How to Grow Potatoes

So you want to be a potato planter? Awesome! Potatoes are delicious, addictive and can be used as a side for just about anything no matter what your tastes are.

But enough about how delicious potatoes are. What do you really need in order to get started planting your own potatoes in your backyard or garden?

Are You Planting Potatoes in a Garden or Containers?

Ask yourself this question first. There’s an advantage to being a potato planter in either situation. With garden potatoes, you can do a bit more volume and utilize more of your own land in order to grow them potatoes. This is a bit more budget friendly.

With container grown potatoes, you get a more controlled growing area. There is less of a chance of contamination from other crops, pesticides or curious pets digging in the garden. However, it does take a little bit more equipment. You’ll need to fill your containers up with compost and potato fertilizer as well as create a drain reservoir for excess moisture at the bottom so as not to harm the roots of the potato.

Let’s Get Started!

Here are some of the things you’ll need to begin your journey as a potato planter:

  1. Certified, disease free potato seeds. Buy from a quality seed dealer to insure you are not getting a contaminated or weak strand of potatoes that won’t survive.
  2. Compost rich soil with just a bit of acid. This helps keep disease away and makes sure the potato has proper nutrients
  3. Proper watering conditions. Too much or too little moisture can devastate a potato harvest. Water 2-3 times weekly unless there’s a lot of rain.
  4. Your potatoes need to be in the full sunlight 3 inches to 5 inches below ground and around 6 to 10 inches apart in rows that are 3 feet apart. This will help insure that the rows are not getting their roots tangled or encroaching into each others water or sunlight.

With potato seeds, you can cut them into sets or plant them whole depending on your configuration. The sets need to air out before planting so make sure you give them some time to do this before germination. If you cut the seeds, make sure you plant them cut side down to insure proper growth.

While your potatoes are growing, pile leaves, soil and compost on top to encourage the tubers to push outwards towards the sunlight. Leave a little bit of the tubers exposed to the light to insure that the tubers are encouraged to grow to full size while still piling a little bit on top. This helps encourage the potato plant to reach a more mature size once it’s fully visible by sunlight.

When to Plant Your Potatoes

Potato planters should be mindful of harvest times! The best time for a plant to begin is usually around springtime. If you plant in the spring, there is just the right amount of moisture leading up to the harvest and an appropriate amount of sunlight as well.

Summer harvests are great too assuming it is not terribly dry. If the summer climate is dry and harsh, try to water the potatoes 4 to 5 times weekly to make sure they don’t die.

If you’re smart, you should be able to get up to three potato harvests throughout the year; one early spring, another in spring/summer months, and finally another in the fall. Typically, growing in the winter is out of the question unless you live in a very warm climate.

When to Harvest

Once your tubers start forming fully grown potatoes on top of the soil, compost and leaves you’ve been laying on top of your seeds, you are ready for the harvest. This is typically around one month after you initially laid the seeds.

When you see potatoes are thick and full and the potato plant itself is starting to die down, this is the time to harvest! Drooping leaves and weak roots are a sure sign that the potato plant is towards the end of its lifespan and the potato is ready for eating. A ripe, healthy potato should have soft, easily peeled skin and a plump, solid constitution. These will make a delicious soup, side or even a main course once fully prepared!

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