Learning how to grow potatoes for your garden will help you grow a vegetable that's high in nutrients and antioxidants. The measure of antioxidants (per 100 grams) in a baked potato skin is more than double that of a raw carrot.
Additionally, a medium baked potato has 20% of your required daily intake of potassium (more than a banana!). The benefits of potassium include; relief from anxiety and stress, assistance in metabolism, and, maintaining the electrical conductivity of the brain(better brain function!).
Therefore, we'd like to encourage you that learning how to grow potatoes in your garden is a great way to help you (and those you share your vegetables with) maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Planting Potatoes - Where to Start
When thinking about how to grow potatoes, it is important know that growing potatoes can be accomplished almost anywhere you have fertile, well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine.
Growing Potatoes - Step by Step
Potatoes are grown from pieces of tuber that contain the "eyes", which are the tiny depressions in the skin from which the sprouts grow. After being planted, these pieces of potato will grow leafy vines above the soil, and clusters of potatoes below ground. The preference is to order/buy certified disease-free seed potatoes.
Note: Ensure that you do not use store-bought potatoes for seed, as they can be treated with chemicals that prevent growth.
Cut the seed potatoes into small pieces the size of a walnut, ensuring that each piece has at least one "eye". Let these pieces cure by placing in a bright, airy place until the cut surfaces harden and the pieces dry slightly. This usually takes 1 or 2 days.
Preparing the Soil
Potatoes prefer a soil that is loose, well-drained, and high in organic matter. In Fall, or early Spring, the soil you have allocated for growing potatoes should be cultivated with well-rotted manure or compost.
You can mix in 3-5 inches of manure/compost, but ensure that you mix well with the soil. The planted potato pieces can be injured by clumps of manure/compost. Quick Note: Potatoes prefer a soil that is more acidic, and can tolerate a pH around 5.2.
When and How to Plant Potatoes - Furrows
Potatoes can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked (ground temperature above 5°C).
Here are the steps for planting potatoes:
- Dig furrows that are 4 inches deep, 3 inches wide.
- If you plan on planting multiple rows of potatoes, set the rows approximately 3 feet apart.
- Set the pieces of tuber 1 foot apart.
- Cover the pieces with ~3 inches of soil.
After approximately three weeks from planting, sprouts will begin to push up through the ground. Once this has occurred, mound loose dirt, leaves, straw or compost, around the sprouts. Mounding is important for growing potatoes because it covers and protects the tubers.
Mound again once the plants are about 8 inches high (mound up to half of the height of the plant). Continue mounding around the potato plant as it grows. You will probably end up adding about an inch/week to the growing mound.
Growing potatoes requires moist soil (this is the guidleline). Water potatoes in the morning so that the potato plants are dry by the evening. If the plants are wet at night, they are more susceptible to disease.
Weeding correctly is an important consideration when learning how to grow potatoes. Weeding keeps nutrient-stealing plants away from your potatoes and keeps the soil loose, which is important for growing potatoes.
To weed potatoes, cultivate shallowly with a hoe. The tubers can be close to the surface and will be easily damaged.
Now that we've learned how to grow potatoes, it's time to enjoy them! Potatoes can be harvested once the potato flowers bloom. This usually occurs 7-8 weeks after planting. At the beginning of the potato harvesting season, push aside any mounded earth until you reach the base of the plant. Pick as many of the smaller potatoes as you wish, but leave the rest to grow larger. The potatoes will be fully grown around the time the potato plant begins to wither.
Continue to water these plants for an additional two weeks. This will allow the potatoes to fully mature.
Potatoes are best dug up with a spading fork. Push the fork deeply into the soil (about 1-2 feet away from the plant), and pry up the potatoes. Dig up all remaining potatoes before the first heavy frost of Fall.
Storing potatoes is fairly simple. Wash the dirt of the potatoes and place loosely in a covered and well-ventilated container to dry. Once dry, store the potatoes in a dark, cool place with a temperature around 3-4°C.
Why Do Potatoes Turn Green?
Direct sunlight causes potatoes to develop a toxic substance called solanine. This turns the potato green!
We wish you the best and hope that you have learned all that you need to know about how to grow potatoes. If you already grow great potatoes, please share your growing potatoes tips with us.