How To Plant and Grow Potatoes

Learning how to grow potatoes is a great idea if you want to grow your own food. The generation before the advent of all things processed was raised on potatoes and no wonder.

While they get a bad rap for being “carbs”, potatoes are really healthy. 

A homegrown potato has 21 percent of the daily recommendation for potassium, 45 percent of the daily recommendation for Vitamin C, plus magnesium, phosphorus, and folate. 

The taste of homegrown new potatoes far surpasses baby potatoes from the store. We rarely buy potatoes from the store, thanks to an amazing root cellar.

Our root cellar stores our potatoes for almost a year. It’s pretty great to be able to eat homegrown potatoes all year round. 

The last time we had to buy potatoes from the store has been many years ago. The taste is no good compared to our own. I don’t envy those of you that get your potatoes from the supermarket! 

Now there are three ways to buy/get seed potatoes. Buy seed potatoes for an outrageous price, use grocery store potatoes, or buy potato seeds from a seed catalog. 

Crossbreeding between potato types does occur at times, so sometimes it is better to start with seed potatoes to get back to the original properties that it was bred for. 

We bought Purple Viking seed potatoes, and then also planted red potatoes beside them. Crossbreeding occurred, now we have a mixture of red and purple that grow every year.

I don’t mind. They are similar enough that it doesn’t make a difference in cooking times or in taste. 

What type of Potato Seeds To Buy

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Planting potatoes from seed is possible, but it takes longer. Clancy potato seeds are a type of potato seed that takes 110 days to grow, so that’s slightly too long for our growing season.

It seems like a good experiment if you would choose, but I prefer the simplicity of growing potatoes from potatoes. 

If you have a friend or neighbor that plants her own potatoes, ask if she has extra that you could use as seed potatoes. Potatoes that are wrinkly, and have a lot of sprouts are perfect for seed potatoes. 

seed potatoes

You can also buy seed potatoes from garden centers, but they are usually quite expensive. But, if you have no other option, this works. 

There are many different potato varieties, including Yukon Gold, Norland, Purple and Red Viking, and Russet. Depending on the type of meals you make, Yukon Gold is good for potato fries.

Purple Viking has a whiter flesh and mashes well. It also keeps well and is excellent for boiling. 

Norland are white potatoes with beautiful red skin, are early maturing, and great for boiling and frying. Any of these would be a good choice to plant.

There are more than 200 different varieties of potatoes. Early potatoes include Norland, Viking, Caribe, Rocket, and Lady Christi.

Use Home Grown Potatoes As Seed Potatoes?

While the risk of them carrying disease might be greater, we nearly always use our own homegrown potatoes as seed potatoes.

We have never had trouble with disease. Last year’s potatoes that are still in our dirt cellar are the perfect seed potato for us. 

What kind of soil do potatoes like?

Potatoes grow best in well-drained, sandy-loam soil. They prefer a soil ph of 5.3-6.8 which is slightly acidic soil.

Organic matter in the soil will improve your crop, but avoid fresh manure. Fresh manure can burn your plants, and greatly set back potato production. 

We made this mistake several years ago and are still battling with excessive nitrogen. We accidentally added a lot of fresh manure into our garden. I was under the assumption it was well-aged, but it was not. Be careful when adding manure.

If your soil is more acidic than this, you can add wood ash or lime to raise the pH. If your soil is too alkaline, the best way to make it more acidic is by adding peat moss. 

Improve the Health of Your Soil!

6 small steps to Improve the health of your garden soil.

Healthier soil will provide you with healthier food, as well as more disease and pest resistant plants.

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    How often should potatoes be watered?

    Potatoes grow best when they have a steady supply of 2-3 inches of water per week. They like to be watered deeply, especially if it gets hot and dry. The soil should be moist 8-10 inches underground. 

    How to Plant Potatoes

    Planting time for potatoes is in early spring, as soon as the risk of frost has passed.

    Because you plant them under several inches of soil, you can put them in the ground a week before your last frost date. They are protected under the soil from the frost. However, if the soil temperature is too low, potatoes will grow slowly.

    If possible, leave your seed potatoes in a bright, room temperature area, where their buds can start to sprout a month before you intend to plant.

