Growing potatoes is a very satisfying and rewarding job in the vegetable garden. We show you the different varieties that you can choose and how to plant them for a great crop.
Good results can be bought about when growing potatoes in your own back yard with a minimum of fuss, they are a very adaptable and aggressive rooting plant. They are technically not roots but stem tubers and are grown from seed potatoes, which are pieces of the mature vegetable.’ A few pointers will make sure of a rich harvest.
First, you should make sure that you buy certified disease-free seed potatoes to give you better results, these are available from your garden centers or nurseries, and they are usually sold in the early spring to coincide with weather conditions suitable for growing potatoes. Do not use leftover spuds which were purchased from your supermarket as these have been chemically treated to slow down sprouting and will not give the desired results.
Next, choose a variety that will suit your needs, whether it will be for baking, frying, boiling, or mashing. You will find the ones recommended for baking usually have a coarse skin with firm flesh and higher starch content, this type is also recommended for mashing and frying, look for Russet, Goldrush, Idaho, Bintje, and Norgold.
Boiling varieties typically have less starch and higher sugar content. This means they will hold together when boiled or used in soups, casseroles, and salads.’ Go for King Edward, Bismark, Superior, Brownell, or Red Pontiac.
All-rounders like Kennebec, Yukon Gold, and Sebago, will do a good job for you, it all boils down (excuse the pun) to taste. The beauty of growing potatoes is that you get to choose; you will find whatever selection you make, they will be far superior to the ones you buy where taste is concerned.
So, how do you start growing potatoes? Use the list above to choose a type and remember your local garden center can be of help too.
Containers or a Potato Bin can be used for growing potatoes (some good varieties are All Blue, Yukon Gold, red Pontiac), they also grow in gardens, allotments, even market gardens.
Make sure you plant in a sunny place; you will be richly rewarded when growing potatoes as they love sunshine. When growing potatoes on a regular basis, you should relocate them every two to three years.
Place the seeds in light and a temperature range of between 60/70F to force them to sprout, this will get you off to a flying start. Each seed should have at least one or two eyes (this is where they sprout from). Spray them with water to prevent drying out. You can cut the larger seeds into two or three pieces, as long as each has at least two eyes. A callous will form over the cuts in a day or so to protect from rotting. The seeds will start sprouting after a couple of weeks and when they are 1inch tall you can plant them out.
In the meantime prepare your soil and adjust your pH, a slightly acidic level of 5.8-6.5 is recommended. The most popular way of growing potatoes is to dig a trench 6-8 inches deep and about 4 inches wide. A Mantis Tiller may make this easy for you. Place your seeds at 15 inches apart to maximize the size of your crop, if you like small spuds space at 4 inches apart. Add some Gurney’s Fertilizer at planting time to improve size, quantity, and yield.
Now you need to half fill the trench, wait for the sprouts to break through the soil, about 2 weeks, then add another 3-4 inch of soil. The tubers will grow in the space between the seed and the surface. When the stems are about eight inches tall, add soil so half the plant is supported, this practice is repeated every 3-4 weeks so the tubers aren’t exposed to light. If this happens they will turn green and become toxic.
It is important to keep the plants well watered on a very regular basis. When growing potatoes don’t let them get too dry, then add a lot of water, then let them dry again, you will end up with disfigured vegetables that look lumpy and will have a very poor texture when cooked.