I was recently asked about growing potatoes. Potatoes seemed to be the easiest of all the vegetables I’ve grown.
After preparing their bed, I dug trowel deep holes about 12 inches apart and put a piece of potato in each hole. Each piece of potato should have one eye, preferably an eye that has already began to sprout. Plant the potato pieces eye or sprout up.
I plant my potatoes in full sun. Full sun means 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, although my potato bed gets fuller than full sun. Within a few days the potatoes should begin to emerge if you plant sprouted eyes in a sunny spot. If not, it may be a week or so before you notice them above the ground.
It’s suggested that during their growing you mound dirt at the base of each plant about a month after planting or when the plant is 6-10 inches tall. This gives the growing potatoes some extra shade from the sun and loose soil where they can form. You may want to repeat the mounding one month after the initial mounding. If you find that the foliage is too much to work around, don’t cut it or prune it. Tie the leaves with some garden twine or garden tape. This should make it easier to access the bottom of the plant for mounding and watering.
When your potato plants start to grow good and bushy foliage and flowers begin to bud and bloom, pinch off the flowers. Getting rid of the flowers tells the plant to put more energy into the potatoes and not flowering and seeding.
HARVESTING & STORAGE
Depending on your variety of potato, it could be 65 to 90 or more days until maturity. Be careful when unearthing your potatoes. Potato harvesting is best done by hands and not garden tools. If you’re not careful you may end up stabbing and slicing your potatoes with your trowel, garden fork, or whatever tool you use.
Any potatoes that you accidentally damage should be eaten first. Don’t wash the potatoes. Something about the dirt helps preserve them longer. Store them in a cool place. Depending on the variety of potato, you can store them up to 9 months.