In the world of gardening, potatoes are an enigma to many, even those who consider themselves to have a green thumb. While potatoes may not be as easy to grow as spinach or squash, they’re surprisingly easy to cultivate under the right conditions. The trick is finding those “right conditions,” as potatoes need an area with lots of sun and plenty of loose, growth-friendly soil.
The actual growth process is unique as well. Growing potatoes isn’t as simple as tossing a couple of seeds in the dirt and waiting for those spuds to sprout. In fact, potatoes don’t contain “seeds” in the traditional sense, as the spuds themselves are responsible for spawning new crops. Growing potatoes requires “seed potatoes,” which are derived from whole potatoes. Sound tricky? It’s easy with the right tools. Read on to discover how to turn seed potatoes into a rich, bountiful crop.
Choosing the Right Seed Potatoes
Some people pull their own seed potatoes from an existing or previous crop. Unless you’re an expert in potato growth, this approach is not recommended. Poorly selected seed potatoes can carry disease and ruin an entire crop. The best approach is to purchase certified seed potatoes from a specialty supplier, as these are carefully selected and vetted for their health and quality.
Before you take to the garden, even the most highly regarded commercial seed potatoes need to be examined for signs of cracks or rot. Throw out any seeds with these symptoms, and use the rest for the crop.
Preparing Seed Potatoes
Cut the seed potatoes into pieces, bearing in mind that each piece will need at least one eye to produce new crops. How you cut them will depend on what type of potatoes you’re hoping to grow.
With more eyes per piece, you’ll have smaller potatoes but a greater yield of potatoes overall. With fewer eyes per piece, you’ll have much larger potatoes but a lower number of potatoes overall.
One pound of seed potatoes will result in about 10 pounds of potatoes, so plan your crop accordingly. Each pound of potatoes will need about a 10-foot-long trench in the garden, so make sure you have ample room before you begin.
Finally, make sure to cut the seed potatoes about two days before planting them.
Planting Seed Potatoes
Dig shallow trenches about two feet apart in your garden. Insert the seed potatoes about a foot apart from one another along the trench, and then cover each trench with about three inches of soil.
The amount of water needed will depend on the dryness of the environment. The key is ensuring that the soil has moisture at all times. Water is needed to keep the soil hydrated, but try not to provide the soil with more than two inches of water per week unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Within about two weeks, you should start to notice green shoots peeking above the soil. When they reach about a foot in height, cover them with additional soil until the stems are buried.
Keep doing this throughout the growing season, ensuring that the tubers are always covered. The potatoes should bloom in about 10 weeks, and then it’s safe to pick them and add them to your favorite recipes.
Now that your produce is set, see how to make the best potato hashbrowns.