Planting and Growing Potatoes
Posted January 03, 2018
While you can use any untreated potato, we have always had the best success with certified organic seed potatoes. Before you plant, cut your seed potatoes into egg-sized chunks, with each chunk having at least on eye (sprout). Place the fresh-cut tuber in a dry, shady spot for a 1-2 days to allow the to form a calluses. This is known as chitting. Chitting will help prevent wireworm issues and other diseases.
Soil should be well drained and reasonably fertile with a slightly acid pH. Work in plenty of compost at least 12" deep. In each planting hole, whatever your method, add a good organic fertilizer like Acid Mix 4-3-6 (especially good for alkaline soils) or Biofish 7-7-2.
Planting can be done in rows, hills and mounding. In row gardens, plant seed potatoes 4 inches deep and 12-18 inches apart. If you prefer to plant in hills, mound soil as you would for squash, and plant three or four seed potatoes in each hill. Our choice is growing in our raised beds, mounding up as the plant grows. Plant each seed potato 2" deep 12" apart and as the plant grows, mounding with compost or mulch, letting a few inches of plant poke through. Repeat until your mound is 12 to 18".
When plants flower, you can harvest a few new potatoes from around the edge of each plant. New potatoes are not just small potatoes, they are inmates spuds whose sugar has not yet converted to starch, as it will in fully developed tubers. That is why new potatoes are deliciously sweet and why they are best when consumed immediately after harvest.
After the tops of the plants die down, push a potato fork into the soil around the perimeter of each plant. Rock it back and forth to break up small roots connecting the potatoes, then leave the potato patch alone for a week to give the skins a chance to harden up. This way the spud will not bruise when you dig them up and they will keep longer.
Flea beetles can be a problem. Early morning spays of insecticidal soap will control adult flea beetles. You can avoid most diseases problems by planting only certified seed potatoes.
Planting times will depend on your area and climate. We plant mid-March and again for succession planting Mid-May. Check with your local extension service for planting times in your area.