I can still remember the first time I enjoyed a potato that I had planted, harvested and cooked fresh from the garden, just heaven! Garden fresh potatoes, especially new potatoes, are much sweeter and moister than store purchased potatoes. In addition, the varieties that you can grown are so extensive compared to the 3 or 4 typically found in most markets, that “why wouldn’t you grow your own if possible?”
For a successful potato crop start just follow these easy planting tips:
- Start with certified organic and certified virus-free potato seed.
- Pre-sprout, or ‘chit’ your potato seed before planting. You can read more about sprouting or chitting your seed potatoes here.
- Plant seed potatoes 2 weeks before the frost date for your area.
- Prepare your planting bed with amendments if needed. Potatoes perform better and have higher yields in well-drained garden soil, that is loose in texture. You will also prefer harvesting potatoes in nice, loose dry
soil rather than digging potatoes out of clay. I like to add in a layer of Down to Earth Rock and Chicken before planting potatoes to add a little calcium to the soil. You can also add in Bone Meal. Mix the amendments into the soil thoroughly before planting.
- Planting potatoes in rows in the garden is a popular way to plant. If you are limited on space you can grow them in grow bags, raised beds or large containers. Set your rows 12-24 inches apart. Plant the potato seed 4-6 inches deep and 12-18 apart in the rows. Each potato seed should have at least 2-3 good eyes.
- Top with garden soil and water in well.
- Continue watering as needed, letting the soil dry out in between watering.
- As potatoes grow up, mound the dirt up around the plant to create a hill. This will make harvesting baby potatoes easier.
- When the plants start to flower you can start to harvest baby potatoes by gently pulling them off of the sides of the mound under the soil. The foliage of most potato varieties will let you know the crop is ready for mature harvest by dying back down to soil level. If your plants are over achievers and are still growing, you can break back the top growth to stop the potatoes from growing any bigger.
- Mature potatoes should be left in the ground for 2 weeks after the plants have died or been cut back. This ‘curing’ allows the skins to set which increases their storage time.