Grow Potatoes: At Home in Pots + Ground
Potatoes are such a widely celebrated vegetable – and for a good reason! They have such a wide range of uses and are a staple in almost every diet. Grow your own potatoes at home in the ground and in pots.
Potatoes are also a very low-maintenance vegetable, and nothing takes quite as good as a fresh, home-grown, baked potato. But you’ll have to find out for yourself!
Grow Food Easily has all the details here you need to successfully grow potatoes, so let’s begin.
Details for Growing Potatoes
|Planting Months||March, April, or May|
|Harvest Months||10 weeks after planting|
|Temperature to Plant||40 F +|
|Planting Depth||6-8 inches deep|
|Spacing||8-12 inches apart|
|Direction||North to south|
|Drainage||Well-drained avoiding rotting|
|pH Level||4.8 to 5.5 pH|
|Companion Plants||Carrot, onion, asparagus, fennel, turnip|
|Health Benefits||High in Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, magnesium, Vitamin B6; low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol|
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Seven Steps to Growing Potatoes
The great thing about potatoes is that they are highly adaptable and can grow in almost any soil, as long as it is not damp or acidic. Ensure your potatoes are planted in soil that is fertile, well-drained, and rich in organic matter.
Alkaline soil enriches the crop size, but also may cause a skin condition called scab. In general, it is best to keep the pH level of your soil at 4.8 to 5.5.
Soil pH Testing
You need to make sure that you accurately test your soil to give your plants the best chance.
It is quite difficult to grow potatoes from seeds, as the genetics of the seed are unpredictable and thus can be difficult to manage. If you choose to grow your potatoes from seeds, you should start indoors and in seedling trays.
Place one seed on top of a soil-filled cell and try and cover with water. Ensure that you do not cover the seed as potatoes require light to germinate.
Soil Temperature For Germination
The best soil temperature to induce germination is 65-80 F, and the seeds will germinate within 6-10 days. During germination, ensure the soil is moist but still drained. Water early in the day, so the cells are not wet overnight.
As a general rule of thumb, potato seedlings need about 12 hours of light per day. Your seeds should be ready to transfer within 4 to 6 weeks after seeding.
To transplant potatoes, the soil first needs to be hardened. This should take place about a week before your transplant. To do so, place the potato outside for at first, one hour, then gradually increase the time until they are ready to plant.
If you want to transplant your potatoes to a pot, ensure you do so about 3 weeks before harvest.
The first step when planting potatoes is to prepare the spot where you want them to grow. The location should receive a large amount of sunlight. Ensure the soil is ready to plant with a bit of compost mixed in, and that there are no obstructions. Don’t forget to rake in some fertilizer two weeks before planting your potatoes.
Next, you will need to create holes in the ground around 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Ensure you space the potatoes out enough, about 8-12 inches apart. Make sure you evenly dampen the soil before planting.
To transplant the potatoes, cut the soil around the plant with a garden shovel. Ensure you are careful not to damage the potato itself. Use your hands to gently pull the plant up, ensuring it is packed in as much soil as possible. Quickly then place it in the hole you have prepared.
If your potatoes were not grown from seedlings but instead in a container, you can transplant them by upturning the container and tapping out the bottom, while keeping a firm hand on the top of the soil.
In the ground
Once your potatoes are in the ground, gently smooth down the soil around them. Water thoroughly. If you plan to grow your potatoes in a pot or containers, you first need to prepare. Fill your container with 4 to 6 inches of soil. Ensure the soil is firmly packed. The bottom of the pot should not be visible after this process is complete.
Next, place your potatoes in the soil with the eye facing upwards. Ensure the potatoes are spaced evenly apart. Once positioned, press into the soil. Then, cover your tubers with another 6 inches of soil, completely covering the potatoes. Lastly, water the pot until it begins to drain.
To transplant potatoes, the soil first needs to be hardened. This should take place about a week before your transplant. To do so, place the potato outside for at first, one hour, then gradually increase the time until they are ready to plant. If you want to transplant your potatoes to a pot, ensure you do so about 3 weeks before harvest.
For potatoes in the ground, it is advised to keep the soil damp but not totally wet. This usually looks like around 2 inches per week. When the plant is young, you can water it every 4-5 days, but as it ages increase this to once every 2 days.
If the plant begins to turn yellow, you know you are overwatering.
How Much To Water
For potted potatoes, you should water when the top 2 inches of the soil dry out. You can determine this with your hand. You need only add enough water until it starts to drain. When it is warmer, you may need to increase the frequency of watering.
Potatoes are a very hardy vegetable to grow, and as long as you keep them healthy by watering consistently and allowing for plenty of sunlight, they should be happy. However, they are susceptible to a variety of diseases/pests which need to be taken care of quickly if under attack.
If you want to harvest new potatoes, then they will be ready 2 to 3 weeks after the plant has ceased flowering. If you’re going to harvest mature potatoes, you should wait for 2 to 3 weeks after the flowers have perished.
Cut the dead foliage away and wait out the 2-3 weeks to allow the potato skin to harden. Ensure you choose a dry day to begin harvesting.
Harvest From the ground
Using a garden trowel, prise the potatoes up carefully and take care not to damage the tubers. If you find the soil to be too wet, allow the potatoes to dry before storing.
Once harvested, allow the potatoes to sit in a dry, cool place for no more than 2 weeks. This enables their skins to cure and thus lengthens their shelf life.
Once cured, brush off any excess soil and store it in a cool, dark place at a temperature of around 40 F. It is important to remember not to store your potatoes with apples, as it will make them spoil faster.
Aphids, potato blight, the Colorado potato beetle, and bacterial rot are all threats to the potato. You will most likely be able to tell by the leaves of the potato that they are under attack. You can pick off the insects manually, or use a pest control of your choice.
However, as previously stated, potatoes are relatively resilient, and as long as you use a good fertilizer regularly and keep an eye on them, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about them being under threat.
One of the issues people have is that their crops produce all at once. The best way to overcome this is with a dehydrator so you can store your food for years and the flavor is amazing.
Another good tip is to ensure you don’t wash your potatoes until right before you use them, as this shortens their storage life.
Potatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator, and it is also advised against freezing them as due to their high-water content they will lose their firmness and flavor.
For more guides on making your garden successful, visit our blog for more food-growing guides.