In the May newsletter re swine flu and stocking food, there's a reference to the March 2008 newsletter ("Cutting Food Costs in These Times") and under "Should You Store Food for an Emergency" is a link re storage of foods. For potatoes it says 6 months. When I store potatoes (in a dark, cool place) they sprout within days. I'd love to store potatoes for an emergency . . . anyone know how it's done? Thanks.
Actually there are four requirements for longer-term storage of potatoes. Dark
--that's easy. Cool
--this means 40 degrees. Air
circulation--they are alive and need air and will rot if sealed up in plastic. Loose in bins or crates is the way to go. And, humid
--that is 90 to 95% humidity!!! In previous times many people had a dank basement that was perfect for potatoes. Nowadays many of us don't have basements, or if we do they are nice and dry, and probably too warm.
Sometimes a garage can provide the right environment for potatoes, unless it freezes in the winter. You don't really want them going below 36 degrees. Any warmer than 40 degrees and they will tend to sprout sooner, but that isn't always a problem if you use them up soon enough. If your garage is cold but above freezing, try putting some potatoes in a styrofoam cooler (a cheap one that is permeable to air) with the lid on and a glass of water inside for humidity. You could also sprinkle them just a little for moisture but don't let them sit in water, they will rot. I have been able to store beets and carrots that way really well.
I have an insulated closet built in my unheated garage for food storage. It is against an underground wall. It never goes below freezing in there and the average temperature over the winter is 50 degrees. That's the best I can do for potato storage, as I have no basement. This past year, I remembered to keep the potatoes moist and we did pretty well--the ones that were left in April were still mostly okay. Oh, and my other problem is the garage closet really doesn't cool down until pretty late in the season. I leave the potatoes in the ground as late as I can, because they like it underground (dark, cool, with air, humid). That way they spend less time above 40 degrees.