Grow Your Own Potatoes
Potatoes are planted in spring, as soon as the ground is warm enough to work in. You do not want to plant potatoes too early, when the soil is still pretty cold from winter, and the weather is cold and rainy, because your potato chunks might just sit there too long before sprouting, and start rotting.
It is very easy to grow potatoes, since all you need is a chunk of a potato, which contains at least 1-2 buds, called eyes, like this one:
- Select a place to plant them, and have some patience, since it takes 3-6 months before they are ready to harvest, but during all this time they require very little additional care.
- One potato has enough eyes to easily be cut into 2 or 3 chunks, which means you can get at least 2-3 plants from one potato. It is best to use potatoes which start growing sprouts from their eyes, before you plant them, but that is not necessary.
- Potatoes are normally planted in the spring, and most of them are ready to harvest in early fall, but some become ready even sooner.
- Once you have your potato chunks ready for planting, you dig up a small hole in your garden soil, a little larger than the potato, and deep enough to cover the potato with at least 1 inch of soil.
- Place your potato in the hole, cover with soil, and pat it down to firm up the soil.
- Since the spring weather is not that hot, you do not need to water it, or do anything special.
- After 1o-14 days, your potato chunks will start poking out of the ground, and few dark green leaves will start forming on a short stalk.
- Once the plant is about 8 inches tall, you need to form a dirt mound around it, to support it and to provide a good home for the growing potatoes, as new potatoes form under ground, soon after the plant stops blooming.
- You also need to watch for potato beetles, nesting on the leaves, and pick them off, to prevent larvae from devel0ping, which will eat up your potato leaves and stalks, and weaken, or destroy the potato. If you are not having an organic garden you can use Sevin pesticide and follow manufacturer’s suggested application directions.
- You can check for new potatoes in about a month after blooming, since you might be able to feel some big enough to be picked off for immediate use, and leave untouched the small ones, to give them a chance to grown.
- Very new potatoes do not need to be peeled. You can just wash them, and boil with the very think skin on, and eat them that way as well, or you can easily scrape the paper thin potato skin before boiling.
- Once the potatoes reach their full term, the skin gets firmer and will not be able to be scraped off, but will need to be peeled.
- You will know when to harvest your full grown potatoes, since the leaves and stalks will start drying out, or even totally dry off.
- To harvest potatoes, you need to gently use a hoe and dig around the main bush, in at least a 10 inch diameter, and as deep as 6 inches. Larger potatoes settle themselves deeper than the smaller ones.
- If the potato plant still has firm enough branches, you can gather them all together and pull out the plant from the ground, which will also pull out some of the potatoes, but you need to look for more in the 10 inch diameter area, as you will most definitely find more potatoes.
- Once you dug up all your potatoes, you can bury the potato branches in your garden patch, to turn them into compost.
- If you plan to plant potatoes next year again, you should fertilize the soil with cow manure, or other organic fertilizers.
- Here is my potato crop from one chunk of a potato, with 2 eyes:
This means that your crop from one whole potato (cut into 2-3 chunks), will double or triple in quantity of this one. And just think of the money you will save by planting your own potatoes, plus enjoy the wonderful, fresh taste of home grown potatoes.
This year I have planted 6 Yukon Gold potato chunks (seen above), which I cut up from one whole potato, and am looking forward to a nice crop of potatoes, sometimes in late August, or early September.
I would like to hear from you, if you are growing potatoes in your garden, and which variety is your favorite.