Potatoes are one of the best sources of starch. There are many tasty dishes you can prepare with them. What if these potatoes are coming right from your garden? They will be fresh and tasty and you will be sure of what you are getting. The concern that must be in your mind is how to plant potatoes. It is actually very easy. Here are the steps to follow.
1. Prepare the land
Potatoes will do well in areas that have fertile and well-drained soils. A soil that is acidic is more preferred but is not necessary. The land should be prepared before the planting season reaches. To do this, dig the soil deeply and remove all weeds and incorporate lots of organic manure in the soil. The best time to plant potatoes is in early spring. However consider what the soil temperatures since potatoes will only grow when the temperatures reach 45 degrees F.
2. Buy the potato seeds and prepare them
Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes which are potato tubers containing sprouting buds known as eyes. It is best to choose certified seeds as others may harbor diseases that can ruin the entire crop. As for the variety to choose, consult and find out which will do best in your geographical region. Bring the seed potatoes home a week before the planned planting time. Place them in a warm place with temperatures of about 65 degrees F. The sprouts will keep growing till they are 0.25 to 0.5 inches long. They are then ready to be planted. If there are any large seed potatoes cut them into small chunks 2 inches wide. Ensure that every piece has two or more buds. Let the cut pieces sit at room temperature for two or three days.
3. Plant the potatoes
Dig trenches that are about 5 inches deep and 3 feet apart. Plant the seed potatoes 12 inches apart with the sprouts facing upwards. Fill the trenches with soil to cover the potatoes. You can apply potato fertilizer and/or a layer of sulfur to protect the potatoes from diseases. Water the potatoes adequately but do not flood the area.
4. Care as they grow
When the first shoots appear cover them with soil so as to protect them from frost. When the stems reach about 9 inches above the ground after around five weeks, hill the potatoes. This is done by pilling soil around the base of the stems. Have a few of the upper leaves exposed and be sure to hill frequently. Water the potatoes frequently so they have 1-2 inches of water every week. Discontinue watering when the leaves start turning yellow or dying back so the potatoes can start curing.
The earliest you can start to harvest the potatoes is when the plants first start flowering which is about 10 weeks after planting. These however are only useful in eating. For bigger potatoes ideal for storing leave them unharvested for over two weeks after the leaves wither. This will allow the potato’s skin to form properly. To harvest, dig up the potatoes using a pitch fork trying to avoid injuring the potatoes. For potatoes that will be stored, leave them in a dry place to cure for two weeks and then place them in potato sacks. Store in a cool place.