Yes, there are more options than just digging trenches.
If you’ve been thinking about growing your own potatoes, now’s the time. But before you get started, you need to consider the right planting approach for your yard. A few years ago, I conducted a test: I grew German Butterball potatoes using seven different planting methods. Throughout the course of the growing season, the pros and cons of each became quite transparent.
Take a look at the different planting methods you can consider, including those that worked the best and which ones delivered less-than-stellar results.
Cheapest: Hilled Rows
Dig straight, shallow trenches, 2 to 3 feet apart, in prepared soil. Plant seed potatoes 12 inches apart and cover with about 3 inches of soil. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe or shovel to scoop soil from between rows and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway. Repeat as needed through the growing season to keep the tubers covered.
Unlike container gardening, there’s nothing to buy or build and no soil to transport. This is a simple, inexpensive, and proven method that farmers have used for millennia. It’s practical for large-scale plantings, also.
However, the quality of the soil may limit the yield. In places where the dirt badly compacted or low in organic matter, an above-ground technique might work better.
Here’s a video that shows this potato-planting method:
Least Digging: Straw Mulch
Place seed potatoes on the surface of prepared soil following the spacing specified for hilled rows and cover them with 3 to 4 inches of loose, seed-free straw. Mound more straw around the stems as they grow, eventually creating a layer of one foot or more in depth.
The benefit here is that the thick mulch conserves soil moisture and smothers weeds. Harvest is effortless with no digging, and this method is suggested as a way to thwart the Colorado potato beetle. However, this produced a smaller yield than the hilled row and field mice have been known to use eat the crops under the cover of the straw.
Biggest Yield: Raised Beds
Loosen the soil in the bottom of a half-filled raised bed. Space seed potatoes about 12 inches apart in all directions and bury them 3 inches deep. As the potatoes grow, add more soil until the bed is filled. If possible, simplify harvest by removing the sides.
This method yielded the largest harvest in my trials, and the potatoes were uniformly large in size. Raised beds are a good choice where the garden soil is heavy and poorly drained. The downside: The soil to fill the bed has to come from somewhere — and it takes a lot.
Good for DIYers: Wood Boxes
Build or buy a bottomless square box — I used lumber from discarded pallets — and plant the same as for a raised bed. The box is designed so you can add additional slats and soil as the plants grow. In theory, you can temporarily remove the bottom slat for harvesting, or just tip it over.
This is another strategy for growing potatoes where the ground soil is of poor quality. It yielded a similar quantity to the raised bed. However, a lot of time and effort went into building the box and I felt the results did not justify the effort.
Best for Wet Yards: Wire Cylinders
Using hardware cloth with ¼-inch mesh, fashion a cylinder about 18 inches in diameter and 24 inches tall. Put several inches of soil in the bottom, then plant three or four seed potatoes and cover them with 3 inches of soil. Continue to add soil as the potatoes grow. To harvest, lift the cylinder and pull the soil back to expose the tubers.
In a climate with incessant spring rains, the wire mesh would provide excellent drainage and prevent the soil from getting waterlogged. This is another raised technique to consider where garden soil is poor. Unfortunately, I only harvested a small number of undersized tubers from the cylinders — a dismal showing, probably because the soil-compost mixture I used dried out so quickly that the plants lacked adequate moisture.
Easiest Harvest: Grow Bags
Commercial growing bags are made with heavy, dense polypropylene. Put a few inches of a soil-compost mixture in the bottom of a bag, then plant three or four seed potato pieces and cover with 3 inches of soil. Continue adding soil as the plants grow until the bag is full. To harvest, turn the bag on its side and dump out the contents.
Grow bags can go on patios or driveways or where garden soil lacks nutrients. The bags should last for several growing seasons. Their dark color captures solar heat to speed early growth. Harvest is simple and the yield can be impressive, considering the small space each bag occupies. However, this can be a pricey technique. The brand of bag I used costs $12.95.
Best to Skip: Garbage Bags
Fill a large plastic garbage bag the same way as a grow bag, punching a few holes through the plastic for drainage. Roll the top edge of the bag to help it stay upright; otherwise the bag will sag and spill soil. To harvest, rip the bag and pour out the contents.
Like the grow bags, a garbage bag can be employed where in-ground growing is not an option. Black bags capture solar heat to speed early growth. Aesthetically, however, this is the least appealing choice. Our yield was meager, perhaps because the thin plastic allowed the soil to heat up too much, limiting tuber formation.
Potatoes grow from seed tubers, not true seed. They originated in the Andes, and come in a variety of types, colors and shapes. Generally, there are russet types that are starchy with brown skins and that are good for baking; red potatoes that can have white, yellow, or red and starchy or waxy flesh; white potatoes with white or yellow flesh; purple colored potatoes; and fingerling types. Potatoes need sunny locations to grow well.
