Growing Potatoes-From Planting to Harvest
For many years I refused to grow potatoes in my garden because they’re not that expensive to buy in the grocery store. However, I eventually decided the main purpose of my garden wasn’t just to save money, but to provide my family with fresher, healthier food options. Plus, the taste of home grown vegetables is always far superior to that purchased in a store.
Here are a few things I learned along the way that might help you if you decide to add a potato patch to your vegetable garden.
Potatoes need to be planted in early spring. It can still be somewhat cool when they’re planted. It will be two or three weeks before they start to emerge from the ground.
Don’t try to use store bought potatoes for seed. They are sometimes sprayed with chemicals to keep the eyes from sprouting which is the opposite of what you need in your garden. There is also the chance of the potatoes carrying disease. Buy certified seed potatoes that are guaranteed to be healthy.
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There are many varieties of potatoes. Some are considered “earlies” and provide new potatoes in summer. Others are referred to as “maincrop” and provide larger potatoes that can be stored for fall or winter.
Some of the most popular types are: Accent, Picasso, Yukon Gold, White Rose, and Russet.
Keep the seed potatoes refrigerated until one week before planting. Then you can place it in the sunshine so it will be ready to sprout.
You can cut the seed potatoes up and plant the pieces if you want. But make sure there are two or three eyes per section. Also, be sure and cut them up several days before you plant them so the cut edges will have dried.
Always plant potatoes where they will get full sun. They don’t grow well in soil that is too wet or too shaded.
Potatoes are light feeders so you won’t need much fertilizer. They do need soil that’s a little acidic so don’t use any lime where you plan to plant them. I sometimes use organic fertilizer such as fish meal.
You can plant potatoes in rows or in mounds. I use rows so that means one plant every fifteen or so inches. If you choose to plant in mounds you can place around five or six plants in each mound. The mound should be four feet across and about three feet apart.
The seeds should be planted around six inches deep.
One thing I learned to watch for when growing potatoes was when to mound them. After the plant is seven or eight inches tall I mound some dirt around the stem of the plant. I do this every time I see the potato poking out of the dirt. It’s not good for the growing potatoes to be in direct sunshine. I usually add an inch or so of soil a week to keep them covered.
You can start harvesting potatoes 2 weeks after they stop flowering. I like the taste of new potatoes so I like to harvest them when they’re still small. But you can wait until they’re larger if you choose.
Tips for storing potatoes after harvesting. Potatoes can be kept for several months if you store them in a dark, cool place, around 35 – 40 degrees. Always keep them dry. Make sure you clean off all of the dirt on the potatoes using a brush or washing them if grown in a clay like soil.
Learning to grow you’re own potatoes may take some work. But it’s not hard once you’ve done it for a year or two. If you’re like me, once you’ve eaten a homegrown potato you won’t want to go back to store bought.