Garden Guide: Growing Potatoes - The Daily Homesteader

Garden Guide: Growing Potatoes

One Potato. Two Potato.

Planting potatoes can be like Christmas in the garden! You never know what you are going to get until you “open the package” or the ground and dig them up. I absolutely love the magic of what could be when growing spuds! And…it is another “set it and forget it” plant. Sort of.

Potatoes can be grown in bag, buckets, raised beds, in the ground…pretty much any place that holds dirt! They are super easy if you do a little work up front. And once they are settled and growing you will feel the magic too of what may be.

Potatoes varieties can be broken up into three groups, early-season, mid-season and late-season. For the longest harvest of fresh potatoes, choose one (or some) from each group. This way you will have fresh potatoes most of the season!

Because the method of planting, and placement can vary so much, I am going to just give guidelines here.

1. Variety! Always the number one thing. There are over 100 varieties of potatoes. Depending on the length of your growing season, you can plant different varieties to extend your harvest all season long! If you are ordering seed potatoes, you need to do it when they first are available to get the best selections. 

Can you buy them at the grocery store. Yep! I have done it several times. But you HAVE to get organic and you will not usually know the variety. However, you can do it and they will grow the same!

2. Preparing the Potatoes! You do not have to sprout your potatoes, but it is a good idea. It makes it easier to see how to plant them, makes it easier for the plants to get above ground, and it shows you if a potato is viable or not. If your potato is smaller than a chicken egg, don’t cut it. Just wait for it to sprout and toss it in the hole. If your potato is bigger than a chicken egg, cut it in half making sure to have two or three eyes on each section. Let the cut up potatoes sit in a dry area to scab over before planting. To sprout potatoes put them in a dark place, or light place not in direct sunlight, and wait. We have all accidently sprouted potatoes at some point by forgetting we have them. They will grow “eyes”, which are just the plants starting to grow.

3. Planting potatoes happens in the early spring. Once the ground is around 50 degrees get those puppies in the ground! When you plant, regardless of method, plant your potatoes with the eyes pointing up! If you are planting in trenches in the ground you will want to plant your potatoes 4-6 inches deep. If you are in raised beds shoot for 6-8 inches. If you are doing them in bags or buckets, you will plant at the bottom on about 6 inches of soil. Make sure to watch the videos below about bags and buckets. They are super easy, but different!

4. Fertilizer! Add a slow release, organic fertilizer at planting for all methods. Once the plant are up, use an organic water soluble (fish fertilizer works well) fertilizer about every two weeks. 

5. Full Sun! Potatoes really do want full sun. A little shade won’t be horrible, but potato leaves are susceptible to blight. If you have too much shade, leaves don’t get dried enough from overnight dews and can fall victim early and you will lose your bountiful harvest. Go for full sun as much as possible.

6. Water! Water is important once the plants come up. Make sure you get a full inch a week for your potatoes. Rain + hose will work just fine.

7. Hilling! So…this depends on the method. The idea behind hilling is that you absolutely MUST keep the sun off the actual potatoes. So, if you are planting in ground in trenches, you will likely need to hill up the sides as the plants grow. If you are planting in raised beds, and start about 6″ down, you may not have to hill…but watch for potatoes to peek out of the ground. If you are planting in bags or buckets…no hilling for you!

8. Waiting Time! While you wait for the potato harvest, watch for blight, potato bugs and any other problems that can arise. Catch the issue early so you don’t have to harvest early!

The Daily Homesteader

Quick Tips

  • Sprout Potatoes Before Planting.
  • Plant In Early Spring.
  • Full Sun.
  • Method Matters. Decide How You Will Plant.
  • Fertilize At Planting & Every Two Weeks.
  • Water 1″ Per Week…Every Week.
  • No Sun Ever Touches Potatoes.
  • Watch For Pests & Blight and Fix Early!

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