The potato plant is a fun plant to grow. As a home gardener, you must keep in mind that potatoes do better in a cool weather.
Although there different potato varieties for different climates, it is best to plant potatoes in early spring.
Ensuring that you get those small potato seeds into the ground two to three weeks before your last frost date will give you a happy harvest.
Areas that experience the tropical climate are advised to plant potatoes when summer is just about ending or in early spring.
If potatoes are planted in summer the humidity that accompanies summer will hinder the successful growth of the potatoes.
Figuring when to plant potatoes in places with dry climates such as the desert where you have a full sun blast on the soil and plants can be quite hard. It’s even worse if you are a lover of potatoes who is new in a dry climate zone.
However, you shouldn’t be stressed out trying to figure this out. In most places potatoes are being planted around February or March but in an area with dry climate, June is the best month to start. If planted too early, the potatoes might shrivel up before harvest time.
In regions with temperate climate, the potato plant is best planted from late winter through to early summer. Potatoes planted during the time when the temperature is the hottest do not get to the harvest stage.
Regions in the continental climate zone such as Central Asia grow potatoes from late winter to early summer. Their increase in the success rate so far in potato cultivation is because they ensure to grow potato varieties that can adapt to the stressful climatic conditions the region offers.
It is still possible to grow potatoes in extremely cold regions that experience what is known as the polar climate. Potato growing is best embarked on in late May or early June when the season for greenery surfaces.
Choosing Your Potato Seeds
In order to have a successful growing season and happy harvest, a lot of factors are to be considered when choosing your potato seeds. These factors include and may not be limited to;
- Climatic conditions
- Growing time
- Ease of preservation
- Resistance to disease
- Culinary uses
While choosing potato seeds, always ensure to go with the variety that adapts easily to the climatic conditions where you intend to grow your potatoes.
How long do the potatoes take to grow? You must choose potatoes whose growing time matches with the growing season your climate supports for potatoes.
Yield: Ensure to choose potato species with a promising harvest.
Ease of preservation
Do not go for potato seeds that easily rot if you hope to keep them over the winter season.
Resistance to disease
Ensure to choose potato seeds that are particularly resistant to blight. This will make for a good yield.
Do not choose potato varieties that do not maintain their shape after cooking if you hope to use your potatoes for foods like French fries, salads, etc.
How To Grow Potatoes
Growing potatoes come in handy a lot of times in the kitchen because just as carrots potatoes are another species of essential vegetables used to spice up your dishes.
Potatoes are not just cheap and easy to cook they’re also easy to grow. The first step you must take to start growing potatoes is to choose what varieties to grow.
Yeah, you heard right; starting your own potato garden will involve making that not-so-hard decision of which varieties to grow.
Here are some varieties of potatoes you can choose from.
5 Potato varieties you can choose from
You might be surprised to find out that there are over 4000 species of native potatoes and 180 species of wild potatoes. But you don’t have to know all of them to grow potatoes.
You just need a minimal number of potato varieties you can choose from here 5 of them.
These have white flesh and red skin hence the name. Red potatoes are creamy, smooth, and sweet flavored.
Love roasted red potatoes will leave you craving for more. They do not get smashed up when cooked and so can be used in salads, students, and casseroles.
These have different sizes and shapes. White potatoes have a thin white or tan skin and a white flesh.
They are creamy with low sugar content. White potatoes can be used for salads on French fries as they do not get matched up when cooked.
These have brown skin with netted patterns. Their flesh is either white or pale yellow and they have a mild earthy flavor.
They are best baked or fried. However, they are most suitable when mashed.
As the name suggests, these are small potatoes with skin and flesh colored up like the russet potatoes.
Petite potatoes are best when they are fully ripe and that also known as marble potatoes. These potatoes are best for salads and side dishes.
This variety of potatoes is the most popular ones you can find. They have yellow, golden or tan skin with a light yellow or bright golden flesh.
Yellow potatoes are buttery sweet and have medium sugar content. They are best roasted/grilled, boiled or mashed.
From the varieties listed above you, can easily choose which potatoes suits your kitchen let’s look at potatoes according to their growing duration and as it suits your climate.
How long do potatoes take to grow?
These potatoes as their name suggest reach maturity early. They mature in 75 to 90 days after planting.
If you are a potato home gardener who lives in the cool regions of the world, early potatoes are your best bet.
This variety of potatoes matures in 95 to 110 days.
Late season Potatoes
These reach maturity in 120 to 135 days and so are suitable for gardeners who wish to store their potatoes through the winter season.
Growing your potatoes
You can either grow potatoes from true seeds or seed potatoes. Here’s how to grow potatoes from true seeds.
Things you will need:
- Potato seeds
- Seeding trays/pots
- Soilless growing medium
How to grow true potato seeds
- Plant the seeds in the seeding tray and cover them up with about 1/16 inch of your soilless medium.
- Leave the trays in a warm room of temperature 60 -70°F.
- Constantly moisten the growing medium ensuring that you don’t soak it with water.
- Observe the seeds as they germinate in 15days.
- Transplant the seedlings when it’s first four leaves have appeared into individual pots or your garden.
How to plant potato seeds
Taking extra care that you plant potato seeds at the right time is very important.
Remember, the best reward you can have as a potato home gardener is a bountiful harvest of fresh potatoes. However, before the harvest comes to the planting.
Below are steps to planting potato seeds in your garden.
Steps to planting potato seeds
Planting potato seeds do not require indoor planting. However if the weather in your area gets too cold or too warm fast, then you can pre-sprout your potato seeds
- Pre-sprouting helps the potatoes to be ready for harvest sooner than usual.
- Prepare the rows, hills, raised beds or growing bags/containers for planting your potato seeds.
- Place potato seeds 12 inches apart and 2-4 inches deep in a soil with a temperature of about 45°F.
- Ensure to cut your potato seeds into pieces if they are too large. This will enable you to grow 2-4 plants from one potato seed.
- If you are planting your potato seeds in rows, ensure to plant at least 2ft apart.
- Water the soil in which the potato seeds are down thoroughly and ensure that the moisture in the soil is maintained until the sprouts shoot out of the soil.
- Potatoes are easy to grow and do better in a cool weather therefore ensure that the soil temperatures do not shoot above normal by constantly monitoring the soil temperature.
How to water potatoes
To ensure that your potatoes grow healthily they must start out right. This means that the soil in which they are planted should be watered if it is dry in preparation for the planting process.
Once planted care must be taken to ensure that your potato has just the right amount of moisture needed to grow. The following steps will teach you the appropriate way to water your potatoes.
- Wait for about 2 weeks for potatoes to sprout from the soil before watering again this should be as long as the soil doesn’t dry out from planting time until two weeks.
- As much as potatoes need water, you must ensure not to waterlog the soil as it will lead to the death of the plant or an unhealthy harvest.
- After watering, focus not on applying too much water but on making sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
- Observe how much water your potatoes need as they go through the growing season.
- Once the soil moves from being wet to moist after each watering, water again and allow the potatoes to drink some of the water; check the soil 2-3 days later.
- Potatoes use up 1-2 inches of water per week. Therefore do not wait until the soil is dry to irrigate or water the soil again.
- Try as much as you can to ensure that the potatoes are watered evenly in order to achieve a bountiful harvest of tubers that are of uniform shape.
- Stop watering your potatoes 2 weeks before harvest or 90 to 120 days after which the vines have turned yellow and died off. This will help to cure your potatoes for harvest.
If you read through the information on growing potatoes above then you know the first thing about planting potatoes.
You can now start that potato garden you have always wanted. Happy planting!