Spring is right around the corner and one of the first things we plant in the garden is Potatoes. We mark our planting date at on or around St. Patrick's Day.
The first thing to think about is which potatoes you choose. Many people will simply sow potatoes from the store – remnants from their cupboards, and often, sowing these can work perfectly well.
But if you want a better harvest, choosing high-quality seed potatoes can be a better idea. Certified seed potatoes will be disease free, and will have been specifically selected. Be sure to buy them from a reliable source. We get ours from Fedco , Johnny Seeds or Gurneys which our two great sources. You can also purchase them at most garden centers. Here is a great Potato Variety Chart
It is important to choose options which are suitable – not only for your culinary needs and preferences, but also for the climate and conditions where you live.
My hint – choose good quality heirloom varieties and you can save your own seed potatoes for next year. Over time, you can selectively breed by selecting the best, and over time, get better and better yields as the potatoes adapt for where you live.
2. Choose the Right Spot To Grow: In the Ground or in Containers?
Most of the time, potatoes are grown in the ground. But they can also be grown in raised beds or large containers. On a small scale, potatoes can even be grown in grow bags.
What Growing Conditions Do Potatoes Need? Potatoes can be grown in a wide range of locations, but it is important to remember that they are a cool weather crop. Temperatures are the main factor that will determine how well they will grow. Below 50 degrees F, and above 85 degrees F, the growth of the tubers will be sharply inhibited. This is why here in Indiana we plant early and harvest in Summer as the hot days
In cooler climate zones, this means growing them in a good, sunny spot. While in warmer climes, they may do better when provided with some shade during the hottest part of the day.
When it comes to soil/ growing medium, potatoes are a very accommodating plant. They can do well even where soil and growing conditions are not ideal.
The only soil types that could be problematic for potatoes are those which are saline, or alkaline in nature. A good quality loam, rich in organic matter, and slightly acidic, is the ideal soil type for growing potatoes.
Let's get growing: Once you have you starts and it is close to planting time you can do a few things to get ready to plant. Tubers are part of the stem of the plant and the little root like things you see popping out are called eyes. The eyes will grow into plants. So a day or so before planting you will want to cut your seed potatoes into pieces leaving 2 eyes on each piece. ( very small potatoes can be planted whole ) Let them sit in a cool dry place for a day or so and let the cut edges skin over a bit. This help prevent fungus growth when planting.
Time to plant: In the garden dig a 6 inch deep and 6 inch wide trench. I like to loosen up the soil in the bottom of the trench a bit to make it easy to grow. Next take your potato pieces and place them firmly in the bottom of the trench about 8 to 12 inches apart. Press them into the soil so the make good soil contact. Next cover them with 1" of soil. As your potatoes start to grow towards the sun you can cover the plants leaving just a few inches of the plant above the soil. Continue to mound around the plant as it grows taller. The buried stems will produce more potatoes as you mound.
Harvesting potatoes: The plant will continue to grow until the weather becomes to hot and it dies off. After the plant dies it is time to harvest. Using a spud fork ( stiff pitch fork ) to pop soil up and find spuds being careful not poke potatoes. I end up hand digging a lot pretending I am digging for gold ( Yukon Gold)
Here are some tips on storing potatoes from https://www.thespruceeats.com/
How to Store Your PotatoesThis is an easy process, but it should be followed precisely for the best results.
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