FYI: I seldom grow potatoes. My alkaline clay based soil and our hot dry summers are not well suited to growing potatoes.
When I do plant potatoes, I plant in large containers, things like 6 gallon an larger containers. Under these conditions I can control soil pH, making my soil an acid base soil as well as controlling soil moisture. Container growing also allows me to provide shade protection from our late afternoon sun.
Potatoes are easy to grow, however, to be successful you must do your part. It is a very hands on project.
Seed potatoes are not cheap. I find seed potatoes selling from about $7.50 to $10.00 a pound, usually you must order a minimum of 2 pounds of seed potatoes. Don’t forget, if you mail order them you will be charged for UPS, USPS or Fedex shipping cost on top of your $10.00 seed potato investment.
I recommend that if possible buying your seed potatoes from a local nursery or big box store and save shipping cost.
Cornell university said:
Potatoes require full sun, at least 6 hours of full sun exposure each day.
They require an acid soil that is well drained. The soil should be light, deep, loose soil, high in organic matter.
Unlike most vegetables, potatoes perform best in an acid soil with pH 4.8 – 5.5. (Scab is less of a problem at low pH. If pH is more than 6.0, use scab-resistant varieties.) Needs plentiful, consistent moisture.
Growing is easy if you have the right site and soil.
Pests aren’t usually a bad problem in garden settings.
Height: 1.5 to 3 feet,
Spread: 1.5 to 3 feet
Flower color: violet, Flowers are relatively inconspicuous.
Grown from seed potatoes, tubers grown the previous season.
Germination temperature: 40F. Do not plant seed potatoes until soil reaches 40 F.
Sprouts from seed potatoes should emerge in 2 to 4 weeks depending on soil temperature.
Potatoes perform best in areas where summers are cool (65 F to 70 F), but are widely adapted.
Potatoes require a well drained soil. If your soil is poorly drained or a heavy clay, consider using raised beds. Adding organic matter, compost, cover crops, well rotted manure or leaves, is a good way to improve soil before growing potatoes.
Organic matter sources high in nitrogen (such as manure) and nitrogen fertilizer can encourage lush foliage at the expense of tuber production.
Potatoes perform best in acid soil with pH 4.8 – 5.5.
Use scab-resistant varieties with pH above 6.0.
Buy certified disease free seed potatoes from garden centers or through online or mail order catalogs for best results. Avoid planting potatoes from the supermarket because they may have been treated with sprout inhibitors. They may be prone to disease.
Cut seed potatoes that are larger than a chicken egg into pieces about 1 inch across or slightly larger. Each piece should have at least one “eye” (the bud where the stem will grow from) better yet two eyes. Egg size and smaller tubers can be planted whole.
Cut seed potato pieces are allowed to cure for a few days to a few weeks before planting. This is because the cut potatoes need high humidity, plenty of oxygen and temperatures between 50 F and 65 F to heal quickly. If conditions are not right, uncured seed potatoes will rot in the ground.
Hint: Put potatoes into a large brown paper grocery bag and fold the top closed. Keep the bag at room temperature for 2 or 3 days, then shake the bag to unstick pieces that may have stuck together. Let sit for another 2 to 3 days before planting.
For faster emergence, keep the bag of cut potatoes at room temperature until sprouts appear. Some varieties are slow to break dormancy and benefit from a 2- to 4-week “pre-warming” before planting. Others sprout in just a few days.
Plant about 2 to 4 weeks before your last frost date. The soil temperature must be at least 40F.Avoid planting where you've grown potatoes, tomatoes, peppers or eggplant in the past 2 years.
Common way to plant potatoes is to dig a shallow trench about 4 inches deep with a hoe. Place the seed potato pieces with their eyes up (cut sides down) about 8 to 12 inches apart in the trench, and replace soil. Space trenches about 2 to 3 feet apart. Stems and foliage should emerge in about 2 to 4 weeks, depending on soil temperature.
When the plants are about 6 to 8 inches tall, “hill” the potatoes by hoeing soil loosely around the base of the plants to within about an inch of the lower leaves from both sides of the row. Repeat in about 2 to 3 weeks. You may want to make additional hillings, gradually building a 6 to 8 inch ridge down the row. (Hilling keeps the developing potatoes from being exposed to sun).
*Alternatively, snuggle seed pieces shallowly into the soil and cover with a thick layer of clean straw or other weed free mulch. Add more mulch as needed to keep light from reaching potatoes. (A foot or more of mulch may be required.) Tubers grown this way can be easily harvested by pulling back the mulch after the plants die.
*Method 3. If you have excellent potato growing soil is to plant seed potatoes 7 to 8 inches deep and skip hilling or deep mulching. The potatoes are slower to emerge, but this method requires less effort during the growing season.
Potatoes need at least 1 inch of water per week from either rainfall or deep watering. Mulching helps retain moisture. Keeping the soil from drying out will reduce scab problems.
Prevent Early blight and Late blight by use certified seed. Avoid wetting plant foliage if possible. Water early in the day so above ground plant parts will dry as quickly as possible.
*Blight resistant or moderately resistant varieties include Allegany, Elba, Rosa and Sebago.
*Scab resistant varieties: Chieftan, Norland, Russet Burbank, Russet Rural and Superior.
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