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How to Grow Potatoes

February 23, 2011

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Potatoes are easy to grow in raised beds, cages, potato bins or in the ground. This year, I’m experimenting with Smart Pot, a 20-gallon fabric container. The manufacture (High Caliper Growing) claims that Smart Pot has “unique breathability and excellent drainage.” Concerned how to sterilize the Smart Pot before reuse I emailed the company. Charles Jackson wrote back, “I would wash it in the washing machine with a little bleach. Do not [heat] dry, the spin cycle will dry the Smart Pot. I may even do this twice just to make sure.”

How about that—a pot you can launder!

At first thought, this seemed like an awkward nuisance. One would have to hose down the Smart Pot to remove dirt granules before shoving it into the washing machine. On the other hand, this method eliminates the use of gloves and a mask, hand scrubbing, and finding a place (if you don’t have an outdoor sink) where bleach won’t infect the soil, plants or run down street drains.

Whatever method you use to grow potatoes, in the ground or in a container, the process is the same. Here are the steps.

 Choosing seed potatoes:

  • Buy certified disease-free seed potatoes. Supermarket potatoes are not seed potatoes and oftentimes treated with a sprouting inhibitor.
  • Choose varieties that you and your family like, but just for fun try something new.

Before planting:

  • Set seed potatoes in a warm room with lots of light. This will cause the eyes (dimples) to sprout.
  • With a clean, sharp knife cut potatoes in half, quarters or 1-inch chunks with one eye per piece. Let the seeds air-dry until the cut edges seal. This helps resist disease.

How to plant:

  • Choose a sunny location with good drainage. Don’t plant in the same area (or follow in rotation) as tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers. These are in the same family as potatoes and can easily spread diseases to potatoes.
  • Containers should be at least 12 inches deep.
  • Work in one trowel or half a shovel of compost per square-foot area of soil. The soil needs to be loose enough for seed potatoes to easily send down roots.
  • To help prevent fungi, shake seed potatoes in a bag with a small amount of sulfur powder until evenly coated.
  • With the ‘eye’ facing up, press seed potatoes firmly into the soil 8-10 inches apart for limited space or 12 inches apart.
  • Cover with a 6-8-inch mound of soil or mulch. Water gently and keep evenly moist.
  • Mound soil or mulch around the plant stems each time they grow about 6 inches.

Harvest:

  • Maturing day will depend on the potato variety.
  • Harvest in the morning while still cool. If the ground is frozen, wait until the soil warms.
  • You can harvest fingerlings and/or mature potatoes after the flowers bloom or wait until the plant dies. Either way, stop watering after flowers bloom. When the plant dies leave the potatoes in the ground for two weeks so the skins can cure.
  • If the soil is wet when harvesting, let the potatoes air dry on the surface.

Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre

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4 comments

  1. Yum! We love potatoes and I want to try to grow some in my garden. What geat timing for this article.

    For all ‘In and Around the Garden’ followers, we were looking at ‘potatoes’ at Lowe’s earlier this week and debating if we should buy the small bag of eyed potatoes for $3.99 I think it was. But after reading today’s posting, I think we’ll give it a try. Lowe’s had at least 3 varieties: Russets, Yukon Gold and Red, and maybe even more.

    I can’t wait for my ‘crop’ to come in. Thanks for another wonderful informational ‘In and Around the Garden’ article. bernadine

    Like


  2. Very interesting “spuds”—also, I like the info on the “Drift Roses”!!

    Like



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