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How to plant potatoes and when to do it

Knowing how to grow potatoes correctly will help you get the biggest and best tubers.Potatoes are easy to grow, just like learning How to grow tomatoes from seed?, but following this guide will make a difference. Your potatoes will be large, delicious and ready to cook in no time.

If you’re new to growing potatoes, you’re in luck. Here, we show you exactly what you need to do to make your potatoes thrive. We’ll discuss when is the best time to plant them and how to till your land ahead of time. This guide will answer all your questions and provide helpful tips and tricks that even the most experienced gardeners should know.

How to Grow Potatoes

what do you need

seed potato

kitchen knife

fertilizer

Compost/Old Manure

hoe/shovel

A sort of. Choose a place – First, you need to decide where to grow potatoes. Choose a sunny area, preferably slightly acidic soil (PH 5.0 to 7.0). If you don’t meet these standards, don’t worry – potatoes are very hardy and can be grown almost anywhere.

2. Choose your seed potatoes: Buy seed potatoes for planting, not seed potatoes. Potatoes you buy from the supermarket won’t work because they’ve been treated with a germination inhibitor. You can find seed potatoes at your local farm store, but they are also widely available online, such as these from Simply Seed ($12.59, Amazon

A seed potato cut in half to dry with other seed potatoes in the background

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Cut your seed potatoes – You should cut seed potatoes 3-5 days before planting. This helps them retain moisture and better protects them from decay. Each large potato should be cut in half so that each portion is about the size of a golf ball. You want each piece to have a pair of “eyes” from which it will sprout. Don’t worry about cutting small seed potatoes that are already the size of golf balls.

4. Heal your seed potatoes— Now you need to “cure” the cut potatoes for 3-5 days. You can place them in the sun or in a warm room (about 70°F). Within a few days, you should notice thick calluses on the wound.

5. Prepare the ground— When your potatoes are firm, you can start using the soil. To remove weeds, use a hoe or shovel to dig a trench about 6 to 8 inches deep and about 3 inches wide at the bottom. If you need more than one row, keep about 3​​ feet between them. Treat the soil by mixing compost or rotted manure into the bottom of the trench.

Someone is planting potatoes in a ditch

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

6. Growing potatoes— Each potato should be planted cut side down, with the “eyes” facing up, 1 foot apart on each side. (Little potatoes can be spaced 9 inches apart.) Sprinkle with fertilizer, such as Burpee Bone Meal Fertilizer ($12.99, Amazon) between each potato seed, according to the package directions for the dose. Then start by covering with 3-4 inches of soil.

As the plants grow and sprout (up to about 8 inches (20 cm) tall), add another 3-4 inches of soil so that only the top leaves stick out of the soil. Then repeat when they grow another 20 cm, which can take a few weeks. At this point, your floor should be about 5 inches above the ground. This technique is called “hill climbing,” and the more you do it, the better the harvest, although you should stop when the plants are blooming.

7. Watering and waiting— As a general guide, potatoes need about an inch or two of water per week, but don’t overwater once they start to grow. Give them plenty of water in summer, especially when they start blooming. Stop watering once the leaves turn yellow and die; this will help preserve the potatoes for harvest.

Someone harvests potatoes with a shovel and collects them in buckets

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

8. Harvest your potatoes— This is best done on dry days. You can harvest new potatoes two weeks after the plants bloom, but keep in mind that they won’t heal and will need to be eaten within a few days, so you may only want to dig up one or two plants at a time. Ideally, you should wait 2-3 weeks after the leaves die before digging them up.

9. Store your potatoes— If you want your potatoes to last, let them harden in the ground for a few days after carefully digging them out. If it rains, take them to a shelter.

Once cured, your potatoes should be stored in a dry, cool, well-ventilated, dark (35-45°F) place. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them, it will shorten their lifespan. Cellars are ideal for long-term storage.

When should you plant potatoes?

Potatoes are best planted in early spring or when the soil is ready for cultivation. The soil temperature should be between 45º and 55ºF, which means that if a night frost hits your yard, protect your potatoes with a cover. You also don’t want the soil to be too wet, as this will cause the soil to rot. It’s best to wait 2-3 weeks before the last frost date to get a rough idea of ​​the situation. However, potatoes can be planted until June, so you’re not locked into those dates.

Dirty potatoes piled in a basket

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How long does it take for a potato to grow?

It really depends on the type of potatoes you are growing and how big you want to grow them. New potatoes take 60-90 days to grow, while full-size potatoes take about 120 days. You can tell when the leaves start to wilt that they are ready for harvest, and you can also notice a small patch of soil being pushed up at the base of the stem. Otherwise, if you’re not sure, you can also feel the size of potatoes on the ground.


For more planting tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guide to hydrangea pruning, orchid care, and 5 things to get your garden ready for spring.


