Learn how to grow potatoes this year! Hi there, My name is Juliea, I’m an Idaho mother of 6 who’s been gardening for years. We grow tons of potatoes around here and I’m excited to share my tips on how to grow potatoes successfully.
Growing potatoes is a good idea for any home gardener. With a little bit of care, you can grow a bountiful crop of organic potatoes that are perfect for so many recipes. Head to your local garden center and pick up some seed potatoes to get started today!
Potatoes are a great crop for any home gardener to grow. They’re easy to grow, require minimal care, and produce a sustaining bountiful harvest. So, let’s get started!
How To Grow Potatoes #1 – Choose the Right Potato Variety
There are many potato varieties to choose from, including Yukon Gold, red potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Early potatoes are a good choice if you want to enjoy new potatoes in early summer. Late potatoes are perfect for those who want to store their potatoes for use in the fall and winter. Choose a potato variety that suits your needs.
There are many different types of potatoes to grow, each with its unique characteristics and flavor profiles.
The most common types of potatoes to grow in your garden:
- Russet Potatoes: These are the classic baking potatoes that are used for making French fries, mashed potatoes, and baked potatoes. They have a high starch content and a dry, fluffy texture when cooked.
- Red Potatoes: Red potatoes have thin, smooth skin and a firm, creamy flesh. They’re perfect for boiling, roasting, and making potato salad.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes: Yukon Gold potatoes have a buttery, golden flesh and a thin, smooth skin. They’re great for mashed potatoes, roasting, and baking.
- Fingerling Potatoes: Fingerling potatoes are small, thin potatoes with a waxy texture and nutty flavor. They’re great for roasting and grilling.
- Purple Potatoes: Purple potatoes have deep purple skin and flesh. They’re high in antioxidants and are great for roasting and boiling.
- Sweet Potatoes: These potatoes are not grown the same way I’m teaching in this article… They are wonderful, but these are for another time! Sweet potatoes have a sweet, creamy flesh and are high in vitamins and fiber. They’re great for baking, roasting, and making sweet potato fries.
- New Potatoes: New potatoes are harvested before they’re fully mature and have a delicate, sweet flavor. They’re great for boiling and making potato salad.
- Adirondack Blue Potatoes: These are a type of purple potato that has deep blue skin and flesh. They’re high in antioxidants and are great for roasting and boiling.
- German Butterball Potatoes: These potatoes have a buttery flavor and a creamy texture. They’re great for making mashed potatoes and are also good for roasting and frying.
There are many other varieties of potatoes to choose from, each with its unique flavor and texture. I like trying different potato varieties to find the ones I like best!
Prepare the Soil
Potato plants need well-drained soil with organic matter. Start by preparing your soil in the early spring before planting your new plants. To grow potatoes, the soil needs to be loose and have a good amount of organic matter. Dig in extra soil and compost if necessary.
Potatoes are a popular crop that can be easily grown in a home garden. Prepping the soil correctly is an essential step in ensuring a successful potato harvest.
Here are the steps to follow to prepare the soil for growing potatoes:
- Choose the right spot: Potatoes require full sun, well-drained soil, and loose soil to grow. Choose a spot in your garden that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day and has good drainage.
- Clear the area: Clear the area of any weeds, rocks, or debris. This will ensure that your potato plants have enough space to grow and that they’re not competing with other plants for nutrients.
- Add organic matter: Add organic matter, such as compost or aged manure, to the soil. This will improve soil fertility and help the soil retain moisture. Spread a layer of organic matter over the soil and mix it in with a garden fork or tiller.
- Test soil pH: Potatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. Use a soil test kit to test the pH of your soil. If the pH is too high, add sulfur to lower it. If the pH is too low, add lime to raise it.
- Add extra soil: Potatoes grow best in soil that’s at least 12 inches deep. If your soil is shallow, add extra soil to create a deeper planting area. You can create a raised bed or use a grow bag to create a deeper planting area.
How To Grow Potatoes
- Prepare seed potatoes: Cut larger seed potatoes into smaller pieces, making sure each piece has at least one eye. Let the cut pieces dry for a couple of days before planting. This will help prevent rot and fungal diseases.
- Plant seed potatoes: Plant the seed potatoes in early spring, once the soil temperature has reached at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Dig a hole 4 inches deep and place the seed potato with the eye facing up. Cover the seed potato with soil.
- Hill the soil: As the potato plants grow, hill the soil up around the base of the plants. This will help prevent potato tubers from turning green and becoming bitter.
By following these steps, you can prepare your soil to grow healthy potato plants and ensure a successful potato harvest.
You can plant small seed potatoes or whole potatoes from the previous year. Cut larger potatoes into smaller pieces, making sure each piece has at least one “eye” or sprout. Plant your potatoes about 4 inches deep and 12 inches apart in rows. If you have limited space, consider using a raised bed or grow bag.