Soil pH and fertility
Soil testing and fertilizer
- As you prepare, plant and tend your garden, treat your potato patch differently because potatoes require more fertilizer than other vegetables.
- Potatoes grow best in well-drained, sandy soil. A poorly drained soil is more likely to produce diseased tubers.
- Have your soil tested.
- The ideal soil pH level for potatoes is somewhat acidic, between 6 and 6.5, but they will tolerate soil with pH as low as 5.
- Addition of manure or compost can add micronutrients and organic matter to soil.
- Side-dress (place fertilizer alongside of the row) about four weeks after planting.
- As you hill up soil around the plants, incorporate 0.15 pounds actual nitrogen per 50 feet of row.
- Repeat the hilling and fertilization two weeks later.
- Note that this fertilizer recommendation is different from Extension recommendations for most other crops.
- Do not use any fertilizer containing a weed killer (“Weed and Feed”), as it may kill your vegetable plants.
Choosing potato varieties
Use mealy or dry-fleshed potatoes, like russets, for baking, frying and mashing. As mashed potatoes, they will not be gluey, and they will absorb gravy, butter or sour cream. They may fall apart in a soup, or when boiled for a potato salad.
Waxy or moist-fleshed, round potatoes hold together when cooked. Potato chunks in soups, curries, frittatas, and salads are usually waxy varieties. You can pan-fry leftover boiled potatoes without them falling apart. When you mash waxy potatoes, they can become sticky.
Many potato varieties fall somewhere in between truly waxy and completely mealy. All-purpose potatoes such as ‘Yukon Gold’ usually have a balance of waxy and mealy starches.
Start potato plants from tubers or pieces of tubers, not from true seed. Buy disease-free seed tubers from a certified grower or seed distributor. Most garden centers carry seed potatoes in the spring.
Commercial seed tubers will grow into stronger, more vigorous, longer-lived plants. The plants may produce fewer tubers, but the total yield from each plant will be higher.
Do not plant potatoes purchased at the grocery store, as the store may treat them with chemicals to keep tubers dormant, in which case they will be slow to grow. Diseases may also infect the potatoes, which can remain in the soil for a long time.
Potatoes saved from your own garden may not be a good choice either. They can carry disease spores from the previous year. Although your garden may seem disease free, re-introducing more fungi or bacteria could cause crop failure for your potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the future.
Both grocery store potatoes and your own saved tubers have been grown as food, not with seed use in mind, which makes them less suitable as seed.
Potato planting is done using small pieces of mature “seed potato” tubers, during the cool season when the soil is above freezing and in time to before temperatures get above 90 or so.
Start to Finish
Like this? Here’s more:
How to Grow Potatoes 05:02
Potato planting is done using small pieces of mature “seed potato” tubers during the cool season when the soil is above freezing and with enough time to harvest before temperatures get above 90 or so.
Before finding out how to plant a potato for fun or feed a family on the nutritious spuds, you must find a well-drained garden spot that gets at least 7 or 8 hours of sunlight, or grow in a sunny raised bed or large container. This must be done while temperatures are cool, not freezing or broiling hot.
Few people who wonder how do you plant potatoes realize that the tubers actually form on lower stems, not on roots of potato plants. For the ‘taters to grow, you have to pile soil up on the stems as the plants grow.
Start With the Right Kinds
Grocery store potatoes often fail to produce well in home gardens. Instead, visit local garden centers for the best varieties for your part of the country, or shop online to find more interesting varieties, early enough to beat the rush. Buy only fresh, disease-free “certified” seed potatoes.
Prepare the Potatoes for Planting
A few days before planting, cut potatoes into pieces about the size of large eggs, each with one or two “eye” buds on them. Dry them indoors for a day or two to let cuts heal which reduces rotting in cold, wet soils. Dusting with agricultural sulfur can protect against fungal diseases.
How Deep Do You Plant a Potato
The best way to grow potatoes is in rows or hills, but they do well in raised beds and even containers. Bury seed pieces two or three inches deep, about a foot apart, cut side down. Water deeply to start them sprouting.
Important: Hill the Potatoes
Potato tubers sprout on stems above the original seed pieces. Those growing too shallow will get sunburned and turn green and bitter – and can actually become poisonous. When small plants get a few inches tall, pile soil, straw or hay over them until with just a few leaves left showing. Repeat every couple of weeks until there are at least six or eight inches of soil covering the lower stems so that new tubers are never exposed to direct sun.
Keep Plants Growing
Though too much water can cause root and stem rot, and dark or hollow spots in the tubers, plants need a good soaking during dry spells, especially when flowering, to form uniform tubers. Weeds, insects and diseases weaken plants; for good local information on potato pest control, contact your county Extension Service office.
