Things to know…..
* Types of potatoes: A seed potato is nothing more than an ordinary potato, with at least one “eye”. You can purchase seed potatoes from nurseries or catalogs. Since this is my first year, I choose to bought seed potatoes but I will keep a dozen or so from this years crop for the next year. When using a whole seed potato, you can plant whole or you can cut them into small pieces. If you choose to cut your seed potatoes into smaller pieces, divide them a day prior to planting. This allows the cuts to heal over slightly, which helps to prevent soil-borne diseases from infecting your potato crop. Always choose seed potatoes that are free from blemishes. I planted Yukon gold and red potatoes but there are so many more that you can plant such as Russian Banana Fingerlings, Rose Fingerlings and Russet.
* When to Plant: Plant in the Spring, some consider “Good Friday” as the day for planting but you don’t want your ground too icy. Potatoes do tolerate cool soil and a light frost, but not much growth will take place until the soil warms up a bit. I planted mine in late April. When I planted my potatoes I thought they were not going to pop up from the ground, depending on the warmth of the soil it can take 3 to 4 weeks before they emerge.
My Potato Rows
*Hilling: When the plants have grown about a foot tall, mound six to eight inches of dirt around each plant, this is called hilling. When doing this your potatoes will grown deeper under the soil to keep them away from sunlight because the sun will turn the potatoes green. Green potatoes is something you don’t want.
* Watering: Make sure you water your potato plants constantly and evenly. The best way to water the plants is through a drip system. This technique not only works for your potatoes but other plants as well. The leaves don’t need watering just the roots. when you use a watering can or sprinkler sometimes the tops of the plants gets more water than the roots and damages the plants.
* Nasty Bugs: Did you know that there was a potato beetle out there just waiting to get into our plants? The larvae and adult beetles will feed on the potato leaves, and a heavy infestation can damage the foliage enough to reduce your harvest considerably. Watch for the beetle’s yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves and crush the clusters whenever you see them. Larvae are a deep orange color with a row of black spots on both sides, while the adults are a paler orange with black stripes on the body and black spots on the head. The larvae and adults can be picked off the leaves and crushed if there are only a few. An infestation can also be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Bt is an organic control that is very safe to use. Look for Bt that is specifically for potato beetles. It is sold in many garden catalogs and garden centers. After I read about these beetles, I noticed that I have these not on my potato plants but my butterfly bush. So I guess I will be heading to my nearest garden center to get rid of those nasty bugs.
Beautiful Blooms and they smell great!
* Blooming Plants: Your potato plants will get blooms, at this point you can begin to harvest small “new” potatoes. Depending on the variety of potatoes you’re growing, about eight weeks after planting. In the fall, after all the leaves have dried out and the plant looks as if it has died you can dig the entire crop. Before storing them in a cool, dry and dark place, make sure the outer part of the potato has dried a bit. Spread them out in a dry spot out of direct sun, such as a garage or shed, for a day or two before putting them in storage.
I am anxious to put all this good information to use when I start to harvest my potatoes. I’d love for you to share with me your potato growing tips and stories so it helps others to become great gardeners.