How to Grow Potatoes
Instructions for Growing Potatoes
in Your Garden
*** Growing Potatoes is: Easy! ***
This South American vegetable is grown in home gardens for its starchy tubers (roots). Rumor has it that many years ago, Europeans were very suspicious about, even feared potatoes. Potato's popularity thrived from its ability to grow both at high altitudes and in colder temperatures (places where corn, another common starch staple, couldn't). You can grow potatoes of a vaiety of colors: cream, red, purple, and even blue.
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - we recommend growing an early variety of potatoes for summer use, and growing a later variety for winter storage.
Potatoes are also considered a cleaning crop. By growing potatoes in a new garden space will help prepare the soil for other plants in other seasons.
While the yield is small, some gardeners with very large containers are successful in growing potatoes in the pots.
Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Chromium, Iron, Manganese, Vitamin C, B6
Growing potatoes can be successful in nearly any climate, but watch the timing. Potatoes don’t care for extreme heat or for frost.
Select a sunny spot with full sun when growing potatoes.
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - Review companion planting. Not all plants are good neighbors for potatoes.
Potatoes grow best in well-drained soil. Also, the garden soils must be friable (crumbly) and high in compost/organic matter when growing potatoes. The looser (and deeper) your potato garden soil, the bigger your potatoes can grow.
For your most productive efforts in growing potatoes, the soil pH should be 5.0-6.5. (See how to test soil pH level)
Planting time depends largely upon the variety used. Check the instructions for growing potatoes from your nursery or supplier. Generally speaking, you can plant potatoes as soon in the spring as the garden soil can be worked.
Unlike most other garden plants, with potatoes, you will plant "seed pieces." Seed pieces are chunks of potatoes with eyes (sprouts).
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - Potato tubers that have grown sprouts prior to being planted will yield better than those without sprouts.
- If you leave only one sprout on the seed-tuber, you will get in return a few very large potatoes.
- If two sprouts are left, you'll have a larger number of large to medium sized potatoes.
- If three sprouts are left, you'll get a larger number of small potatoes.
Plant seed pieces in rows that are two feet apart. Dig the rows 6” deep, then add a layer of fertilizer along the bottom (some sources recommend up to 2" of fertilizer. Use your own discretion, based upon the quality of your garden soil). Then cover the fertilizer with 2" of garden soil. Then set the seed pieces 14" apart. Fill in the rest of the space with soil and rake evenly.
Another method of growing potatoes is to simply cover the seed pieces with 10” of decomposing straw or mulch, then 4” of rich crumbly soil. Keep moist. The potatoes grow in the straw.
As the plant grows, hill dirt up around it for support and to keep sunlight and insects from the potatoes growing beneath.
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - Weed the bed, but be careful not to disturb the potato's root system when pulling weeds. We recommend mulching heavily with hay or straw.
Water potatoes regularly over the gardening season to promote smoother and bigger tubers. Cut back on watering as you near harvesting. You may have success in using the channels between rows for more effectively irrigating when growing potatoes.
Note: Cut back a bit on watering when the plant tops die back, near harvest time.
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - Mulching will protect the tubers, keep the ground evenly moist, and help increase your crop yield.
Fertilize with compost tea or a similar liquid fertilizer every two weeks throughout the growing season. (This helps keep your potatoes healthy & ward off diseases such as blight.)
Potato moth is a common pest when growing potatoes. It will attack any potato tubers that peak out of the garden soil. Solution: Keep the new potatoes covered.
The Colorado Potato Beetle (below) can also cause trouble (see potato beetles).
Aphids can be a problem, particularly in that they can spread mosaic disease.
Gardening climates high in humidity, often see blight (a fungus infestation). Remember, don't compost or recycle infected plants. Remove them immediately from your garden and dispose of them.
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - Practice good vegetable gardening by rotating your crops throughout your garden space with each new season. This prevents many plant diseases.
Once the leaves have turned yellow, you can harvest small “new” or young potatoes. However, for larger potatoes, wait until the plant dies down completely, then carefully lift/dig the potatoes.
Gardening Tip for Growing Potatoes - Be gentle when harvesting. It is easy to bruise potatoes or damage the skin (causes them to rot in storage).
Harvest the potatoes promptly when the leaves die down. There is no advantage to leaving the plants in your garden for a longer period.
After they’ve been dug, leave the potatoes on the ground in your garden (in dry weather) for no longer than three hours to harden the skins before storing. (If exposed longer, they’ll turn green and become unusable.)
Store potatoes in burlap or paper sacks in a cool dark cellar (the ideal temperature is around 45 degrees(F)).
Periodically examine your potatoes in storage for rotting. Promptly remove any rotten potatoes, so they don’t spoil the rest of your harvested crop.
Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.