Harvest and Store the Potatoes
Dig small “new” potatoes within about three months, but for larger mature potatoes wait until plants begin to yellow. If they remain green for four months or more, cut the plants down and let tubers dry in place a few days. Avoid cuts and punctures as you dig; do not wash, but gently dust off excess dirt. Those you don’t use quickly can be stored in a cool, dry, dark place for several months, with regular checking for shriveling or decay.
Potatoes Are a Versatile Garden Staple but How Do I Plant Them?
Planting potatoes actually begins a few weeks before you put them in the ground. To give your crop a happy start, you want to ensure your seed potatoes are sprouted prior to planting. Seed potatoes are available at any of your local garden supply or hardware store and can be found in pre-weighted bags or purchased in bulk. Once you have your seedlings home, place them in a sunny spot with temperatures consistently in the 60-70 degree F range.
What Can I Plant With Potatoes?
Knowing what not to plant near your potatoes is certainly important, however knowing the comprehensive list of what does work well nearby, opens up a myriad of planting options for your garden. Potatoes are deep-rooting plants, thus many gardeners prefer to pair them with plants that will not interfere with their root system. Excellent choices in that vein would include:
Within a week to three, you will begin to notice sprouts on the seedlings, indicating they are ready to be planted. If your seedlings are larger than 2 inches around and have more than one sprout on them, you can cut them into smaller sections, just make sure each seedling you plant has at least one or two sprouts. A seedling two inches or smaller should not be cut, rather plant the whole. If you do cut any of your seedlings, give them a day or two to form a nice callous over the cut to prevent rotting.
I Have my Sprouted Seedlings, when Should I Plant Them?
Like many hardier plants, potatoes can go in the ground as soon as you are able to work it up, however, they will not begin to grow until your soil has reached at least 45 degrees F and is moist, but not drenched. If your garden is still waterlogged from spring thaws or rains, give the soil time to drain for a few days. Very wet soil will often rot an early potato crop.
While potatoes are somewhat frost hardy, it is a good idea to provide frost protection (simple burlap covers or even old bedsheets will suffice) if you suffer a late hard frost. Lastly, when it comes to timing your potato planting, consider splitting your crop in half, which will extend your over-winter storage time. In other words, plant half of your crop when the soil and conditions are first ready, then plant the second half two to three weeks later.
What are the Optimal Planting Approaches for Potatoes?
Whether planting directly in a field or raised beds, planting potatoes in rows allows you to manage the crop better, then follow these steps:
- Dig a trench/trenches approximately 8 inches deep
- If you are digging multiple rows, ensure they are at least 3 feet apart
- Place each seedling (if you are planting cut seedlings, make sure the cut side is down) 12 inches apart, sprout side up
- Cover each trench halfway (about 4 inches of soil)
- Once plants begin to grow/poke through, fill the trenches to level. At this time it is also good to mix in an application of a dry blend granular organic fertilizer. Make sure to mix or “scratch” the granular fertilizer into the soil to it doesn’t get washed away with your next watering.
- Re-apply granular fertilizer every 5-6 weeks during the growing season to provide a long-term nutrient release. Supplement your granular organic fertilizer with a liquid organic fertilizer every 2-3 weeks with your regular watering routine for quick release nutrients.
- Some gardeners prefer to continue mounding the soil around the plants as they continue to grow.
Written by Alex Darc
Many people think that growing potatoes in your Square Foot Garden isn’t possible, but if you choose the right varieties you can have a successful potato crop. Mel made some great videos on how to grow potatoes in pots and grow bags, but we’re going to talk about how to grow them right in your SFG plot.
The most important part of growing potatoes is starting with certified disease free seed potatoes from a reputable source. Can you plant potatoes from your grocery store? Yes, you can, but grocery store potatoes are not tested for soil borne diseases, like Early or Late Blight, or Scab or Black Scurf, and could infect your Mel’s Mix with diseases that will affect your nightshade crops for years. In addition you will likely have no idea what variety the potatoes are, when to expect to harvest them, or whether they are determinate or indeterminate, and when it comes to planting in SFGs, this is very important.
Indeterminate vs Determinate?
What is the difference?
Indeterminate potatoes are also called Late Season potatoes and they will continue to grow for most of the season often until frost and the plants will get very large and if you mound them up with soil or mulch, they can grow potatoes all the way up the stalk.
Determinate varieties are sold as Early Season Potatoes (55-70 days) and Mid Season potatoes (70-90 days). These plants have a more restricted growth and will begin to die back when it is time to harvest. These plants will not grow as tall as the indeterminate potatoes and when they start to flower they do not need to be mounded any higher. And that is what makes them perfect for SFG or planting in 3-5 gallon grow bags or pots.
