Growing Potatoes and When to Plant Potatoes in your garden
Growing potatoes in your garden is fun and very rewarding. Harvesing potatoes is like a treasure hunt. With so many varieties and colors of potatoes available, it is essential that we know how to grow potatoes, how and when to plant potatoes in your garden.
How to grow potatoes
A growing potato plant doesnt need lot of attention actually. Potatoes are a cool weather crop, so the best time to plant them is early spring. If you are in the tropics, check your sowing schedule for more appropriate sowing times.Growing potatoes in your garden starts with a seed potato rather than a seed. Seed potatoes are potatoes themselves that have a sprout or buds coming out of the nodes in the potato tuber what is commonly called as “eyes”. Seed potatoes are those that are infection and disease free.
Once you have the seed potatoes, there are many ways to plant potatoes. They can be grown straight in the ground. Growing potatoes can also be done in big containers that have more root space.
Planting potatoes in the ground
Planting potatoes start with the a sprouted seed potato. If there are no sprouts in the seed potato, they “chitted” to ensure the sprouts show up before planting potatoes. Chitting is a process of providing an environment to seed potatoes so that they grow sprouts on the eyes of the potatoes.
The seed potatoes are planted about 2-3 inches under the ground. As the growing potato plants become larger in size, the soil is mounded to ensure they get lots of soil space around the roots to ensure more potato tubers form.
Planting Potatoes in Containers:
There is nothing more fun than growing potatoes in a container. Preferrably a 5-10 gallon container is used. Larger the better. Fill the up the container with 1/3″ of good potting soil. You can easily make a rich potting soil your self. Place the potatoes on the top of the soil and cover them. In a week, the sprouts will show up, as the growing potato plant becomes larger, keep adding more and more potting soil until the entire pot is covered.
One can also get creative and make containers out of barrels, used tires and even straws.
Adding rich organic compost while growing potatoes will do lots of good to the plant and also enrich the soil. The potting mix for a container should also be amended with good compost. One can also water the plants with a good water soluble fertilizer that is high in potassium to get good sized tubers.
While growing potatoes, one question remains in the gardener’s mind. When to harvest the potatoes? The early signs of potatoes getting ready for harvest.When you see the potato plant flowering, its time for early potatoes. Early potatoes are soft skinned and creamy. They taste the best. You can always dig up a few when the potato plant goes to flower.
If you need fully grown potatoes just like the ones you get from the grocery store, then you need to wait for the plant to dry out and die back. Growing potatoes till the end of the plant gives you fully grown potatoes that store well. Once harvested, all them to air dry before storing them.