Gardening 101: Planting PotatoesBy
One of my very favorite foods to plant is potatoes. You put a hunk of potato into the ground….then, it grows into a plant…which produces several brand new potatoes. When it’s time to dig up potatoes in the fall…it’s like Christmas time! I LOVE it!!
Here are some Potato Planting Basics:
- Purchase seed potatoes (I got mine at a grocery store). Find seed potatoes with lots of “eyes” if you can.
- Keep in mind that the “russet” or “kennebec” potato will store the best…so if you’re planting enough potatoes to store for a few months, you’ll want this kind. Red and Yukon Gold don’t store quite as well (oh but they sure are yummy!).
- Cut your seed potatoes into hunks. Each hunk needs to have at least one good “eye” (see the one in the picture below?). That’s what your new potato plant will grow from.
Be sure not to cut your potato hunks too small. They need to have enough potato on them to provide nourishment for the plant as it starts to grow.
It’s a good idea to cut your potatoes a few days before they are planted so that they can “cure”. This helps to prevent rotting under the ground once they are planted. However, most years I don’t know that I’ll be planting until the day I plant! Cutting the potatoes right before you plant them won’t hurt anything!
Place your potato hunks in the ground with the “eye” facing upward. They need to be about one foot apart. To make this easier for my kids, I usually break a stick into a piece one foot long. They lay down a potato…then lay down the stick…then lay down another potato at the end of the stick. It’s a great way for them to measure the distance and avoid putting the potatoes too close together.
Your rows should be about two feet apart. Cover your seed potatoes with about 3-4 inches of soil.
Once you’ve got your potatoes planted, give them a nice drink of water. Then, leave them alone for a few days. It isn’t neccessary to give them much water for the first several weeks. After a week or so, you’ll see some nice sturdy plants coming up out of the ground (at which point, you’ll do a happy little potato dance!).
- Once the plants are about eight inches tall, pull the soil up around each of them and kind of pack it in around the base of the plant.
- When your potato plant begins to flower, you’ll know that there are now some new potatoes growing under the ground (and you’ll do another happy little potato dance!). At this point, your potato plants need plenty of water. Big fat potatoes can grow bigger and fatter with lots of water.
- All summer long, be sure that the soil is pulled up high around the base of your plant. You don’t want any growing potatoes to start popping up out of the soil. They’ll turn green….and you don’t want green potatoes.
- You can begin to “steal” little new potatoes from your plants anytime after they flower. But, if you leave them there and continue to water them well, they’ll grow into baked potatoes and french fries and bowls of mashed potatoes. Really, it’s true.
And may I just say….you haven’t eaten a potato until you’ve eaten a fresh potato right out of the ground!!!
I will also be planting some “containers” of potatoes this year since I don’t have enough garden space to plant enough potatoes to last us the entire winter. Soon, I’ll share that technique with you….and maybe all of you who don’t have big garden spaces will want to play along with me. Start looking out for big garbage containers!!
A couple more things…I live in the midwest and I haven’t actually planted my potatoes yet. (I took the above pictures last year when we were planting.) You’re safe to plant potatoes a few weeks before the last freeze…so for me that means I can plant them pretty soon. We just haven’t had a chance to get our garden ready for planting yet, what with all the SNOW THAT HAS FORGOTTEN TO REMEMBER THAT SPRING IS HERE.
I hate to garden but I do it just so I don't starve if the need arises LOL me bad I know.