Planting potatoes is not difficult. In fact, with just a little bit of time, you can get a lot of potatoes in the ground pretty quickly. Here’s a step-by-step guide to planting potatoes in your own garden.
Step #1. Start with good seed potatoes. We usually purchase several pounds of seed potatoes from our local feed store. Potatoes from the grocery store will not work for planting in your home garden. They typically have been treated with a chemical that prevents them from producing viable “eyes” for planting. If you start with good quality, untreated seed potatoes then that’s just setting your garden up for success.
Step #2. Find the eyes on each potato. Each “eye” will produce a root that produces more potatoes. So, the eyes are a good thing. Cut the potato into chunks saving the portions with the eyes. Basically, you should have chunks of potatoes with eyes on them.
Step #3. Once all the potatoes have been cut apart into chunks with “eyes”, you’ll need to prepare the planting area. Potatoes grow best for me in an area that’s contained – buckets, boxes, troughs, etc. The key to potatoe planting is that the plants grow up and the roots grow down, just like with other plants. However, when the tops are showing through, you cover them with more dirt, thus creating more roots. It’s a beautiful system, so you need a container that’s pretty tall or can be added to to create more height. I’ve used everything from cardboard boxes to a trough.
Layer the bottom of the container with good, well-draining soil and make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom or your potatoes may rot. You probably need at least 4-5″ of soil.
Step #4. Lay the potato pieces on top of the soil about 5-6″ apart. 17
Step #5. Cover the seed potatoes with about 1″ of soil. Water.
Step #6. Make sure that the potatoes are watered regularly, but not too much that they drown. As the potato vines/stems start showing, wait until you have a good thick layer and then layer more dirt on top. Continue to do this until you have no more room to add soil. This can take several months.
Also, if you see that the potatoes are exposed to the sunlight, cover them with soil as the skins will turn green. That’s not a good thing.
And, when it gets close to the time to harvest, the stems will turn yellow and kind of speckly. Really reduce the amount of water you are giving at this point to allow the potato skins to toughen up a bit.
Step #7. When the stems are brown and dry, the potatoes are ready to be harvested.
Step #8. Another reason I like to grow potatoes in containers is that it’s easy to harvest them. Simply turn your container over, gently spilling the contents (ahem…potatoes and dirt). Gently sift through the dirt and pick out all the potatoes.
Step #9. Before you can bring the potatoes inside for storage, they need to cure for about 10 days in a high humid area. This helps to toughen up the skins and allows them to store better.
Once you bring them in for storage, keep them in a cool spot. If you notice over time that some of them start to get eyes, separate them out and save them as your “seed” potatoes for next spring.
Email me if you have any questons! Planting potatoes really is easy. You’ll see!