How To Grow Potatoes

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I first began to learn how to grow potatoes on my grandfather's small farm in Minnesota. For our family, potatoes were a nutritious part of at least one meal almost every day. 

How to Grow Potatoes

We continued to grow potatoes, and teach our children how to grow potatoes, as we raised our family on our own small organic farm.

It is surprising to me that more home gardeners do not grow potatoes. They are one of the easiest root crops to grow. Two or three hills do not take up much space and growing potatoes does not require a lot of work. A small area in your yard or garden will provide a nice yield of this tasty vegetable. 

Growing potatoes in containers is fun and easy. You can grow potatoes in barrels, in pots in small spaces , in straw, and you can even grow potatoes in tires!

A few seed potatoes, a plot of soil, or even some large containers, and you will harvest a tasty potato crop.

New types of potatoes continue to be developed and potatoes can be grown in almost any part of the world. 

A first step in learning how to grow potatoes is to know where to plant them. The site you choose should get full sun and have light, well-drained soil. There are many ways to create your potato garden:

  • Potato hills: This is the most common method for planting potatoes. Loosen the soil and place two or three seed potatoes on the ground. Cover or "hill" three to four inches of soil over the seed potato. Space hills about a foot apart.
  • Deep-planting method: Plant the seed potatoes in an 1 8 inch deep furrow or trench you have dug in your garden. Fill 1/2 the depth of the furrow with a mixture of compost, mulch, straw and garden soil. Place the seed potatoes in the trench 8 - 12 inches apart and cover with loose garden soil and mulch.
  • Mulching method: Dig a shallow trench and set in seed potatoes about 12 inches apart. Cover them with about 4 inches of soil. Pile a thick layer of mulch around the stems when the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, leaving the foliage exposed. Keep mulching as the plants grow. The potatoes will form inside the layer of mulch.
  • Above the ground: People in Scandinavian countries often grow potatoes in stacks of straw or other mulching material. Seed potatoes are planted in the straw; as the vines begin to grow, more straw` or mulch is mounded around the base of the plants. The result is a harvest of very clean potatoes. New potatoes can be easily picked even before the potato vines mature completely.
  • Raised beds: If your soil is too heavy to grow potatoes, this is an ideal solution. You can also grow potatoes by stacking two tires one on top of another and filling the center with soil, in black plastic bags filled with soil or almost any other large container you have.
The Complete Book of Potatoes: What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know

With Just a Few Tips, You Can Learn How to Grow Potatoes in Several Ways

How to Grow Potatoes

The most environmentally friendly potatoes are grown this way... in Japan! Make a potato pot by cutting out the sides of a plant pot and putting it inside another one - this makes it easier to lift the plants out for harvesting.

How to Grow Potatoes from Potatoes

A potato seed, or "seed potato" is simply a potato that has developed "eyes." If you have had some potatoes on hand for a while you may find that they have begun to grow sprouts from indentations in their flesh. These are the beginnings of new potato plants and can be planted to grow your crop. While you can use potatoes you have on hand, the best results can be achieved by purchasing seed potatoes from your garden store or seed catalog. Store-bought potatoes have been sprayed with a chemical that inhibits sprouting though they can usually still produce a crop.

Some seed potato tips:

  • Plant 2-inch-diameter, ("B" size) seed potatoes whole. Cut larger seed potatoes them pieces with two or three eyes in each.
  • Allow your cut "seeds" to remain unplanted for a day or two and they will develop a thick "callous" over the cuts, which helps prevent rotting once planted.
  • Plant seed potatoes with the eyes facing up and, in general, about 5 inches deep and 12-14 inches apart.
  • You will use about 5-8 pounds of seed potatoes seeds to plant a 100 foot row.

A Few More Tips on How to Grow Potatoes:

  • Fertilize: Fertilize soil before planting with composted manure. (Fresh manure will burn the developing potatoes.) Then fertilize every two to four weeks with a fertilizer for potatoes that contain low levels of nitrogen, and high levels of phosphorus. 6-24-24, or 8-24-24, are good fertilizers for potatoes.
  • Weed: Keep weeds to a minimum, but do not cultivate too near the plants as the roots and tubers are relatively shallow.
  • Water: Water your seed potatoes when you first plant them and whenever the soil becomes dry. Do not overwater as it will cause the potatoes to rot and develop diseases.
  • Pests: Destroy insects as soon as they appear. Some typical potato bugs include the Colorado potato beetle, red slugs and blister beetles. If you are just growing a few potatoes, you can pick the pests off the plants by hand. For a larger crop, you may need to spray. Consult your local gardening store about chemicals that are safe, legal and effective.
  • Diseases: Potatoes can be affected by blight and mildew problems. Fungicides will help with fungus diseases.
  • Rotate: Planting your potato crop in a new location each year will help reduce the likelihood of pests and diseases that remain in the soil.

Learn how to grow potatoes and anticipate the harvest!

Note: Potatoes exposed to sunlight will turn green. They then produce a toxin that is poisonous to you. Discard any potato that is green. Storing potatoes properly will ensure that you have tasty spuds for many months.

How to Grow Potatoes

Reasons for Growing Potatoes

Types of Potatoes

Seed Potatoes

Planting Potatoes

Harvesting Potatoes

Storing Potatoes

Potato Bugs

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