Plant potatoes in your home garden and grow one of the most popular vegetables eaten today. Each American eats about 30 pounds of potatoes a year.
To begin growing potatoes, buy certified seed potatoes at nurseries or garden centers. The ones in supermarkets have usually been treated with growth retardants.
Ten to 14 days before planting, place seed potatoes in a warm area so they begin sprouting. Then, a day or two before planting, use a sharp knife to cut the sprouts, or eyes, into pieces. Each piece should contain 2 or 3 eyes. The bigger the piece, the more food the young potato plant will have to start growing.
About a week or two before the last frost date in your area you can plant the potatoes. Select a site that receives full sun.
Dig up the soil so that it’s loose and drains moisture well. Make rows about two and a half to three feet apart. Plant the potato pieces every 15 inches with the cut side down.
Potatoes are susceptible to frost so if they should be growing when frost conditions are imminent cover then with straw or a blanket or other light covering.
As the plants grow, mound additional soil around the plants every week or two. Continue to add soil or mulch or black plastic around the plants throughout the growing season. The potatoes should not be exposed to sunlight or they will obtain a green coloring which is toxic.
Water well throughout the summer. The most critical time is when the plants are flowering and for a short time afterward as that is the time when they are producing the young potatoes. Water in the morning so that the plants dry before nightfall. Potatoes are very susceptible to fungal diseases.
Fertilize every two to four weeks with a good root crop fertilizer.
Potatoes don’t have many pests but the most common one is the potato beetle which can be controlled with vigilance.
When foliage turns yellow and dies back, discontinue watering. The young potatoes will now mature. Harvest follows in about two weeks. But harvesting can occur at any stage of growth for small baby potatoes.
Article By Marilyn Pokorney. For more information on natural potato fertilizer and potato beetle control visit: http://www.apluswriting.net/garden/potatotips.htm