Preparing to Plant:
The next part is all about timing. Plan to plant your potatoes out 2-4 weeks before your last frost. 4 weeks before that, plan to start greensprouting (also called chitting) your potatoes.
To do that, place the potatoes rose end up in egg cartons located near a window. The rose end is the end with the most eyes. The warmth will help them break dormancy and the light will make the sprouts nice and green and keep them short. Many people sprout their potatoes in the dark, so the sprouts get really long and white, but that is not the best choice for the best harvest.
Shorter, greener sprouts are stronger and provide more food to the plant even while they are trying to break to the surface of the soil. The goal in greensprouting is short dark green leafy sprouts, not spindly, leggy sprouts.
If your potatoes are larger than the size of a chicken egg, you may want to cut them up into smaller pieces. This will give you more pieces to plant and can be a frugal way to extend your planting area. Try to divide them into pieces no smaller than an egg with no less than three sprouts per piece. Do this at least a week before planting so that the cuts have time to heal. They should be well healed and dry before planting.
Before planting, make sure your bed is well drained and the soil temp is at least 45˚. In SFG you can choose to plant 1 potato, 2 potatoes or 4 in a square foot. The more you plant in a square the smaller your harvested potatoes will likely be. Planting 4 to a square is a good method for getting “new potatoes” or baby potatoes. If you are hoping for large storage/baking potatoes, plant 1 or 2 to a square.
In your square, make a deep hole (or 2 or 4 depending) and place your potato sprouts side up as close to the bottom of the box as you can. Then cover with an inch or two Mel’s Mix.
Once a week, cover the sprouts again with Mel’s Mix you had removed from the hole. Do this until the soil is nearly level. At this stage you can either add a “top hat”, a bottomless box to hold added soil to your square( you can purchase one here https://www.sfgrrv.com/product-page/top-hat-box-for-carrots-leeks-potatoes) and keep adding Mel’s Mix or good light mulch , or just pile the mulch on top like a mound. I use straw or salt marsh hay or even chemical free dried grass clippings to cover the plants once more to keep any tubers forming close to the surface from being exposed to sunlight.
Potatoes need 1-2 inches of water a week, and water is critical when they are first planted and when they are flowering. Once tops begin to die back, reduce watering before harvest. Check your plants regularly for potato beetle larvae on the backs of the leaves and any signs of disease. Snip off any flowers to make sure all the energy goes into tuber production, not flower/seed production.
After the appropriate days to maturity for your variety, you can begin harvesting. Mel’s Mix makes potato harvesting easy, because it is light and easy to dig. Remove any mulch you applied and dig with a hand spade so as not to damage any of your potatoes. Try not to disturb the roots of any other plants you have planted in the bed.
When harvesting potatoes that you plan to store long term, you don’t wash them. You can dust the soil off them, but don’t wet or wash them, keeping them dry and a bit dusty will help them keep longer.
About the writer: Alex is an avid gardener and has been Square Foot Gardening since 2008. Living in many different growing zones across the USA, she has faced many gardening challenges. Alex now resides in zone 6b and is an expert in many areas of general organic gardening, concentrating on Square Foot Gardening. Alex is currently a valued moderator of the Official SFG Foundation Facebook group fielding questions from over 65,000 members daily.
A women’s health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt. Read full profile
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Contrary to popular belief, learning how to grow potatoes isn’t difficult. In fact, potatoes are one of the easiest and most convenient vegetables to grow. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener to do so, nor do you need oodles of space.
If you haven’t had much luck with gardening in the past, or don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the process, learning how to grow potatoes is the perfect way to start your new hobby.
Here’s how to grow potatoes in your garden, no matter its size or location:
Step 1: Purchase Seed Potatoes
Buy seed potatoes from your local garden center. These are potatoes that have already started to sprout. (The sprouts are called eyes. You’ll notice these on potatoes you’ve stored in your kitchen for long periods of time.)
Don’t plant store-bought potatoes. You won’t know what chemicals have been sprayed on them, which can put your entire crop at risk for disease.
Step 2: Prepare Your Seed Potatoes
Next, you have to chit your seeds: this means storing them in a cool, dry, and light location for two weeks before planting them. This allows your seed potatoes to start sprouting early, which will help you produce the best crop possible.
How to Chit:
- Find the side of the potato that has the most eyes. Place them side by side on trays with the eyes facing upward.
- Store them. Each eye will produce a shoot.
- Check on the shoots, making sure to take away any that look unhealthy.
- Plant the shoots once they’ve reached 1.5 – 2.5cm in length.
Step 3: Prepare Your Soil
Choose a sunny spot where the soil is loose and well-drained so the roots can fully develop. If the soil is dry, water it a few days before you plant your potato seeds—you want the soil to be moist, but not soaking wet.
