Potatoes are relatively easy to grow, and taste great when grown in your garden. While potatoes are a root crop, they still require full sun to produce the best potatoes. Potatoes will grow best in a slightly acidic soil that ranges between 5.9 and 6.5. Since potatoes grow underground a soft loamy soil will produce the best results. Potatoes can be planted in the early spring once the soil can be worked and reaches a temperature of about 45 degrees. Make sure that the soil is not too wet when you plants your seeds, or you face the risk that your seeds will rot before they sprout.
While you might be tempted to try to used potatoes you bought in the supermarket as seeds, do not use them. First you don’t know if they are disease free, and second they may not give the best yields. About one week before you are ready to plant your potato seeds place them in an area that is at least 60F and receives plenty of light. This will help get the seeds started sprouting. The day before you are ready to plant use a knife to cud the large potato seed into smaller seeds. Make sure that each seed contains at least one eye.
Potatoes will grow best if they are planted in rows. They should be spaced about one foot apart between plants, and the rows should be about 3 feet apart. The seeds should be placed under about three inches of soil. In approximately two weeks the seeds will sprout, and you should cove them with about four inches of soil. After another two weeks the stems will be about eight inches high, at this time you should add another four inches of soil. After this you will need to add one to two inches of soil per week. You must make sure that the potatoes are covered and aren’t exposed to light. If the potatoes do get exposed to light they turn green, and this green part has the potential to be toxic.
Alternatively rows you could use large mounds that are about three feet in diameter and this will allow for about 8 plants. The same method of covering the growing potatoes with soil should be followed with this technique as well. Be sure not to use to much organic material in the soil where you are growing your potatoes as this will increase the likelihood of potato scab. Therefore it is best to put any organic materials deep into the soil so the roots of the potato can grow into the rich nutrients.
Potatoes should be watered frequently especially when they are flowering. When the plants begin to create new tubers that is when watering is very important. It is best to water potatoes early in the morning so they are not wet overnight, and thus less susceptible to potato diseases. Potatoes are ready to harvest about two to three weeks after they are done flowering. You can harvest some potatoes now and leave others to keep growing and getting larger. If you want to store your potatoes they should be kept in a dark, well ventilated location at about 40F. They can be stored for up to six months. It is important to rotate your potato crop from year to year as many diseases and insects will overwinter, and cause trouble the following season if you don’t move your crop.