Learning how to grow potatoes is an easy task as these root crops are one of the easiest to learn to grow. You can find varieties that will grow in almost any area, you can pick them at any stage and they are okay to eat. Just remember, reading about how to grow potatoes is not enough, you will need to actually get off the couch and put these tips into practice.
There are potatoes varieties that will grow in almost any soil type, but a sandy soil with good drainage is best. The good drainage will permit earlier planting. Poor drainage will produce oddly shaped potatoes and they may rot.
Buying and Preparing Seed Potatoes
Buy certified seed potatoes from reputable source about two weeks before you plan to plant. Certified seed potatoes mean that the seeds are free of diseases. Do not use potatoes from the grocery store as these may be treated to prevent or slow sprouting. You can try to keep potatoes from your first batch for the next year if you want.
About two weeks before planting “green-sprout” the seed potatoes in a room with lots oCredit: PDf light and high moisture. “Green-sprouting” means allowing the potato to grow some strong sprouts and will allow quicker growing when planted. Lay the potatoes out flat, and turn them every 4 days to ensure sprouts all over the potatoes.
Seed potatoes of approximately 2 inches are best. If the potatoes that were bought are larger, cut them into pieces of 2 ounces cubes, with each piece having at least one eye. The eyes are where the sprouts will grow out of. Cut the potatoes into seed pieces the day before planting, to allow the cuts to harden.
Varieties of Potatoes
Most potato varieties take 90-110 days to grow. All potatoes grow best when the soil is between 60 and 70 degrees. Plant so that when the plant is maturing the temperature will be in that range. This will usually be 2-4 weeks before the last spring frost date. Ask when buying your seed potatoes what variety will be best for your area.
Planting of Potatoes
Plant potatoes in the spring when the soil has dried out and has warmed to 45 degrees. Dig rows three feet apart, four to six inches deep and place the seep potatoes you have prepared in the rows eight inches apart. Cover the seeds with two inches of soil.
As the potatoes grow, cover the bottom third of the plant with straw or hay. Do this several times through the first part of the growing season.
After the pants have blossomed, harvesting of potatoes can be done. Brush the straw away, and pick any potatoes you want to use. Push the straw back over the plants and potatoes that are still on the plant. The potatoes need covered to prevent green spots forming on the potatoes.
Growing in Small Spaces
If space is an issue, there are ways of growing potatoes in containers or small spaces. When planting with these methods or any that involve the plant being above the ground, water more often as the water will drain faster and the plant will dry out.
Take a bag of garden or potting soil and set it on its end. Poke holes in the bag for water drainage. Open the bag half way and plant the seed potatoes in the soil. As the plant grow, pull the bag up and cover the plant with soil or straw as mentioned above. Do this several times. Credit: PD - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Patates.jpg
A box or trashcan can be used the same way. Put the seed potatoes at the bottom and cover with several inches of soil, then as the plant grows, cover with soil, straw or hay.
Watering of Growing Potatoes
Water regularly to ensure normal potato growth. If the plants are over watered, black spots may develop. Irregular watering may result in odd shaped potatoes.
Storage of Potatoes
Go through the potatoes and use immediately any potatoes that have bad spots or any nicks. Store the others in a dark humid area about 37 degrees. Keep them away from dampness, off of the floor, and provide circulation.
Try not to plant in the same area more than once every three years. In the years between crops, plant corn, cabbage and vine crops. Avoid tomatoes, legumes and strawberries and these crops are susceptible to similar diseases as the potatoes. Growing a cover crop like oats, ryegrass or clover between years may also be an option.
Growing your own potatoes is easy to do. Just jump in and do it. Learning how to grow potatoes will be a satisfying experience.