Potatoes are a fun and rewarding food to grow because they grow so differently from other garden goodies. Instead of growing from seeds, potatoes grow from cut potatoes or small potatoes. Have you ever seen a potato sprout if it sits in your cupboards long enough? It’s trying to produce more potatoes!
Planting potatoes are so easy, I child can do it. In fact, my seven year old planted ours for me this year.
First you need to find some seed potatoes. Your local seed and garden supply store should have them. Seed potatoes are better than potatoes you got from the grocery store because they have been checked to see if they are disease free and will sprout. Potatoes from the store have often been spray with a chemical that prohibits them from sprouting.
Next you want to cut your potatoes into chunks so that each chunk contains 2-3 eyes. The eyes are where they will sprout. Do not plant right away. The cut part needs to dry for a couple of days and produce a “scab”, which will prevent potato rot.
Next find yourself and area that has well drained and loose soil. You don’t want rock hard ground for this. Also in most climates, you will want to plant in early spring when the weather is cool. In my area, that’s often around St. Patrick’s Day. We got ours in the ground a little later this year but we have had some late snows.
Plant each potato chunk about 12 inches apart. I had my daughter lay out the potatoes where she was going to bury them just to make sure the spacing was right.
Then dig a small hole about 3-4 inches deep and place the potato cut side down with the eyes facing up.
Cover it and keep the ground watered but not soggy. You don’t want the potatoes to rot.
Pretty soon, you will start to see potato plants emerging above the ground. When the plants are about six inches tall, you will want to “hill” the dirt around the plant. All that means is to push some more dirt around the plant to make a little hill to ensure that the potatoes stay underground.
Your plants will grow and then eventually start to die. Harvest full size potatoes 2-3 weeks after plants have started to die. For new potatoes you can harvest a couple of weeks earlier. Feel free to test a mound to check the size of the potatoes. I like to harvest some in the new potato stage to cook with green beans and some at the full size stage for mashing and baking.
That’s the general process. Happy gardening!