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Potato Prep: How to Prepare Your Spuds for Planting

One common mistake gardeners make is not following proper potato prep or how to prepare potatoes for planting. 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, which include cutting seed potatoes for planting.
  • 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 in your home gardens!

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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!

How to Prepare 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 certified seed potatoes as using tubers from previous years can result in a reduction in yield and vigor.

Use a clean knife, such as a paring knife and cutting board to cut potatoes for planting.

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 location with high humidity 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 nice loose soil and well-drained soil!

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 Russet Burbank, Pontiac Red Potatoes, Kennebec White Potatoes, Irish Cobbler, Gold Rush, Viking, and Reddale.

I personally love planting Yukon Gold potatoes. They are so 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. There are potato varieties for warmer regions and cool weather crop potato varieties as well. There’s also drought-resistant varieties that require very little water as well as varieties that are more resistant to fungal disease and potato blight. Do your own research and discover varieties that are a good choice for your growing area. 

You should 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. Seed magazines also have very good information when it comes to choosing the best new potatoes for your growing season. 

Step-By-Step Guide for Growing Potatoes

Once your potatoes are in the ground, what do you do? 

Well, you should monitor your growing area for any weeds or other signs of disturbance at the soil surface before your new plants are up. You’ll also need to monitor water – especially in super wet weather. 

Then, once the plants are up, you’ll need to really keep them weeded. This involves scouting every day. When you scout, you’ll also need to look for signs of Colorado Potato Beetles. It’s important to catch problems early so you can adjust and correct as needed with your potato crops. 

Another important thing to do is to mulch your potato plants. you can use straw or other organic matter. Mulching is really great for holding moisture in and weed control in your own garden. For best results, wait until the potato plants are up and then mulch all the way around the plants. Soon, you can check your plants for early potatoes that are great to eat with peas in a cream sauce. Yum!

​Finally, the nice thing about growing potatoes and other root vegetables is that they can sit in your garden until you’re ready to dig them up. Each potato plant is going to produce several potatoes so you’ll have plenty of new potatoes to enjoy before you harvest your maincrop potatoes later on. 

What about when to plant? 

Is there a list of best dates to plant potatoes? When is the right time to plant?

Well, 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. But in reality, I use soil temperature to determine planting. Soil temperature is the best indication that your garden soil is ready for planting. 

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. Sometimes, this doesn’t work – It really depends upon what the weather is up to. 

5 Different Ways to Plant Baby Prepped 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. 

While I get lots of questions for how to plant seed potatoes in a garden. However there are other ways…

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. 

A) 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. It also needs to be well-draining. You can use old coolers, freezers or other deep container you might find in the local landfill or if someone is giving it away. 

B) 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 nice fluffy soil and plant your cut seed potatoes as normal. 

C) Potato grow bags

This is an ever growing 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. 

D) 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. 

10-10-10 Fertilizer works well or Bone Meal

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. 

E) 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. 

Grab your own potato fork here

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.


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Tuesday 3rd of April 2018

I live in Sri Lanka which is in the tropics.Please let me have information on growing tropical vegetables preferably in pots because my garden space is very limited

Mindy Young

Wednesday 4th of April 2018

Hello, Bala! Absolutely. I love growing vegetables in pots. I will be creating content on this for you and many others. Keep in touch.

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