Wait until the soil is warm before planting. If you plant your seed potatoes in damp ground and they remain damp for too long, they could rot before they have a chance to grow.
Step 4: Plant Your Seed Potatoes
There are three common ways to grow your own potatoes:
Dig a trench about 4 inches deep, placing your potato seeds 18 inches apart. Mound soil around the shoots.
Prepare the soil as you would using the trenching method, only instead of mounding the soil, place the potato seeds on the surface and lightly cover them with mulch.
This method isn’t recommended if you have problems with squirrels and/or raccoons.
Perfect for the city dweller wanting to garden, place 6 inches of soil at the bottom of a container. Drop your potato seeds in, and cover them with three inches of soil. Keep adding soil as the shoots grow, and your container will eventually fill with potatoes.
Recommended containers include barrels, cloth grocery bags, and burlap bags.
Step 5: Watch Your Potatoes Grow
The best part about learning how to grow potatoes is how little care they require. You only have to water them once a week—less if it rains! As your potatoes grow, make sure to mound soil around the plant stems.
Check for new potatoes after 50–60 days. Only harvest enough potatoes for 2–3 days at a time and keep them refrigerated.
Growing season lasts for 90–120 days. If you wait until two weeks after the vines die, this will allow the potato skins to harden and they’ll last longer in storage.
While you’re waiting, learn some killer potato recipes for when your first crop is ready!
Step 6: Store Your Potatoes
Store your crop in a cool, dry place with the temperature above freezing. Give your potatoes an even longer shelf life by leaving the dirt on them until you’re ready to cook them.
Now that you know how to grow potatoes, it’s time to enjoy the process of growing your first crop! Don’t forget to let us know how it goes in the comments.
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A women’s health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.
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Published on May 28, 2021
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Perhaps one of the hardest things a 4-year-old kid can learn is to tie his shoes. On the contrary, for adults like us, it’s the simplest and probably the most boring activity we can think of. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to register for a seminar on how to lace shoes, right!
It’s obvious, you don’t even need to use your brain when tying shoelaces. Look back up, I said most b-o-r-i-n-g a while ago when I mentioned lacing shoes up. But I will take that back. Why? Because when I saw the post from Diply featuring videos of lacing up shoes artistically, I realize how intricate, complicated, and creative it is to lace up shoes. That is if you do it like the way we do it on the featured videos.
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Potatoes are one of those easy to grow vegetables that are a great choice for new gardeners. They are even one of the top vegetables to grow in a container garden. But if you are new to gardening you might be wondering how to grow potatoes in your garden.
Potatoes are one of those versatile garden staples that gardeners throw in the ground, in a bucket, a pot, or a growing bag, and get a good harvest out of their hard work.
In this post we go over the ins and outs on growing potatoes in your garden.
TL;DR of How To Grow Potatoes
- Potato seeds are the best option for ensuring you get a potato plant without disease.
- It is possible to grow potatoes from sprouting potatoes you got from the grocery store, organic is best.
- Potatoes are a cooler weather crop.
- To prevent possible frost damage wait until 2 weeks after your last frost date.
- It’s best to grow in the ground by digging a trench about 4 inches deep. Plant potato seeds 12 inches apart.
- Make sure your potatoes get 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
- Once the leaves of the plant die off, remove the foliage, then 10 days later dig up your potatoes.
What is the easiest way to grow potatoes?
The easiest way to grow potatoes is to dig a shallow trench (about 4 inches deep). Add a small amount of compost at the bottom of your trench. Then plant your seed potatoes about 12 inches apart. If you want to have multiple rows of potatoes growing dig your trenches 2 to 3 feet apart.
Potatoes prefer soil that is on the acidic side, about pH 5.5 to 6.5.
The soil also needs to be well drained. Potatoes stuck sitting in water that isn’t draining is going to not go well for getting a good potato harvest.
Can You Grow Potatoes In A Pot?
Potaotes can grow very well in a container garden.
It is best to use a growing bag for potatoes. But if that’s not available, just make sure that your container is well drained.
I’ve even had a successful harvest of potatoes from a 5 gallon bucket.
How Much Sun Do Potato Plants Need?
When planning where to plant your potatoes you will want to make sure you pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
Potato plants can grow up to 40 inches high, so make sure you don’t place them in an area that will drown out the light for smaller plants that are behind them.
What is the best time of year to plant potatoes?
Potatoes are one of those vegetables that prefer cooler weather. So this is one of the plants you will want to start earlier in your garden season. You can plant your potatoes 6 to 8 weeks before the average of the last frost date for your area. In some places, this might still be too early to be able to work the soil, if that is the case then plant your potatoes once you can work the soil.
