How To Grow Potatoes
If you’ve ever tasted a fresh potato straight from the garden, you’ll never want to buy them from the grocery store again. When it comes to a “must plant” vegetable in our garden, potatoes always come up at the top of the list. And they’re just plain fun to grow and harvest!
There are almost as many ways to grow potatoes as there are to cook them. We’ll start with seed selection. Never plant potatoes from the grocery store, or ones you’ve kept from last year for that matter. Buy certified seed potatoes from a nursery or seed catalog.
I usually try to pick out smaller potatoes, around the size of a golf ball. As long as they have 3 eyes, they are ready for planting. You can certainly select larger tubers, but a little extra prep work is involved.
Larger potatoes need to be cut into 2″ pieces before planting. Make sure every piece has at least 3 eyes, otherwise they might not grow. After cutting, let them dry out for a couple of days so they can heal. After a couple of days have passed, place them in a paper bag with a little bit of agricultural sulfur and gently shake the bag so the cut ends are evenly dusted. This helps to prevent diseases and wards off bugs looking for a starchy snack. Now it’s planting time!
What usually works best for us is to dig out a trench 4″-8″ deep. Work plenty of compost into the base of the trench, we usually mix in some organic fertilizer as well. Cover them with an inch or two of soil and wait for the leaves to sprout up.
Once the leaves are about a foot tall, hill them up by covering all but the top 2-3 inches of the plant. You can use soil, though some people prefer straw or sawdust to make digging easier in the long run.
We usually repeat this process one more time, after they have grown another foot. You should now have a nice hill of potatoes.
Caring For Potatoes
Keep them regularly watered as they continue to grow, especially once they start flowering. During the flowering stage is when all of the new baby potatoes are being formed, they will need water to grow.
When the leaves start turning yellow, hold off on watering, as the tubers will be maturing for the next few weeks.
You can start harvesting the baby “new” potatoes a week or two after the flowering stage. Gently dig around underneath the plant and you should feel some waiting for you.
For the main harvest, wait a couple weeks after the tops have completely died back. You can loosen the soil gently with a pitchfork, but you should dig for them by hand. You don’t want to end up spearing one of your precious potatoes!
Potato Beatles, Potato Root Nematode, Aphids, Thrips, Mites
Potato Blight, Powdery Mildew, Powdery Scab
Yukon Gold, Russet Burbank, Red Norland
Tips For Growing Potatoes
Keep your potatoes covered with soil, don’t allow exposure to sunlight. If exposed, you will notice them starting to turn green. Green potatoes contain solanine, a toxic compound harmful to humans.