One common mistake gardeners make is not following proper potato prep. Is this you?
Potato prep is an important step prior to planting for proper root development and plant takeoff. Potatoes is one of my favorite veggies to grow in the garden. It is definitely one of the easiest vegetables for me to grow each and every year. And in different ways, too!
In this post, I’m going to:
- Give you some super easy steps for potato prep before you plant.
- The importance of preparing seed potatoes for planting.
- How to grow potatoes wherever you are.
Because if you love potatoes like I do, you’re going to want to grow a lot of them!
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Why We Love Farm Fresh Potatoes
The tater, commonly known as the Irish Potato, is one of the most important world food crops and a staple for many large gardens.
I really adore how easy potatoes are to grow. When I prep my potatoes and plant them properly, I generally yield a crop that is more than enough for my family and I until well into Spring.
We enjoy these potatoes in many different ways. Potatoes make excellent side dishes paired with the farm fresh meat we raise on our farm. We can’t get enough baked potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes or homemade french fries with our steak and hamburgers. They also store amazing, too, so we can enjoy potatoes all winter.
I used to not use the potato prep prior to planting. However since trying it, my potato yields have increased year after year. Are you ready to learn this method? Keep reading!
Preparing seed potatoes for planting
Did you know you needed to prep your seed potatoes before planting? It is not something many people know about, but it is very important to promote healthy potato plant growth.
First of all, remember to always purchase new seed potatoes as using tubers from previous years can result in a reduction in yield and vigor.
Then, you need to cut the tubers into 1.5 – 2 ounce pieces. An average-sized potato is cut into four pieces, while a large potato is cut into six. Then, store the cut seed in a warm, humid location for 2-3 days to allow the freshly cut surface to “heal.” This prevents the seed piece from rotting when planted.
Typical planting of seed potatoes are 12 inches apart in rows three feet apart. Once your potatoes are healed, they are ready to go into the ground!
Let’s talk about how to grow them and what varieties grow well for home gardeners.
How to Grow Potatoes
Tubers form best at temperatures of 60-70 degrees F; therefore, early spring planting is preferable. Skin color on varieties can be white, red, or russet. The most popular varieties include Kennebec, Irish Cobbler, Norgold, Viking, and Reddale.
This year, I’m planting Yukon Gold potatoes for the first time. They are advertised as buttery and delicious. Who can resist that?
But honestly, there are hundreds of varieties of potatoes out in the world that are available to anyone to plant. You need to plant the one that grows well for your area. You can find out what those varieties are by visiting your local garden center, talking to your neighbor or your local Extension service.
What about when to plant?
In Kansas, we like to plant potatoes around St. Patrick’s Day. Be sure to check on your zone to see when the best time to plant your potatoes would be. My location is Zone 6a and I plant my garden veggies and fruits in accordance with guidelines for that specific zone.
This depends on weather conditions, but I remember many years of planting potatoes on March 17. I have actually been planting my potatoes a week or two later than this date the past few years. But this year, I’m planting a group on March 1 to hit the early Farmer’s Market dates.
5 Different Ways to Plant Potatoes
Once you’ve prepped your seed potatoes, you can plant them in whatever way works best for you. Let’s talk about a few ways that you can grow potatoes wherever you are.
Don’t have a garden? No problem! I include a few examples below where you don’t have to have any acreage to plant potatoes.
Let’s dig into all the ways you can grow potatoes.
Growing potatoes in containers
If you don’t have a ton of space but want potatoes for you and your family, containers is a great way to do this. The container needs to be fairly deep for this root crop to spread it’s roots and grow. You can use old coolers, freezers or other deep container you might find in the local landfill or if someone is giving it away.
Growing potatoes in tires
If you have old tires or large truck or tractor tires sitting around, you can use them as a raised bed for potatoes. Simply fill them with soil and plant your seed potatoes as normal.
Potato grow bags
This is an evergrowing popular way to grow potatoes if you don’t have much space. You can purchase potato growing bags at garden stores or online and start growing easily.
Growing potatoes in straw
If you have straw bales handy, did you know you can grow potatoes right into them? This is the new trend in growing potatoes because the potatoes stay clean. No dirt needed. Here’s how it’s done.
Straw bales are set in an area that receives full sunlight. This is another thing that’s nice about straw bale potato growing. You can set this bale even in places unsuitable for a garden.
Next, you’ll need to prepare the bale for growing potatoes. It will speed up the decomposition process inside the bale to create a rich compost for growing. Saturate the bale with water until it runs freely all the way through the bale. Do this for 3 days and then sprinkle 1 cup bone meal over the top of the bale. Water thoroughly. Repeat the procedure for two more days.
After 10 days, sprinkle the bales with 10-10-10 fertilizer and water thoroughly.
Then, you can check the center of the bale to make sure it doesn’t feel too hot. If it does, wait a few days before planting the seed potatoes. On planting day, plant potatoes 4-6 inches deep about 6-12 inches apart along the bale. Then, close the hay over the top of the potatoes. Continue to keep the bale moist with water and soon, you’ll be seeing little potato plants emerging.
Good ol’ fashioned growing potatoes right into the dirt
My favorite way to grow potatoes is to plant them right into my garden spot. Once they are prepped, they are super easy to grow and will take off.
I do make sure to rotate my potato location from year to year to reduce the potato bugs. Other than that, it’s a pretty simple and effective way to grow potatoes. I harvest them with a potato fork.
Whichever way you choose to grow them should be the one that works best for you and your values and needs.
Prep Potatoes for more Delicious Meals
Before we can get the tasties, we have to prep and grow our potatoes. No matter which variety you choose, try to prep your potatoes before planting them the way I showed you above.
I think you’ll find a more vibrant plant with even more potato yield for you and your family to enjoy.
~ Much Love ~
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