How to grow and store potatoes

How to grow and store potatoes

Gardening is a great activity for everyone. Although not everyone is born with a green thumb, which a little knowledge, anyone can become a gardener. Once you know the basics, it’s time to start working on growing something. Every type of plant has different requirements. Some need constant attention, while others do well with little to no help. Knowing exactly what each plant requires will make growing them a success. Potatoes are on the lower end of the maintenance spectrum. Today I will be sharing how to grow and store potatoes.

How to grow and store potatoes

How to plant potatoes

The first step is deciding which variety of potato to grow. With over 100 varieties of potatoes, this is no easy task. It is important to know that not all varieties do well in all climates. Knowing this will narrow down your choices and increase the chance of a successful growing season. Russet and Golden potatoes are two of the more readily available varieties. You will be able to find them at nurseries in the spring.

Once you know the type of potato you plan to grow, it’s time to get the soil ready. It is best to grow potatoes in loose soil. Hard, clumpy soil will not produce well. With some elbow grease and soil amendments, such as peat moss, you can create an ideal soil composition for potatoes. Ensure that any roots or rocks are removed as these will impede potatoes growth.

Depending on the size of your seed potatoes, you may need to cut them into pieces. Use a knife to cut them in several pieces, ensuring that each piece has at least two eyes. If your seed potatoes are on the smaller side, they can be planted whole.

To plant potatoes, dig down about 8 inches. Place the seed potato with the eyes pointing up. Be sure to leave about 12 inches in between potatoes. Rows should be approximately 2-3 feet apart. If you are limited on space or have a short growing season, then place the potatoes a bit closer to maximize space and time. Cover the potatoes with 3-4 inches worth of soil and gently pat the soil down. Once all of the potatoes are planted, give them a good watering.

Remember, despite being a root crop, potatoes grow up, so you want to start them deep to allow them room to grow.

Should your seed potatoes already have some growth on them, you have two options. The growth can be left, burying it with the potato. This works whether the growth is long or short. Alternatively, the growth can be broken off and the potato can be planted without it. I have done both ways and there was no difference in potato production.

Caring for potato plants

As mentioned above, potatoes are fairly low maintenance. Once the plant has sprouted and has a decent amount of growth on it, carefully place about 3-4 inches of soil around it. Be sure to leave a few inches of the plant above the soil. This process is known as hilling and can be done a couple of times over the growing season. Hilling encouraging the plants to produce and also prevents the potatoes from being exposed to the sun, which will turn them green. Should your growing season be shorter, hilling may not be the best option. Personally, I do not hill my potatoes because of a short growing season. Instead, I fully cover them with soil upon planting.

Regular watering is vital for potatoes. Watering them once a week is ideal. However, if you live in a drier climate, you may need to water them twice weekly.

Be sure to regularly weed your potatoes. Weeds nearby will steal nutrients from your potatoes.

Mulch can be added in between the rows to help retain moisture when watering.

Keep an eye out for diseases and pest. The potato beetle can easily wipe out a crop if not dealt with quickly.

Growing potatoes

How to harvest potatoes

Potatoes should be harvested once the plants have died off.

It is best to harvest your potatoes when the soil is slightly damp. Dry soil can be abrasive and this can damage the skins of the potatoes, causing them to rot prematurely. Remove any remains of the plant and gently dig down to find the potatoes. While a tool like a garden fork can be used, it can cause damage to the potatoes. To be on the safe side, dig up the potatoes by hand. Go through the soil twice, as this ensures that you don’t miss any potatoes.

Keep an eye out for the seed potato. If you planted the seed potato whole then it will be in among the potatoes. The seed potato will be much darker than those you are harvesting. It will also be partially rotten so take care when handling it.

Seed potato versus fresh potato.

Should you find any potatoes that are split, they can be set aside. These potatoes will not store well but they can be eaten within a few days of harvesting. Just be sure to cut around the split.

Green potatoes are not edible. Should there only be a small green spot on the potato, then treat is similar to a split potato, consuming it quickly.

How to store potatoes

Properly storing potatoes will increase their longevity.

Once your potatoes are harvested, place them in a cool, dry area for two weeks. This allows their skins to cure, which in turn means they will store longer. Once they are cured, brush any remaining soil from them. It is best to avoid washing potatoes before storing them. The excess moisture can lead them to rot prematurely.

With the potatoes fully cured, place them in a dark, cool but slightly humid area. Potatoes must be kept out of the light or they will turn green and become inedible. Check on the potatoes regularly to ensure that none are rotting or sprouting. Those that are starting to sprout should be eaten first.

Now that you have gained this knowledge, you know how to grow and store potatoes. I hope you are able to add them to your garden.

 

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thanks for this! I have a sprout from a sweet potato that I stuck in a jar of water and it’s going crazy. I’m planning on planting it in a pot and keeping it in the house through the winter. Now if I can just keep my cat away from it!

    1. Avatar
      Author

      Nice. I have yet to try to grow sweet potatoes, as it’s not really warm enough here to grow them properly. Good luck keeping the cat away from it. I hope that you can plant it next year and grow some sweet potatoes.

  2. Avatar

    Potatoes in any form are one of my favorite things to eat. Nice to know they don’t require much attention! Perhaps next spring I’ll be able to cure myself of my black thumb and give potatoes a try in my garden.

    1. Avatar
      Author

      They really are a simple crop to grow. Good luck turning that black thumb into a green thumb.

  3. Avatar

    Storing potatoes has always been hard for me. If I don’t meal plan, I may forget about them! These are some great tips!

    1. Avatar
      Author

      I’ve done that before. My only suggestion is to put them in a spot where you see them regularly so that you don’t forget about them if they aren’t in your meal plan.

  4. Avatar

    Every year I say that I am going to try my hand at potatoes, and after reading this – I can’t wait to do it next Spring! We eat them nearly every day and there’s no reason we shouldn’t grow them ourselves!

    1. Avatar
      Author

      Definitely give them a try in the spring. They are so easy to grow, and nothing beats the flavor of homegrown potatoes.

  5. Avatar

    Splendid post! Just loved it. I too tried growing potatoes, they came out well.
    I fried some and they were completely divine, very delicious. Organic home grown potatoes are really worth growing.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Avatar
      Author

      I agree, there isn’t much better than fresh potatoes out of the garden. We roasted some when I did the harvest and they were wonderful.

  6. Avatar

    I always loved growing potatoes in my garden, I especially loved trying out all the different types I could find – have to say my favorites were some purple ones haha.

    We always had mixed success with them though, I wish I had these tips back then but maybe I will give them a try again in the future!

    1. Avatar
      Author

      We grew purple skinned potatoes a couple years ago, we couldn’t find the fully purple potatoes and really enjoyed them though they didn’t seem to produce as well as the golden or russet potatoes. It might be worthwhile giving them another try, especially if you can get the purple variety.

    1. Avatar
      Author

      Good luck with your future garden!

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