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Everything you should know before you grow a Potato Plant

Everything you should know before you grow a Potato Plant

One of the world's most adaptable vegetables is the potato. With about a dozen different ways to eat it, there is no reason for you not to want to grow your own.

Planting can be an intimidating experience for beginners; there are so many factors you should be aware of that it's easy to mess up. However, fret not! For you, here is a comprehensive manual covering every aspect of potato plants.

Continue reading if you want to learn how to plant, care for, and harvest your potatoes. From your garden to your table, we have all the steps covered.

Let us first begin with what varieties are the best for growing a healthy potato plant.

Best Potato Varieties to Grow

The first step to growing a potato plant is choosing the varieties you want to grow. The best varieties you may want to grow depend on what you want from your potatoes. For example, Yukon Gold and Red Gold are all-purpose varieties. Their medium starch and moisture make them good varieties for everything from French fries to mashed potatoes.

Some of the other sought-after varieties include:

  • Yukon Gold
  • Red Pontiac
  • Purple Majesty
  • Princess Laratte
  • Swedish Peanut Fingerling
  • Masquerade
  • Red Gold
  • Kennebec
  • Daisy Gold
  • Rio Grande

What is the best time to grow Potatoes?

Now that you know what variety you want to grow, you might have the next question regarding when you should plant the potatoes.

Whether you use seeds or tubers and where you live will determine what method is best to grow.

Since seed potatoes can rot in waterlogged soil, we recommend planting them two-three weeks before the last average frost date. Potatoes that usually succumb to heavy frosts can still grow new shoots; however, you should still avoid the frost as it produces a delayed or small harvest.

Typically, the later you plant your potatoes, the better. Plant them from March to May – those in the south can be planted in late fall or early winter. However, keep in mind that potatoes do not grow very well in extreme heat and may come out discolored.

Growing Potatoes – A step by Step Guide

So you know what variety to grow, and you also know the best time to grow it. The next burning question that you might have is how do you grow potatoes? Below is a step-by-step guide that will cover all the instructions you need to grow the best potatoes possible.

Step 1: Choosing how you want to grow your potato

Planting a potato plant is pretty basic. Firstly, decide how you want to start the process. You can either plant potato seeds or seed potatoes (tubers).

Using Potato seeds: If you choose to use potato seeds, you can do that indoors with eyes cut from potatoes six weeks before the last frost date. Sow your seeds into plug trays and then transplant them into the garden. From there, you have to follow the same care instructions as tubers.

Using seed potatoes (tubers): An easier way to grow potatoes is by using small pieces cut from a larger-sized potato. Further, to avoid infections or decay, make sure to leave at least two eyes on each piece and let them air dry overnight.

Step 2: Choosing the ideal soil conditions

For your next step, you need to choose the ideal soil conditions so that your potatoes can thrive. For that, your potatoes need loose and fertile soil. Make sure to add the compost or organic matter well in advance (during the fall) to give the soil time to absorb it. Make sure the soil is also slightly more acidic, as potatoes prefer a pH less than 7.

Avoid adding too much Nitrogen or fresh manure to the potatoes because doing so can cause them to develop scabs. Excess Nitrogen may be able to boost leaf growth, but that usually results in small-sized potatoes.

Please read our guide on the best soil for plants for more specific information.

Step 3: Sow your potatoes

Now that you have the best possible soil conditions for your plant, the time has come to sow them into the ground finally. Do this by digging eight-inch trenches in the ground. Place each cutting a foot apart and every row about three feet apart.

Finish sowing by backfilling the trench halfway through, and voila! You’re done. All that is left now is caring for the tubers as they grow into the plants you want.

How to care for your Potato Plants

Luckily potato plants are pretty low maintenance. However, you need to do a few routine tasks to ensure you can grow the best possible potatoes possible. To learn more about these common tasks, continue reading:

Water and Sunlight requirements

Potatoes roughly need an inch of water every week. It is important to stick to the same level, as anything more or less than an inch can cause your plant problems. Stunted growth will occur from insufficient water, whilst your plant is equally vulnerable to fungal growth due to overwatering.

Read our article on how to properly water plants if you want to learn more about watering.

Your potato plants need adequate sunlight to give you the best harvest possible. Potato Plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. You may want to use Grow Lights if you are growing potatoes in a greenhouse for a good result.

Hilling Your Potato Garden

The only thing stopping novice gardeners from growing potatoes is the hilling required when the plant reaches at least 8 inches in height. The task itself is not difficult, but it does take a little effort.

You will need to hill your plants several times while growing; you do this by mounding soil around the vines from both sides till the only ones left exposed are the top leaves.

You can hill using mulch as well. Mulch works well because it helps retain moisture while allowing your plant to breathe. It is also a great way to prevent pests and fungal diseases; more on this later.

To avoid the work of hilling, you can sow your seed potatoes deeper than you normally would (nine inches). Doing that might reduce the workload, but it also results in smaller potatoes.

Pest and Disease Prevention

Potatoes do not require pruning or training to grow properly. However, it would be best if you looked out for a disease that is a source of misery for both new and experienced gardeners – Potato Blight.

This fungal disease can destroy an entire crop, which is why we suggest frequent crop rotation. Take further precautions, such as planting the potato plant in a breezy spot with lots of space between each plant. Keep using fungicidal regularly and discard plants as soon as you see the first signs of an attack.

To prevent other pests, make use of neem oil so that you can rest easily.

Harvesting Potato Plants

As your plant starts flowering, it is safe to assume that your potatoes are ready to be harvested in a few weeks.

If you can not wait longer, you can dig into the soil to find some thin-skinned potatoes. However, these potatoes will be small and won’t be able to be stored for too long.

To get the best possible harvest, wait a few days till the veins lose their color and die back. That is a sign that your potatoes have matured and are ready to be harvested.

Dig into the soil and carefully harvest the potatoes out so that you do not damage the skin.

Storing Potatoes

To ensure that potatoes last a long time, some gardeners cut down the vines a few weeks before harvest so that their skin can harden, increasing their storage life.

Ensure that you let them sit for a few hours to dry so that they can be stored properly.

The Bottom Line of Growing Potatoes

Now that you know everything about growing potatoes, it is time to start. GroIndoor.com has got everything you will need for growing potatoes and protecting them.

From grow lights to mulch, we have got your back! Visit our website today to get planting.

Aug 7th 2022