Content

How to plant potatoes and when to do it

Knowing how to plant potatoes the right way can give you the biggest and best tubers possible. Potatoes are pretty straightforward to grow, much like learning how to grow tomatoes from seeds, but following this guide will make a difference. Your potatoes will be full-sized and flavorsome, ripe for cooking in no time. 
If you’re a novice when it comes to growing potatoes, you’re in luck. Here, we will take you through exactly what you need to do to get your potatoes thriving. We will cover when best to plant them as well as how to cultivate your land beforehand. This guide will answer any questions you might have and will provide useful tips and tricks, which even the most seasoned gardeners should know about. 
How to plant potatoes  
What you’ll need
Seed potatoes
Paring knife
Fertilizer
Compost/aged manure
Hoe/shovel
1. Choose a spot — First, you need to decide where you want to plant your potatoes. Pick an area which gets plenty of sun, ideally with slightly acidic soil (PH of 5.0 to 7.0). Don’t worry if you can’t quite meet these standards — potatoes are pretty hardy and will grow mostly anywhere.  
2. Pick out your seed potatoes — Make sure you buy seed potatoes for planting, not potato seeds. Any potatoes you pick up from a grocery store won’t work as they will have been treated with a sprout-retardant. You can find seed potatoes at local farm shops, but they’re widely available online too, such as these seed potatoes from Simply Seed ($12.59, Amazon).   

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
3. Cut your seed potatoes — You need to cut your seed potatoes 3-5 days ahead of planting them. This will help them retain moisture and better protect them from rotting as well. Any large potatoes should be cut in half so each segment is about the size of a golf ball. You want each piece to have a couple of ‘eyes’ which is where it will sprout from. Don’t worry about cutting any smaller seed potatoes which are already the size of a golf ball.
4. Cure your seed potatoes — Now, you need to leave your cut potatoes out to ‘cure’ for 3-5 days. You can lay them out in the sun, or just keep them in a warm space (roughly 70°F). You should notice a thick callous forming over the cuts within a couple of days.    
5. Prep the ground — While your potatoes are curing, you can get to work on the ground. Remove any weeds and, using a hoe or shovel, dig a trench roughly 6-8 inches deep, with the base about 3 inches wide. If you need more than one row, keep about 3 feet between them. Cultivate the soil by mixing in compost or rotted manure at the base of the trench.  

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
6. Plant your potatoes — Each potato should be planted cut-side down with the ‘eyes’ up, and spaced 12 inches apart on every side. (Baby potatoes can be spaced every 9 inches.) Sprinkle fertilizer, such as Burpee Bone Meal Fertilizer ($12.99, Amazon) between each potato seed, following pack instructions for dosage. Then cover with 3-4 inches of soil to start. 
As the plants grow and sprout (reaching roughly 8 inches in height), you will need to add another 3-4 inches of soil on top, so only the top leaves are poking out of the ground. Then repeat again when they grow another 8 inches, which can take several weeks. By this point, your soil should be about 5 inches above ground level. This technique is known as ‘hilling’ and the more you do it, the better the harvest will be, although you should stop when the plants flower. 
7. Water and wait — Potatoes need about one to two inches of water a week for general guidance, but don’t overwater them as they first start to grow. Give them plenty of water through the summer, especially when they start to flower. Once the leaves turn yellow and die back, stop watering — this will help preserve the potatoes for harvest.  

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
8. Harvest your potatoes — This is best done on a dry day. You can harvest new potatoes two weeks after the plant has finished flowering, but bear in mind these won’t cure and will need to be eaten within a few days, so you may only want to dig up one or two plants at a time. Ideally, you should wait for 2-3 weeks after the foliage dies back to dig them out. 
9. Store your potatoes — If you want your potatoes to last, you should first let them cure for a few days on the top of the soil after carefully digging them up. If it rains, move them to shelter. 
Once cured, you should store your potatoes somewhere dry, cool, well-ventilated and dark (35-45°F). Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them, as this will shorten the lifespan. For long-term storage, a root cellar is ideal.
When should you plant potatoes?
Potatoes are best planted in early spring or as soon as the soil can be worked. The soil should be between 45º to 55ºF, which means you will need to protect your potatoes with a cover if a late frost hits your yard. You don’t want the soil to be overly wet either as this can rot the potatoes. It’s best to wait 2-3 weeks prior to the last frost date for general guidance. However, potatoes can be planted as late as June, so you’re not tied to these dates.  

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
How long does it take potatoes to grow?
This really depends on the type of potato you’re growing and the size you want to grow them to. New potatoes need between 60-90 days to grow, whereas full-size potatoes require about 120 days. You can tell they’re ready to harvest because the leaves start to die back and you might also notice a small mound of soil pushed up at the base of the stem. Failing that, you can also feel for the size of the potato in the soil if you’re unsure. 
For more planting tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our guides on how to prune hydrangeas, how to care for an orchid, and 5 things to get your garden ready for spring. 

#plant #potatoes

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