Reading Time: 5 minutes 🍃
It’s common to find that potatoes are growing in your compost patch. But you don’t want to risk getting sick. So, will compost potatoes be safe to eat?
In most cases, you shouldn’t have any issues eating potatoes that have formed in your compost heap. All you need to do is clean and cook the potatoes, and any remaining bacteria will be killed off. You will need to be careful when adding manure to the heap. This has the potential of passing along bacteria if it isn’t composted correctly.
You last want to get sick from eating something grown in incorrect conditions. Keep reading to learn how you can protect yourself when growing compost potatoes.
Are Compost Potatoes Safe to Eat?
The best place to start is by looking at the type of things you are composting. The main concern here is that you would be accidentally exposing yourself to harmful bacteria. The risk will depend on what you have been composting.
You should be okay if you have been sticking to mainly kitchen scraps and things like cardboard or paper. The biggest issue is manure. Any type of manure is potentially dangerous, but you should pay particular attention to the manure of a carnivore. This will contain the highest risk of harmful bacteria. To be safe, it’s best to avoid anything grown in this type of compost pile.
It might also be a good idea to consider the stage of composting. Though you should only add completed compost to your garden, this is because of the levels of nitrogen involved. If you added half-completed compost, the nitrogen levels would be too high, potentially harming the plants. It doesn’t mean that the compost itself is harmful.
Thirdly, looking at the type of potatoes you are growing is a good idea. They should be attached to a living plant. Before you use them, check them carefully. Don’t use anything that has signs of rotting. Be aware that compost potatoes won’t grow as big as those planted in the soil.
Preparing the Potatoes Properly
How you prepare the potatoes is just as important as the conditions they were grown in. Here are some tips you should use to make them safe to eat:
- Wash thoroughly. Get rid of any compost soil attached to the potatoes’ outside. Eating this is the most likely reason why you would become sick.
- Cook the potatoes. The cooking method doesn’t matter. It’s the heat that will kill any remaining bacteria that live on the potatoes.
As long as you follow these simple tips, you should be able to enjoy eating compost potatoes safely.
Why do Potatoes Grow in Compost?
There are a few reasons why potatoes tend the thrive when left in a compost pile. First, they are attracted to the way the soil is composed. It tends to be rich in nitrogen. This is one of the elements that potatoes need to grow strongly.
Plus, potatoes won’t be difficult to grow. All you have to do is prepare them and put them into the compost pile. If they like the soil composition, they will be able to start growing strongly. It’s common to find potatoes growing in a pile of compost by accident.
Preparing Potatoes for Composting
Growing potatoes in your compost pile are easy. But there are a few tips you should use when preparing your potatoes for composting, so you can be assured of a good harvest. These include:
- Check the potatoes before you start composting. It’s a good idea to look at the potatoes before putting them into the compost heap. Don’t put in anything that is showing the signs of fungal pathogens. Eliminate anything that contains signs of potato blight.
- Leave them whole. This gives them the best chance of spawning a plant. If you don’t want to grow a potato, you should cut them into halves or quarters.
- Cover them with some dirt. You only need a few inches. This will allow the potatoes to germinate properly. It will also allow the worms in the soil to start breaking down the nutrients in the potatoes.
If you have done this properly, you should quickly see the benefits. Within a few weeks, you should start seeing the potato plant’s green leaves.
Growing Potatoes in Compost
It’s not worth the effort of transplanting the potatoes to a new area for them to grow. Instead, it’s best to leave them in the compost pile. If you do this, they should be able to grow strongly. There are a few tips you can use if you plan to grow potatoes in the compost heap; these include:
- Hilling the potatoes. As the name suggests, this involves making a hill of loose organic material for the potatoes to climb up. The bigger the hill, the better. It will increase your yield. It will also reduce the number of weeds that you need to deal with. Sometimes, you can use mesh to hold the hill in place during the growing season. This can stop erosion from ruining your crop.
- Mix in some straw. While the compost will add a lot of valuable nutrients, you risk overloading them. Too many nutrients can cause a growth spurt, reducing the quality of the produce. Because of this, it’s best to mix in some layers of straw.
- Add plenty of moisture. One of the most important parts of growing potatoes is regulating the soil’s moisture. They will need fairly moist soils to thrive.
If you follow these tips, there is a good chance that you will be able to grow potatoes in your compost pile. But there are still issues that you might experience. The results can be unpredictable. You aren’t necessarily planning the placement of the potatoes. Often, they will grow in the compost pile by accident. Because of this, you might find they are smaller or grow more unevenly than normal.
Aside from this, you don’t need to be too worried about killing off your potatoes. They are fairly hardy and will be able to cope with most conditions. Just keep an eye on the way they are developing. For example, you might need to step in and adjust the hill occasionally.
Killing Potatoes That are Growing in Compost
Sometimes, you won’t want to eat the potatoes growing in compost. They might be showing signs of infection, or perhaps they were grown in a compost heap that contains manure. In this case, there are some ways you can kill them without damaging the compost heap.
The best option is to turn the compost heap. Try to bury the growing potatoes under the compost. The heat will kill the potatoes. Plus, it will kill any harmful bacteria growing on the potatoes.
Another option is to turn the compost pile. Put the burgeoning potatoes at the bottom. The heat will help kill it. Make sure to break up any root systems.
Often, growing potatoes in your compost heap won’t be planned. It will come as an unexpected accident, as discarded potatoes will grow easily in the right soil conditions.
The good news is that this is a hardy species, and you won’t need to do much to facilitate their healthy growth. Then, you just need to wait a few weeks until the potatoes are ready to harvest, and you can enjoy the proceeds of your labor.