about 2 oz., should be set aside for boxing. If none is to be kept for seed, all sound tubers above 1½ oz. should be stored.