Contrary to popular belief, learning how to grow potatoes isn’t difficult. In fact, potatoes are one of the easiest and most convenient vegetables to grow. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener to do so, nor do you need oodles of space.
If you haven’t had much luck with gardening in the past, or don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the process, learning how to grow potatoes is the perfect way to start your new hobby.
Here’s how to grow potatoes in your garden, no matter its size or location:
Step 1: Purchase Seed Potatoes
Buy seed potatoes from your local garden center. These are potatoes that have already started to sprout. (The sprouts are called eyes. You’ll notice these on potatoes you’ve stored in your kitchen for long periods of time.)
Don’t plant store-bought potatoes. You won’t know what chemicals have been sprayed on them, which can put your entire crop at risk for disease.
Step 2: Prepare Your Seed Potatoes
Next, you have to chit your seeds: this means storing them in a cool, dry, and light location for two weeks before planting them. This allows your seed potatoes to start sprouting early, which will help you produce the best crop possible.
How to Chit:
- Find the side of the potato that has the most eyes. Place them side by side on trays with the eyes facing upward.
- Store them. Each eye will produce a shoot.
- Check on the shoots, making sure to take away any that look unhealthy.
- Plant the shoots once they’ve reached 1.5 – 2.5cm in length.
Step 3: Prepare Your Soil
Choose a sunny spot where the soil is loose and well-drained so the roots can fully develop. If the soil is dry, water it a few days before you plant your potato seeds—you want the soil to be moist, but not soaking wet.
Wait until the soil is warm before planting. If you plant your seed potatoes in damp ground and they remain damp for too long, they could rot before they have a chance to grow.
Step 4: Plant Your Seed Potatoes
There are three common ways to grow your own potatoes:
Dig a trench about 4 inches deep, placing your potato seeds 18 inches apart. Mound soil around the shoots.
Prepare the soil as you would using the trenching method, only instead of mounding the soil, place the potato seeds on the surface and lightly cover them with mulch.
This method isn’t recommended if you have problems with squirrels and/or raccoons.
Perfect for the city dweller wanting to garden, place 6 inches of soil at the bottom of a container. Drop your potato seeds in, and cover them with three inches of soil. Keep adding soil as the shoots grow, and your container will eventually fill with potatoes.
Recommended containers include barrels, cloth grocery bags, and burlap bags.
Step 5: Watch Your Potatoes Grow
The best part about learning how to grow potatoes is how little care they require. You only have to water them once a week—less if it rains! As your potatoes grow, make sure to mound soil around the plant stems.
Check for new potatoes after 50–60 days. Only harvest enough potatoes for 2–3 days at a time and keep them refrigerated.
Growing season lasts for 90–120 days. If you wait until two weeks after the vines die, this will allow the potato skins to harden and they’ll last longer in storage.
While you’re waiting, learn some killer potato recipes for when your first crop is ready!
Step 6: Store Your Potatoes
Store your crop in a cool, dry place with the temperature above freezing. Give your potatoes an even longer shelf life by leaving the dirt on them until you’re ready to cook them.
Now that you know how to grow potatoes, it’s time to enjoy the process of growing your first crop! Don’t forget to let us know how it goes in the comments.
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Featured photo credit: First harvest of organically grown new potatoes via Shutterstock
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