If you get some early growth of your potato plant or a frost happens to come along late, after your potato plants start to grow, you will want to cover your potato plants. I have had a very late frost come and didn’t get the chance to cover my potato plants, and miraculously the plant just regrew its leaves and kept on growing. So not all is lost if a frost does catch you by surprise.
However, if you want to make sure you can avoid any frost damage, you can wait up to 2 weeks after your average frost date to plant your potatoes.
Using Seed Potatoes in Your Garden
You can buy seed potatoes that are just for growing new potato plants.
What Are Seed Potatoes?
While called seeds, seed potatoes are not seeds. They are potatoes that are grown to sprout so you can grow new potato plants.
Seed potatoes are not the same as potatoes that you buy. All seed potatoes are specifically selected as healthy and disease free, that way you can be sure to get a good potato plant, and a good yield from that plant.
Another benefit of using seed potatoes is that you get a chance to grow different varieties of potatoes than what is available at your local grocery store. Choosing a potato seed gives you choices of over 100 different varieties of potatoes.
How do you grow potatoes from a potato?
You might not have known that you can actually grow a potato from a potato.
In fact, if you were wondering “Can I grow a potato from store bought potatoes?”, you might be surprised to learn that you can. Potatoes are one of those vegetables you can grow from kitchen scraps.
Organic potatoes are the best potatoes to try to grow from scraps. Since organic potatoes are not treated with chlorpropham, it is usually easier to get a new plant to sprout. I have had a lot of success growing new potato plants using organic potatoes that have sprouted. Non-organic potatoes have been hit or miss when it comes to getting a new potato plant from a sprouting potato.
So if you have some potatoes lying around that are starting to sprout, you can take a piece of that potato with the sprout and plant it in the ground. Within a few weeks, you will start to have a new potato plant growing.
However if you want to be certain you get a good harvest, and get a new potato plant, it is best to use seed potatoes.
How many potatoes will I get from one plant?
If you have excellent growing conditions for your potato plant, you can get anywhere from 5 to 10 potatoes from each plant.
Watering Potato Plants
Potato plants need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
You might be able to get this from rain alone. But if not you can water your potato plants in between rains.
Make sure that the soil your potatoes are in is well-drained. While potato plants need a good amount of water, potatoes sitting in water that is not draining are not good.
During the first month after planting your potatoes, water isn’t as important as it is from day 30 to day 90 of the potato plant growth. From day 30 to day 90 you need to be sure that you are watering the plant sufficiently. After this, the tops of the plant will begin yellow. At this point, you will still need to water the potatoes, but it isn’t as critical as before.
How do you know when your potatoes are ready to harvest?
Once the potato plant foliage has turned brown and died off, remove the foliage and leave the potatoes for 10 days. After 10 days harvest you potatoes. Make sure to not leave the potatoes in the ground longer or else they will start to rot.
You will want to let your potatoes dry if they were in wet soil when you dig them up at harvest. Just be sure not to leave them laying out in the sun too long after harvest or the potatoes will start to turn green.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Potatoes are generous plants. They are easy to grow and produce abundant harvests. Give them the following and they will accept almost any planting situation:
- Full sun
- Loose, fertile soil
- 1” of water per week
You can grow potatoes in containers, pots, or a special “grow bag”. But in my experience, containers like these require constant attention to watering, and yield smaller harvests than growing in a raised bed.
I achieve an enormous harvest—enough to feed two for nearly a year—by planting potatoes in two 4′-x-8′ raised beds. The tubers are wildly productive in the well-draining, rock-free soil the beds provide, and the vines require deep watering only once each week.
Of all the root vegetables I grow, it is the potatoes that give me the biggest thrill at harvest time. I love to stick my hands in the soil and retrieve the buried bounty, with a yield of eight to ten potatoes for every one that I plant.
However you decide to grow your potatoes, the planting directions are the same.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 1: Choose Seed Potatoes
Start with organic, certified disease-free seed potatoes obtained from a catalog or farm store. (Grocery store potatoes that have been treated with a sprout-retardant are not suitable for planting.) If you buy from a farm store, as I do, try to select tubers which have already sprouted. Otherwise, pre-sprout them by simply laying them out on your kitchen counter. Pre-sprouted potatoes can be harvested a few weeks earlier than their non-sprouted kin.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 2: Separate the Eyes
Only small, golf ball-sized potatoes should be planted whole.
Cut large tubers into pieces. I cut mine so that each segment has two or three “eyes” (the little bumps from which sprouts emerge, as shown in the photo). The reason for cutting the potatoes is because the many eyes on a large potato will create a crowded, multi-stemmed plant, with each stem competing for food and moisture, and in the end, bearing only small potatoes.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 3: Cure the Cut Pieces
Next, “cure” the cut pieces. Either set them out in the sun, or place them on a table or counter in a warm (about 70°F), moderately lit room for three to five days. This step permits the cuts to become calloused. Calloused seed potatoes will help prevent rot.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 4: How & When to Plant Potatoes
Plant seed potato segments cut-side down (eyes up) in a 6-inch-deep hole or trench. Space each segment 12-inches apart on all sides.