    This will give them a head start in the garden. Chitting potatoes is not necessary, but it helps to give a speedier harvest in your home garden. 

    On the day of planting, cut your seed potatoes in half, or even into thirds. It’s a good idea to make sure that each piece of potato has at least two eyes on it.

    These are the small buds on the skin of a potato. The tubers will sprout from this bud and are the root system for the plant. 

    Cutting your potatoes into seed pieces will give you a larger potato crop for your money. It is not necessary for a seed potato to have many eyes for it to produce a lot of potatoes. 

    Work your garden soil as usual. Make rows with a row maker or twine and a board. Make your rows approximately 30-36 inches apart if you are planting in rows.

    How deep to plant potatoes?

    Make a shallow trench or dig holes 5-6 inches deep. Plant them in the garden bed about 10-12 inches apart, cut side facing down.

    Cover them with dirt, and pat them down firmly. We usually step on them with our feet to pack them down well. 

    If you allowed your potatoes to grow sprouts before planting them, you should see new potato plants within 1-2 weeks. It’s always such fun to discover new plants poking their green leaves out of the ground.

    As the potatoes grow, they need to be “hilled”. Once the potato plants are about 8” tall, heap dirt around each plant.

    Hilling potatoes helps with weed control, improved drainage, and may even increase the quality and quantity of your harvest.

    If you do not mound your potato plants, you are more likely to end up with green potatoes. This happens because the potatoes have been exposed to sunlight. 

    potato plants in a row

    How to plant potatoes from the eyes?

    The eyes on potatoes, where they start to sprout, are what make a potato grow. You can actually plant potatoes by planting just the sprout, with no potato attached.

    This is something I only recently learned, and am keen to try it. I’ll keep you updated.

    How long do potatoes take to grow 

    The time it takes potatoes to grow depends on the type you plant. Full-sized potatoes grown from seed are usually ready in about 120 days.

    Planting potatoes from potatoes usually speeds up the process, especially if you allow them to sprout a couple of weeks before putting them into the ground. 

    Baby potatoes can be harvested after about 60 days. Fresh baby potatoes out of the garden are a delicious treat. 

    Even with our short growing season, we have no problem growing a bounty of beautiful potatoes. We plant potatoes as seeds at the end of May when the soil is still a bit cool.

    Usually, we harvest them the first week of September, although it depends on the weather. We do leave them in as long as possible, but by September we usually get a killing frost, so they are not able to grow any longer. 

    From the middle of May, until September is about 100 days, which is sufficient time to grow potatoes when you use seed potatoes.

    potatoes in the garden

    Secrets to growing potatoes

    How to increase potato yield

    What is the best fertilizer for potatoes? I always prefer an organic, all-natural fertilizer. When planting, an NPK of 15-15-15 is ideal.

    Potatoes need a lot of nitrogen a month or two after they’ve been planted. Organic fertilizer with an NPK of 34-0-0 will increase potato growth.

    The last couple of weeks before harvest, potatoes require more potassium, so use a fertilizer with an NPK of 12-12-17 or 14-7-21. Banana peel fertilizer is a great potassium-rich all-natural fertilizer.

    Do potatoes need full sun?

    Potatoes do best in full sun. While you would be able to grow baby potatoes in partial shade, they would not do as well as in the full sun.

    Potatoes need at least 8 hours of sunlight a day. Too much heat is not ideal, as scorching of the leaves can happen, but too little light will delay your harvest. 

    Less sun exposure on the leaves decreases the rate of photosynthesis, which means the plants create fewer nutrients which can result in fewer edible potatoes.

    Growing potatoes from potatoes are one of the easiest things to grow. If you are a beginner gardener, planting a potato patch will provide you with nutritious food right out of your own backyard. 

    Harvest time will bring you many pounds of potatoes for very little time and money. You only need some small seed potatoes, and a garden plot with healthy soil to be able to plant and harvest potatoes

    Planting potatoes from potatoes is a simple process that can be done by anyone.

    It is a great way to start a garden or to add to an existing garden. By following these simple steps, you can enjoy fresh potatoes from your own garden area.

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