Plant seed potatoes: Place one seed potato piece in each planting hole with the eye facing up. Cover the seed potato with 2 inches of soil. Space the seed potatoes 12 inches apart.
How to Water Growing Potato Plants
Potatoes need regular watering to grow well. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Water the plants about once a week, more frequently during dry periods. Learn how to use less water when growing potatoes here.
Add Soil as Potato Plants Grow
As your potato plants grow, they will start to push through the soil surface. Add a few inches of soil to cover the base of the plants. This will protect the potato tubers from sunlight and prevent them from turning green. Continue to add soil every couple of weeks as the plants grow taller.
Hill the soil: As the potato plants grow, hill the soil up around the base of the plants. This will help prevent potato tubers from turning green and becoming bitter. You can use a hoe to gently pull soil up around the base of the plants.
Control Potato Plant Pests
Here are some common pests that can affect growing potatoes:
- Colorado potato beetles: Colorado potato beetles are one of the most common pests that affect potato plants. They are yellow-orange beetles with black stripes and can quickly defoliate a plant. To control Colorado potato beetles, handpick them off the plants or use organic insecticides.
- Potato tuberworm: Potato tuberworms are small, grayish-brown moths that lay eggs on the leaves of potato plants. The larvae tunnel into the potato tubers, causing damage and making the potatoes susceptible to fungal diseases. To control potato tuberworms, use insecticides or remove infected plants.
- Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can suck the sap from potato plants, causing damage and transmitting plant viruses. To control aphids, use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Wireworms: Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles and can cause damage to potato tubers by tunneling through them. To control wireworms, use crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, or insecticides.
- Flea beetles: Flea beetles are small, black beetles that can cause damage to potato plants by feeding on the leaves. To control flea beetles, use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Slugs: Slugs can cause damage to potato plants by eating the leaves and tunneling into the potato tubers. To control slugs, use slug bait or diatomaceous earth.
By monitoring your potato plants for signs of pest damage and using organic pest control methods, you can prevent pests from affecting the health and yield of your potato crop.
Protect Against Fungas in Growing Potatoes
Potato blight is a fungal disease that can damage your entire crop. Look for brown spots on the leaves and remove them immediately. To prevent fungal disease, make sure the soil temperature stays between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Harvest Potato Plants
Potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to die back in late summer. Dig up the entire plant and gently remove the potatoes from the soil. Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place for use in potato salad, mashed potatoes, or any other recipe.
How To Store Home-Grown Potatoes
You’ve worked hard… Now you have a wheelbarrow full of spuds. Where will y ou keep them? Properly storing your potato harvest is important to ensure that the potatoes stay fresh and do not spoil. Here are the steps to follow to store potato harvest:
Cure the potatoes:
After harvesting the potatoes, let them sit in a dry, cool place with good air circulation for about two weeks. This will help to toughen the skins and extend the storage life of the potatoes.
Sort and discard damaged potatoes:
Sort through your potato harvest and discard any potatoes that are damaged, have cuts or bruises, or show signs of disease. Damaged potatoes can spoil quickly and spread disease to healthy potatoes.
Store in a cool, dark place:
Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place with a temperature between 45-50°F (7-10°C). A basement, root cellar, or dark pantry are all good options. Keep the potatoes away from light, as exposure to light can cause potatoes to develop green patches and become bitter.
Use appropriate storage containers:
Potatoes should be stored in breathable containers, such as burlap bags, paper bags, or cardboard boxes. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and cause the potatoes to rot. Make sure the containers have ventilation holes to allow for good air circulation.
Check for sprouting and decay:
Regularly check the potatoes for signs of sprouting or decay. Remove any sprouting potatoes or those with soft spots or mold to prevent the spread of disease.
Do not store with onions:
Do not store potatoes with onions, as onions release gases that can cause potatoes to spoil more quickly.
By following these steps, you can store your potato harvest properly and enjoy fresh, delicious potatoes for several months after harvest.
How to Grow Potatoes
To plant a potato, first, you must know It’s not just any seed, but one that will grow. Find a spud with eyes, that’s ready to sow And soon you’ll have a crop, that’s ready to show.
In the soil, you’ll place your seed with care, And soon enough, a sprout will appear. As it grows taller, you’ll start to prepare, For the time when you’ll dig up potatoes, so rare!
The leaves will spread wide, and the plant will flower. It’s a sign that the tubers have grown in power! Under the soil, they’ll wait for you to devour, A tasty crop that will last you for many an hour!
Once they’re big enough, you’ll dig them all up, And you’ll see the fruits of your labor, filling your cup! With potatoes so tasty, they’ll make your heart jump up, And you’ll know that growing them was worth every single cup!
So if you’re looking for a crop to sow, And want to watch it grow and grow, Consider potatoes, and soon you’ll know, The joy of a harvest, that’s sure to glow!