Between each segment, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorous fertilizer. Then cover both potatoes and fertilizer with 2-inches of soil, and water the soil well.
When do you plant potatoes?
This will vary depending on where you live. Gardeners in warm climates often plant around Valentine’s Day, while those in cooler areas may get them into the ground near Easter, or early spring. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 3-4 weeks prior to your last frost date.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 5: Hill Around the Stems
Because new potatoes form on lateral stems, or “stolons” above the seed potato, it’s necessary to “hill” the vines. When the green sprouts achieve 8 inches in height, bury all but their top 4 inches with soil, chopped straw, or shredded leaves. Hill again when potato plants grow another 8 inches. The more you hill, the more prolific your harvest is likely to be. I usually hill mine to a height of 18 inches. Stop hilling when the vines flower.
Potato tubers, like vampires, need to live in darkness. In fact, they will turn green if exposed to light. And a green potato can cause sickness if consumed. Therefore it is absolutely essential to keep the tubers covered with soil or mulch.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 6: How & When to Harvest Potatoes
Two weeks after the vines have flowered, you can, if you wish, reach into the soil or mulch and retrieve a few baby potatoes. Otherwise, wait until the vines die back. Dead vines signal that the tubers have reached maturity. Now reach into the soil with your hands and pull the tubers up.
How long do potatoes take to grow? Small new potatoes can be ready as early as ten weeks. However, full sized potatoes take about 80-100 days to reach maturity.
Photo by: Kevin Lee Jacobs.
Step 7: Store Your Potatoes
Since my potatoes are grown for storage, I leave them in the ground until cool weather arrives. Why? Because potatoes will only store well if they are placed somewhere cold, but not freezing. The closet in my mudroom doesn’t cool off until the outside temperatures plunges to 45° at night. So harvest time for me is usually a sunny day in late October.
After digging the tubers, I let them sit on top of the raised beds for a few hours to dry, as illustrated. This brief drying-period toughens their skin, and prepares them for storage. Then I gently brush off any loose soil from the tubers, and place them in double thicknesses of paper bags.
More potato growing tips:
- If you don’t want to bother with hilling, plant your potatoes 8-9 inches deep. The downsides are: the potatoes take longer to sprout and your harvest might be smaller.
- Potatoes like slightly acidic soil (5.8-6.5 pH). Add fertilizer or composted manure for best results.
- When growing potatoes in containers, a good soil recipe is 1 part peat moss, 1 part organic potting soil and 1 part cow manure.
- If you want to make the task of weeding easier (and you have the space), plant your potatoes at least two feet apart so that you can weed around them easily.
Preventing Potato Blight
The dreaded fungal disease known as the “potato blight” (Phytophthora infestans) was responsible for the Irish potato famine and can destroy your entire crop, too. To reduce the chance of infection, never plant potatoes (or tomatoes and other members of the nightshade family, such as eggplants or chili peppers) in the same patch of land without leaving an interval of at least three years. Also, promptly remove any volunteer potatoes that emerge in your garden. The disease overwinters in tubers left behind during the previous year’s harvest.
How to plant potatoes
Planting potatoes is really easy, so much so that you can do it even in a pot.
Potatoes are undoubtedly one of the most recurrent foods in our kitchen and if you have a small vegetable garden in your home or have decided to grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables in your garden, you may also want to grow potatoes, something that is really easy as we see in the step guide below, in which we explain how to plant potatoes.
Growing potatoes is easier than you think. This operation allows gardeners to feel particularly satisfied, as each potato that is sown produces many others.
Originally from South America, potatoes have numerous beneficial properties and are rich in starch.
The ideal crop requires a mild climate and the choice of soil must also be precise, as it requires abundant water as well as a large amount of organic matter. Let us then see how to proceed.
Steps to planting potatoes
To grow potatoes properly in your home garden, you must make sure that the soil is fertile and constantly moist. Even its depth should not be underestimated, as it should be at least 60 cm.
The same applies if you want to plant potatoes in a pot. It is therefore necessary to make holes maintaining a distance of 40 cm and insert the potatoes into them in such a way as to favour the development of the shoots upwards. In this sense, it is advisable to execute the plantation in a row.
If you wish to obtain a large quantity of potatoes for boiling, it is necessary to form more rows, maintaining a distance of at least 70 cm between them, to facilitate correct growth. In addition, it will be good to cover the potatoes with a layer of soil of 7 or 8 centimeters.
