Have you ever attempted to grow potatoes in the garden? Potatoes are a lot of fun to grow and aren’t too challenging. They tend to produce abundant harvests, are available in a wide variety of intriguing varieties, and are far tastier than the store-bought potatoes.
This guide will walk you through all of the secrets to growing potatoes. Consider it a checklist to ensure that your requirements are ideal before planting.
Secrets to Growing Potatoes
Potatoes can be stored well over the cold season and are a healthy addition to any meal. Nothing beats the taste of newly dug potatoes, especially when you understand they have been grown without pesticides in your backyard garden.
Plant Certified potato seeds
Once you grow seed potatoes, note that you are sowing a potato generated the past year from the plant. The seed potato inherits any insects or diseases the mother plant might have had. When you plant quality seed potatoes, you can be sure you’re beginning with disease-free potatoes.
Before planting, chit the seed
Chit the seed before actually planting to have a good start on the foundation of the potato plants. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “chitting,” it simply refers to the process of encouraging seed potato development before planting.
Potatoes are developed from the potatoes that you gathered the year before. The eyes of the seed potatoes generate new growth that will eventually turn into a plant. You’ve probably realized it on potatoes that have been stored for an extended period.
Once you plant the seed potato and then expose it to much more moisture before it develops roots, it will rot before planting; chitting the seed potato will guarantee successful growth and not rot.
Roughly six weeks before you plant, begin chitting the seed potatoes. Please place them in egg cartons or containers in a warm, sunny location to do so. Allowing them to develop shoots indoors before planting them out will encourage them to do so sooner.
You can securely plant your shoots outside once they reach a height of a few centimeters.
Planting Seed Potatoes: How To Prepare Them
You reduce your seed potatoes into bits to prepare them for planting. Every piece should be adorned with sprouted eyes. One can also plant entire potatoes, but here’s a rule of thumb:
- The more the eyes for every piece equals more potatoes, but they will be smaller.
- With one or two eyes for every piece, you get fewer potatoes, but bigger.
As a result, you must choose whether you prefer smaller or larger potatoes. If you decide to cut them, keep them in a jar for at least two days. After you plant the potatoes underground, the new cut will “recover” and coat itself, preventing disease and rot.
How to grow potatoes and when to plant them
In a six-inch-trench or deep hole, plant the seed potato sections cut-side down with its eyes up. On all edges, space every portion 12 inches apart. Drizzle two tbsp of a high-phosphorous, low-nitrogen fertilizer between each section. Then, using two inches of soil, protect the fertilizer and potatoes and properly water the soil.
When is the best time to plant potatoes?
Depending on the location, it will be different. Gardeners in hot climates, while planting occurs early spring or around Easter in colder climates. Seek 3-4 weeks before your last frost deadline as a general rule of thumb.
Make use of hilled rows.
The vines must be “hilled” because fresh potatoes shape on lateral stalks, or “stolons,” above your seed potato. Once the green sprouts reach 8 inches long, cover them with soil, sliced straw, or chopped up leaves, except for the top four inches.
Then when the crops have grown an extra 8 inches, hill them again. The more hills you plant, the more fruitful your harvest will be. You can now stop after the vines bloom. That’s what potatoes look like when they are ready to harvest.
Secrets to Growing Potatoes: Avoid soil compaction
You cultivate potatoes for their buried tubers. It’s no surprise, then, that those tubers require particular conditions to achieve their potential size. For ideal potato growth, make sure the soil is not compacted.
The term “compacted soil” refers to sand grains that are tightly packed together. Because there isn’t enough room for potato tubers to grow due to the compacted soil, they can’t grow large. Your potatoes will then remain small if the soil is compacted.
Water penetration into the surface is also hampered by compacted soil. The water propagates horizontally across the surface, creating the plants unreachable. Even if you frequently water, the crop roots will not grow deep and become sensitive to drought.
Use an adequate amount of fertilizer.
Potatoes are nutrient-dense plants that require plenty of fertilizer. Because they are root plants, they will benefit from higher phosphorus and potassium levels. As a result, pick a fertilizer with a ratio of 5-10-10.
Allow the potatoes to reach maturity before storing them.
After the crops bloom, you can start gathering fresh potatoes as required for meals. Let the tubers mature in the ground if you’re growing them for storage. Heal unclean potatoes before stashing to allow the peels to heal and thicken. It would help to store cured tubers in covered bins and boxes with air vents in a dark environment. Store the potatoes at 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit and 80-90 percent relative humidity.
Get rid of weeds
One of the best secrets to growing potatoes is to get rid of the weeds.
Keep the potato plants’ beds weeded to limit competition, particularly when the crops are small. Weeds compete for nutrition and space with potatoes as they grow.
Manually pulling weeds, mulching extensively, or both are effective ways to reduce weed pressure. Keep a close eye out for taproots weed and focus your efforts around the plant base. Once the potatoes reach maturity, they tend to form a huge canopy to keep weed growth at bay. Go down and pull the weeds till then!
Secrets to Growing Potatoes: Take away
Potatoes are incredibly simple to grow after you grasp the basic concept. They’re also a lot more fun to grow as there are multiple different planting techniques to try. You’ll get a delicious, natural, nutrient-dense source of food to feed the family as a reward. It’s also satisfying to have pride in knowing that you soared them yourself.
Related: Potato Flowers: How to Use Them