How To Grow Potatoes

Welcome to the wonderful world of how to grow potatoes!

Growing your own spuds is a surprisingly simple and rewarding experience, perfect for beginners. This guide will take you through the key steps, from choosing your potatoes to harvesting your delicious bounty.

Potato Planting Preparation:

  1. Timing: Plant potatoes in spring, after the last frost in your area. In Colorado Springs, that’s typically late April or early May. Check your local frost dates to be sure.
  2. Location: Pick a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Potatoes love loose, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH (around 5.5 to 6.5). If your soil is heavy clay, amend it with compost or raised beds.
  3. Seed Potatoes: Don’t use grocery store potatoes! Get certified “seed potatoes” from a garden center. They’re disease-free and more likely to produce a good crop. Choose varieties best suited to your climate and desired harvest time. Popular beginner options include:
    • First Earlies: Red Duke of York, Jersey Royal (ready in 10-12 weeks)
    • Second Earlies: Maris Peer, Desiree (ready in 14-16 weeks)
    • Maincrop: Maris Piper, King Edward (ready in 18-20 weeks)

How To Plant Potatoes:

There are a lot of varying opinions on the planting portion of how to grow potatoes. Planting is no doubt and important step. Equally important, is taking action. In other words, if you only have time to throw a seed potato in a pot and walk away, do it! Following these tips will give your potatoes the best chance of thriving, but potatoes are resilient and easy to grow even if you do nothing more than plant and water occasionally.

  1. Chitting (Optional): Place your seed potatoes in an egg carton, eye-side up, in a cool, bright spot for 1-2 weeks before planting. This encourages sprouts, giving your potatoes a head start.
  2. Digging: Create trenches or holes about 4-6 inches deep and 12-18 inches apart. You can plant in rows or stagger them in a grid.
  3. Planting: Place a seed potato (whole or cut with 2-3 eyes) in each hole or trench, eye-side up. Cover with 3-4 inches of soil.
  4. Watering: Give your potatoes a good soak and keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.

Potato Vegetative Growth:

  1. Mulching: Add a layer of straw or compost around your plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and prevent tubers from greening in sunlight.
  2. Earthing Up: As your potato plants grow, gradually add more soil around their stems to encourage tuber formation. Do this every few weeks until the soil reaches the base of the leaves.
  3. Watering: Water regularly, especially during hot, dry spells. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week.
  4. Pest and Disease Control: Keep an eye out for pests like Colorado potato beetles and diseases like blight. Organic methods like handpicking pests and removing infected leaves can often be effective.

How To Harvest Potatoes:

  1. Timing: Stop watering about 2 weeks before harvest to allow the skins to toughen up for storage. Early varieties are typically ready in 10-12 weeks, while maincrop varieties take longer. You can gently dig around a plant to check for potato size.
  2. Digging: Carefully dig up your potatoes using a trowel or fork. Avoid bruising them.
  3. Curing: Let your potatoes air dry in a cool, dark place for a week or two to develop their flavor and skin. Once cured, store them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area like a basement or root cellar.

Potato Growing Bonus Tips:

  • Rotate your potato planting area each year to prevent disease build-up.
  • Companion planting with marigolds or nasturtiums can help deter pests.
  • Save some of your homegrown potatoes for next year’s planting!

With a little effort and patience, you’ll be enjoying the fruits (or should I say tubers?) of your labor in no time. Happy potato growing!

If you enjoyed Ace’s guide on how to grow potatoes, check out his newest tips on growing strawberries.

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