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How to Grow Potatoes

Gloved hands holding harvested potatoes.

Potatoes are one of the most popular tubers on the planet. Not only are they delicious, but they are also hardy and easy to grow, making them a great option even for people who don’t think they have a green thumb.

Skill Level: Beginner
Time:

Quick Facts About Growing Potatoes

Soil temperature: 15-20 Degrees Celsius

Types of Potatoes to Grow: Seed Potatoes

When to Plant: April-June

Spacing: 12-15 inches, rows spaced 3 feet apart

Harvest Time: July - September

What to plant with: Beans, corn, peas

What to avoid planting with: Tomatoes

  1. Step 1 Prepare the Soil

    A gloved hand planting a seed potato.

    When preparing soil for container growing, drainage holes are key. If your barrel or box does not have drainage holes, drill ¼-½-inch holes about 6 inches apart in the bottom and sides near the bottom of your container. Set the container in a sunny spot up on blocks or bricks so it sits a few inches above the ground, allowing air to circulate and water to drain. Fill the bottom of your barrel or box with a 3” layer of peat-based potting mix and 3” of compost.

    For garden or in-ground growing, simply ensure that your soil is moist and mixed well with peat moss and compost. This method is ideal for many people who have the space and want to grow a traditional potato crop.

  2. Step 2 Plant the Potatoes

    A bucket of potatoes that have flowered

    Getting your certified seed potatoes ready is the first step toward a successful container grow. To do it right, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps. Buy certified seed potatoes and refrigerate until you are ready to start the planting process. You generally want to do this about a week before you’re ready to plant. Place 5 to 10 seed potatoes in an open paper bag and place in a cool room out of direct sunlight. When the potatoes have sprouted, lay them in the soil about 6” apart, with the eyes pointing up. Cover the potatoes with 6” deep layer of potting soil and compost. Be sure to water and keep soil moist at all times.

    The best time to plant potatoes is in the early spring, as long as the soil temperature permits. Remember that potatoes cannot root in frozen soil or soil that is below 7 degrees Celsius.

  3. Step 3 Keep it Healthy

    A gardener checking on the growth of their potato garden

    Growing potatoes in your garden or container is relatively easy, but you do need to take a few basic actions to help your crop thrive. First, check for weeds often and remove any you find. If not taken care of, weeds can overrun your potatoes and choke their roots. Keep the plants hydrated by providing them one to two inches of water or rain each week. Stop watering the plants when the leaves yellow and die to help cure the potatoes for harvest. If the potatoes are growing too slowly for your liking, feel free to fertilize them.

  4. Step 4 Harvest

    Hands holding freshly harvested potatoes with some dirt still on them

    Potatoes are generally harvested and eaten as either new or mature. New potatoes are thin-skinned and small, while mature potatoes, which are older by several weeks, are larger and have slightly thicker skins. In 6 to 10 weeks, when the top-most layer of plants begins to flower, new potatoes can be harvested. Carefully dig down with your hands to pick new potatoes. If you choose to wait, harvest when all foliage dies (about 16 weeks after planting). Simply dump the barrel out on a tarp and pluck out your potatoes. Spread the remaining soil over other vegetable beds.

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