Gardening 101: Planting Potatoes
Fishing through the soil for spuds you have grown yourself is like digging for gold. At least I think so… 🙂 And they are exceptionally easy to grow not just in the garden but also in small space container gardening. <<—- (Look for a post on this later…) Here's how to do it in-ground.
1. Plant potatoes in spring as early as several weeks before the last frost, once the soil has sufficiently dried out.
2. Potatoes like to be planted deeply in loose, nutrient rich, and moist soil. To prep your planting area mix in Master Nursery’s Bumper Crop Compost along with Dr. Earth’s #5 Tomato, Veggie, and Herb Organic Fertilizer (both give strong results, these are my favorites and our customer favorites for planting veggies)
3. Buy seed potatoes and cut them so that each piece has one to three eyes in it. Allow them to cure for 3 to 4 days in a cool, dry place so their surfaces harden. Using seed potatoes to start your crop will ensure that they are disease-free and bred to stay true to type. They may even be pre-sprouted when you buy, which will save you time.
4. Plant them at least 8 inches deep so that the potatoes have soil above the eye to grow. Later on you can use the resulting potato harvest to plant again the following year.
CARING FOR A POTATO: For in-ground potatoes, have mulch or straw on hand throughout the summer to add on top of the potato bed. This will help keep weeds at bay and ensure that the potatoes don’t come in contact with direct sunlight, which will turn them green and inedible. Potatoes are drought tolerant but thrive when watered regularly in small doses after the tubers are marble-sized.
HARVEST TIME: Potatoes can be harvested through-out the summer and early fall, and stored through the winter. Check their size by digging up a few tubers and if full-size for their variety, use your hands or a garden fork/shovel to dig deep and carefully around the areas where you have planted. Early mid-season potatoes are ready when there are purple or white flowers blooming in the foliage above ground, but late-season potatoes can be left in the ground weeks after the tops whither.
STORING A POTATO: Once harvested, lay potatoes out in the sun for a few hours to dry, then brush off the dirt (don’t wash them) before storing them. This will cure them for storage, allowing their skin to fully set. They should be stored in a dark and dry place like a cellar, basement, or cabinet away from any heaters.
SEED POTATOES OVER GROCERY STORE VARIETIES, WHY?: This is a very common question come spring time. Here’s why you would choose organic seed potatoes over plain supermarket varieties: 1. It is uncommon to find more than a few varieties of potatoes at a supermarket, yet there are thousands that we have never tasted before. The range of potato flavors varies from waxy to floury with names like Rose Finn Apple, Yellow Finn, and Banana.
2. Supermarket varieties are bred to be smooth-skinned and perfect, and are sprayed regularly with a growth inhibitor to keep the eyes from sprouting. (Remember, the more eyes a potato has, the better they will sprout as seeds and yield more potatoes.)