How To Grow Potatoes
There are lots of reasons why you might want to know how to grow potatoes. Maybe you want to save on cash, and know that home-grown potatoes cost very little. Maybe you want to prove to yourself and everybody else that you can be self-sufficient and raise your own food. Some people just love to dig in the dirt, and potatoes are a good excuse. Whatever the reason, growing potatoes is fun and easy!
You will need the following:
- Seed potatoes
- A place to plant them
- A spade
- A knife
- Place the seed potatoes somewhere with lots of sun where they will get warm. Being heated to 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the potatoes to start sprouting small green "eyes" on the outside surface. These will eventually become the leaves and stalks of the plants.
- Wait one to two weeks for the potatoes to sprout enough.
- If necessary, cut up the seed potatoes. Small or medium-sized potatoes can be planted whole, but large ones need to be cut up into sections with two or three "eyes" per section. You should do this a day or two before planting.
- Dig holes in the soil roughly twelve inches apart. Make them only a couple of inches deep, but use the spade to break up the soil about twelve inches from the surface so that the roots can grow in easily.
- Plant the potatoes. There should be one seed potato per hole, and you should cover them with three to four inches of soil. Easy!
- Water thoroughly once per week. The sprouts will reach the surface in roughly two weeks -- faster if the soil is warmer.
- Add soil as needed to keep the tubers covered. If potatoes are exposed to the surface and sun while growing, they will turn green in those areas and become toxic -- don't eat the green parts.
- Harvest when the plants' vines are turning brown. For "baby potatoes", harvest when the plant is flowering.
- Seed potatoes can be found at most garden and supply stores during the spring, which is potato-planting season. Plant nurseries also sell them. Because they are a fairly hardy vegetable, potatoes can be planted virtually anywhere -- they grow in regular soil, so you don't even need fertilizer (although you can add a little peat moss if you like.) Be sure that your planting location is in good direct sunlight, though, or they won't grow. A spade is a small triangular hand shovel used to soften and dig in soil; you'll be using it to plant the potatoes. Finally, the knife is to cut the seed potatoes into pieces of ideal planting size.
- Be careful not to over-water your potatoes -- too much water will cause the tubers to turn black in the centers and rot in the ground. When growing potatoes, the spacing of the plants determines how big the potatoes grow. For larger potatoes, space the plants up to three feet apart. If you like baby potatoes, try spacing the plants as close as four inches -- the potatoes will be smaller, but will grow much faster. Large or small, if you tend your crops carefully you'll end up with some delicious potatoes!