Potatoes are a common dish all over the world and following a request by one of our readers, we’ve put together a detailed step by step process on how to grow potatoes. It is a very economical farm crop to grow either for subsistence or commercial use. To ensure great yield there are a few steps we have highlighted below.
Before we go through the steps to follow to grow potatoes, let’s me first explain when to plan and what you should have before planting.
When to plant Potatoes
Studies have shown that potatoes do well in sunny environments and prefer a temperature of about 45-50 degrees F. it is due to this that you should grow your potatoes in early spring. Even as you grow your potatoes in early spring you should be careful to ensure that you only do this after the last frost. You should also ensure that your soil is well drained and receives adequate sunlight.
What to plant: Which Type of Potatoes Should I Grow
Various farmers have seen the benefits of planting seed potatoes instead of potato flowers. Seed potatoes are characterized as cut-up pieces of potatoes. You can find the seed potatoes from local or online nurseries. You should ensure that the seed potatoes you buy are certified and disease-free to ensure a smooth running of operations.
80 days mid season
Late-blight, Black leg, Potato virus A and Y
Salads, curries, stews, soups
Yellow flesh with raspberry red eyes
|Mashed, roasted ,baked, fried|
Baking, mashing, roasting
Rio grande russet
Rust brown skin
Salads ,fries , slicing
Bicolor consisting of purple and white
Baking, mashing, roasting
Has a sweet flavor comprised of a mixture of chestnuts, hazelnuts and almonds
Wine dark skins and succulent purple flesh
Swedish peanut fingerling
Resistant to scab
Roasted, pan-fried, salads
Resistant to scab
How to prepare seed potatoes for planting
When buying potatoes to plant you should consider buying potatoes that have already sprouted. If you don’t manage to buy sprouted ones you can put them in moderate light and a temperature of 60-70 degrees F so as to stimulate sprouting. Once they have sprouted take a sharp knife and cut them into smaller sizes. If your potatoes are the size of a golf ball you should plant them whole. If your potatoes are bigger than a golf ball you should cut around 2-3 eyes and ensure that the cut pieces are at least 2 inches square. Let the cut pieces dry for 1-2 days. During this time they form a thick callus that prevents rotting and resists diseases.
How to plant potatoes with the hilling method
Hilling has proved to be efficient to most farmers. You should therefore apply it in planting your potatoes. Its steps are;
- Ensure that the planting hole is 3-4 inches deep
- Place the seed potato with the sprout facing up. You should press firmly to ensure contact with soil
- Cover the hole with about 2 inches of compost or soil
- When the stem has grown about 6 inches taller cover half of it with soil
- Add more soil until the hill is about 12 inches tall
- Add 2-4 inches of organic mulch on top of the hill
You should make sure your soil has enough water as drought stress reduces yield. You should therefore water your plants until you see the stems shooting up above the hill. You should also avoid high nitrogen foods as they will produce more foliage and few tubers. Make sure that your potatoes are always covered with soil as exposure to sun will make them develop green patches .If they form, cut them off and then the rest of the potato will be edible.
How to plant potatoes in a box or bag
Some of the farmers are unable to carry out the hilling method of planting potatoes due to issues like the size of land. Others want to plant potatoes for subsistence use like in their patios. It is due to such reasons that you might resort to planting your potatoes in a bag or box. The standard procedure is simple and applicable to all who are interested;
- You need to have a box or growing bag at least 18 inches deep.
- Locate a good spot with adequate sunlight.
- Most farmers prefer to put compost at the bottom and add more over time
- You can also opt to mix with your soil with fertilizer then put it in growing bag
- Either way is okay as the key thing is to fill your grow bag with soil
- Prepare your seed potatoes for planting. If they are bigger than a golf cut around the eyes
- Plant your potatoes about 4-6 inches deep
- Ensure to regularly water the potatoes if you do not receive enough rainfall
- At the end of the season cut the box or tear the bag to obtain your harvest
The method has proven to be quite easy and effective. It also requires less effort as compared to hilling.
You might find that your land is too small or you may not be willing to carry out large scale production of potatoes. That should not be a worry you can easily grow potatoes in a bucket and harvest the same way as other farmers. It is quite easy and does not require a lot of effort. There are a few steps you need to follow for you to successfully grow your potatoes in a bucket;
- You need to obtain a sizable bucket preferably 5 gallons
- Once you obtain the bucket drill holes at the bottom so as to drain the soil as potatoes require good drainage
- Measure fill lines on your bucket. Most common fill lines are 4 and 10 inches.
- Obtain good soil fill the bucket to the 4 inches mark
- Place your seed potatoes preferably those that have sprouted and add more soil
- Regularly water your potatoes
- Once the potatoes have bloomed the first harvest is ready
The method has proven to be very effective especially to those with very little land
Eyes are tiny indents on a potato. An eye gives rise to a sprout. It is therefore wise to plant potatoes from eyes instead of tubers as tubers are clones of the mother plant and thus the seeds that grow are not true. Planting eyes is quite easy if follow a few steps;
- First you have to choose disease free seed potatoes. Ensure that each potato has 1-3 undamaged eyes
- It is advisable to chit so as to break dormancy thus encouraging sprouting
- Cut the potatoes bigger than a golf ball around the eyes
- Allow the cut pieces to grow until the sprout is 1 inch long
- Plant the sprouts about 4-6 inches deep
- Once the plant grows to about 12 inches cover the remaining 6-8 inches so as to protect the potatoes from drought and heat
- Ensure you potatoes are well-watered to ensure a good harvest