02 May 2011

Growing Potatoes: Spring 2011

If you've never grown potatoes, you should.  Especially if you're new to gardening.  They are one of the easiest root crops to grow.  There are many different varieties and they are all delicious.

In order to grow a potato, you basically just put a potato in the ground and bury it.  Then it turns into lots of other potatoes.

Potatoes can be grown in many different ways.  At our old house, we grew them in containers.  When we moved into our new place, we created a specific plot for potatoes.  
Most websites and nurseries suggest that you only use certified seed potatoes, but we've used both seed potatoes as well as just regular ol' potatoes from the store.  You can either cut the potato or just plant it whole.  We've done both.  With smaller potatoes, just plant them whole.  Larger ones, you can cut them in half or quarters, let the cuts callus-over and then plant.

After you bury the potatoes either in the ground or in a container, you wait for them to start growing.  As they develop to about 4-6 inches, add more soil around the plants, this adds more soil for the tubers to continue to develop.

It is also suggested that crops are rotated every year.  So, this year Willis built another raised bed for our new potato crops.   We didn't have enough wood for a whole bed, but we'll build it up when  the potatoes start growing and we need to add more soil.  We plan on replacing the bed to the left of it as well as building a 5th bed, so we'll pick up some more wood for those as well.

Potatoes can be harvested at a variety of stages.  In order to harvest an entire crop, stop adding soil and wait for the tops of the plants to die off.  You'll have to dig around for the potatoes and you'll think that you've found them all.  But you're probably wrong.  We thought we got all the potatoes out of the last bed, but they're popping up all over the place!
After the potatoes are harvested, it is also a good idea to plant a cover crop to re-establish the soil.  We planted fava beans.

How do your potatoes grow?

For more gardening tips, check out this blog carnival:

Currently listening to:
The Babies - Wild I

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