At this point, we must wait until the end of the summer season and remember to water the plants often with care. It is advisable to cut the root of the plants slightly near the top two weeks before harvest. Once autumn has arrived, it is finally possible to devote oneself to potato harvesting.
If you grow potatoes in a pot, you’ll get lots of really tasty “new” potatoes that you can eat directly with your skin, after you’ve washed and brushed them.
Both rectangular and round pots are suitable, but must be more than 30 cm deep to allow the potatoes to develop. You can easily place the pot with your potatoes on the balcony.
As for the soil in the pot, the best yields are obtained in soils with organic substance, well ventilated and with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5.
With these simple steps you will be able to grow potatoes easily and problem-free all year round.
Posted on Published: April 1, 2014 Categories Life in the Garden, Potatoes
For someone trying to grow more of their own food – there may be no better choice to add to the garden plan than potatoes. They can be used at breakfast time, lunch time or dinner – and they can store well too – making them a great staple crop!
Potatoes can be used at every meal – one of our favorites is at breakfast!
Home grown potatoes are not only easy to grow – their taste is far superior to anything that can be purchased in the grocery store. Potatoes as a commercial crop tend to be highly sprayed and have been bred for storage and shipping ability – not for taste.
In reality – there are hundreds of varieties in all shapes, sizes and colors that burst with flavor – just waiting to be grown in your garden.
Our All-Blue organic potatoes we will be using for seed this year
There are still the staple Yukon Gold and Red Potatoes available for the home gardener. They do indeed taste much better than store-bought types when grown in the home garden – not to mention you can keep them from having sprays applied. But some of the lesser known and delicious types like Chieften (red), All Blue (blue), Banana (yellow fingerling) and Purple Majesty (purple) are as fun to grow as they are to eat – and are among our favorites.
Preparing To Plant
Although there are some varieties of potatoes that can actually be grown from seed – the best possible way for the home gardener to grow their own is from seed potatoes – which are nothing more that the potato itself – either small ones – or larger sizes cut up to have at least a few “eyes” on each piece. They eyes are nothing more than the little spots where tubers develop on those “I left them in the pantry too long” potatoes.
You will want to cut them about two days before you are ready to plant – this allows them time to form a protective layer around the cut and holds in moisture.
Potatoes pulled from our garden that have grown from a cut potato seed.
Plant potatoes in the cooler weather of spring. There is a lot of debate on when to plant. Here in Ohio, we like to plant ours in late April – a few weeks before our last normal frost date. Some will tell you after – some will say before – but you know gardeners :). The reality is – they both work – just depends on the weather!
Potatoes are well suited to rows or raised bed planting. You will want to dig a 3 to 5” trench – and then plant your potatoes 10 to 12” apart in the trench – making sure the eyes of the potato are facing up.
They really prefer loose soil – so if your soil is hard and clay-like – add a bit of sand and compost to the soil when planting.
Potatoes benefit from loose and well-drained soil
Cover up the potatoes with the dirt. Over the next few weeks – you can add a layer of dirt and even straw over the crop as they begin to grow – making sure to keep the tubers underground and out of the direct sunlight. This process of adding soil is often called hilling.
Keep your crop watered well – making sure the area gets a good inch of either rainfall or watering a week.
Light and Fluffy Mashed Potatoes – Ready To Serve – another great use for those potatoes in storage!
Always dig up your potatoes after you have had a few days of dry weather – harvesting when wet makes for all kinds of problems with storage and getting them to come out easily. We use a pitchfork and gently raise the soil from the edges to avoid damaging the crop.
Most potatoes planted in the spring will be ready for harvest anywhere from 9 to 11 weeks, usually in early July. Once the plants die off from the top – they are ready to harvest. Be sure to get them quickly at this point – if left in the soil too long they will begin to rot
Only brush off the dirt to clean them – do not wash – as it will lead to them decaying in storage. Store them in a cool, dark place.
Harvest time is also a great time to select you seed potatoes for next year. Hold back and store smaller ones to keep as planting stock – along with some nice medium-sized potatoes that have a lot of eyes. Only select firm and blemish free stock to keep them from rotting. Store these in the coolest, darkest place you can find.
A good rule of thumb for yields when planting and harvesting : 1 pound of potato seed stock will usually yield about 8 to 10 pounds of potatoes.
Rotate Your Crop
Potatoes do well when planted with onions, and carrots
One of the best ways to keep disease and pests problems away from your potato crops is to rotate where you plant it from year to year. In addition, when planting – never follow tomatoes with potatoes or vice-versa. They are from the same nightshade family, use similar resources from the soil, and both can be affected by the same blight that can be passed on through the soil.
Potatoes do well when planted around or with onions, beans, corn, cabbage or carrots. It is best to keep them away from cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
So make sure to add potatoes to your garden plan this year!
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