How to grow potatoes

Potatoes always grow best in full sun. These are strong rooting plants, and we find that they will produce the best crops when planted in light, loose, neutral conditions. Potatoes prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 7.0. Fortunately, potatoes are adaptable and often produce a respectable crop, even when soil conditions and growing season are not ideal. Keep your potato fields weed free for best results. Potatoes should be transplanted in the field and not grown in the same place until there are no potatoes 3 to 4 years old.

When to plant potatoes

 Potatoes can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, in early spring, but keep in mind the soil temperature. Potato plants will not begin to grow until soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F. The soil should be moist, but not wet.
Potatoes can tolerate light frosts, but you need to provide some frost protection to the plants if you know that the frosts will be hard next season. If you want to extend the storage period and have a longer growing season, you can plant a second crop as soon as June 15 and bring potatoes as early as possible.


Cut potatoes before planting
A week or two before planting date, place your potato plants in a sheltered spot with temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F. This will start the germination process. A day or two before planting, use a sharp, clean knife to cut large seed potatoes into small pieces. Each leaf should be about 2 inches wide and have at least 1 or 2 eyes or buds. Peel the small potatoes. A good rule of thumb is to plant whole potatoes if they are smaller than a golf ball. In about a day, your seed will develop a large callus on the incision, which will help prevent rotting. 

Planting potatoes in the garden
We find that it is best to plant potatoes in rows. To start, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep. Cut each potato strip (cut side down, eye pointing up) every 12 to 15 inches, in rows three feet apart. If you have limited space or want to grow only baby potatoes, you can reduce the space between the plants. 

To start, fill the hole with only 4 inches. Let the plants start to grow, then continue to fill the trench and even break down the soil around the plants as they continue to grow. Before planting, be sure to do the final soil work. This will remove any weeds, loosen the soil and allow plants to establish quickly. 

How to water potatoes
Keep your potato vines well-groomed during the summer, especially during the flowering period and immediately after the flowering period. During this flowering period, plants produce their tubers and regular watering is essential for a good harvest. Potatoes do best with 1 to 2 inches of water or rain per week. When the leaf turns yellow and begins to die, stop watering. This will help to start treating potatoes for harvest time.

When to harvest potatoes

 Baby potatoes can be harvested 2-3 weeks after the plants are finished. Gently dig around the plant to remove potatoes for fresh eating, being careful not to interfere. Try to remove the larger new potatoes and leave the smaller ones so they can continue to grow. Only take what you can eat right away. Fresh potatoes grown at home are a luxury and should be used the same day they are harvested.

Potatoes to be kept for storage should be dug only 2 to 3 weeks after their green leaves. Carefully dig the potatoes with a strong fork and if the weather is dry, let them sit in the field, without washing it, for 2-3 days. This period of maturity allows the skin to mature and is important for good protection. If the weather at harvest is wet and rainy, leave the potatoes to dry in a sheltered area such as a garage or covered porch.


 Storage conditions
At the currency exchange. we are able to store potatoes until the spring and we are underground root cellar. Try to find a well-ventilated, dark and cool place. The best temperature is between 35 and 40 degrees F. Keep in mind that some varieties are better than others. Varieties such as Red Gold and Rose Gold are best used in the fall, and others such as Carola and Russets are special exceptional keepers.

Saving seed stock
Gardeners can save seeds for many generations. Save the best potatoes for planting. You may notice that after several years, the size starts to decrease; it is common. Potatoes are very susceptible to viruses. If you're looking for the best seeds, it's best to start with fresh USDA seeds each year.

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