How to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes can be purchased at any grocery store, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many good reasons to learn how to grow potatoes in your own garden. Grocery stores sell a limited selection of potatoes, but when you grow your own, the list of varieties you can choose from is much larger. Growing your own potatoes also ensures that you are getting the healthiest vegetables available because you can limit your garden’s exposure to pesticides. Probably the best reason to learn how to grow potatoes is the flavor. Once you have tasted a homegrown potato, it is hard to look at those sold in the produce aisle in the same way you once did.
Potatoes are one of the easier vegetables to grow. The actual potato is a tuber that forms under the ground, so it is important to prepare the soil before you plant. These vegetables prefer moveable soil, which gives them room to grow, so it is important to loosen the dirt at least 6 inches below the surface. This can be done with a tiller or a shovel. Once you have loosened up the soil you can add in compost or fertilizer.
Early spring is the time to plant your seed potatoes in your prepared soil. Simply dig a row of small holes about 6 inches deep and a foot apart. You can place a small seed potato in each hole. If your seed potatoes are large, you can cut them in half. Just make sure that there is an eye or two on each piece of potato that you plant. Gently fill in the holes with most of the dirt you dug and water your rows often enough to keep the soil moist without being muddy. Potatoes grow best in well-drained soil.
Once your potatoes have sprouted and their vines are about six inches long, it is time to mound up the soil covering most of the plant. The vine will continue to grow above ground and will eventually flower. It is important to keep the plant watered regularly during this time because this is when the potatoes are forming underneath the soil. If you see any potatoes popping up above the ground, make sure to cover them with dirt. When growing potatoes are exposed to the sun, they turn green and bitter.
Two months after the first vines appear, you should be able to harvest tender, new potatoes. Gently scratch through the mounded soil and take a few small potatoes from the vines underground. The remaining potatoes will continue to grow for another month. When the vine starts to die, you can carefully dig them up. Homegrown potatoes store much longer than their store-bought counterparts, so if you learn how to grow potatoes, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come.