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Potatoes have been a main staple food in countless cultures around the globe, and continue to be today. That’s why learning how to grow potatoes makes sense, whether you’re an expert or have never gardened in your life if you enjoy baked potatoes, french fries, or homemade potato salad!
Read on below and learn everything you need to know about growing these yummy tubers!
About Growing Potatoes
Native to the Americas, these starchy tubers that grow from the potato plant are well known around the world in many shapes and forms. Perhaps McDonald’s has done more than any company to further expose people to baked potatoes and potato byproducts like hashbrowns and french fries.
Technically speaking, potatoes are the world’s fourth-largest crop, right behind corn. It’s not surprising though, because potatoes have been grown for approximately 10,000 years. Further, we know about 5,000 species exist.
Wild potatoes still grow all over the Americas today, from South America to Canada and everywhere between. There are over 200 species that we currently are aware of.
Most gardeners grow potatoes in the spring/summer or fall/early winter, due to their preferred temperature range being roughly 50°F. On the chart below, we touch on all the basic info you need to know before you start growing and caring for these dirty little tubers.
Quick Potato Growing Information
|How much light is needed:||6 hours or more|
|How much water is needed:||1 to 2 inches per week|
|Is it best to start with seeds or plants:||Plants and sprouts|
|The best month to plant:||Late Feb to Early April|
|Preferred climate/temperature:||45°F to 55°F|
|Is indoor or outdoor growing better:||Outdoor|
|Do indoor plants need to be pollinated:||No|
|Level of difficulty to grow:||Easy to medium|
|Plant height:||36 to 40 inches|
|Time from planting to harvest:||80 to 100 days|
Tips for Growing Potatoes
1. Use Potatoes from the Grocery Store
Potatoes are one of the most popular garden variety vegetable plants that can be grown from scraps. In fact, they can be grown from an entire bag of potatoes from the grocery store.
All you need to do is place the potatoes you want to plant in a cool dark place, like a kitchen cabinet, or basement, for a few weeks. Pretty soon sprouts will form, also known as “eyes”.
Once eyes are poking out of your store-bought potatoes, they are ready for planting.
2. Prepare the Soil for Your Potato Crop
Before you plop those taters in the dirt, make sure it is worth planting them in.
You may need to amend the dirt, add fertilizer to it, or simply till it up a bit before planting.
Using a pH tester is a good idea. The ideal pH for potatoes growing in soil is 6 to 6.5.
3. Plant at the Right Time for an Optimal Yield
If you want to get the most out of your potato crop, the best approach is planting early.
Most experts claim planting a couple of weeks before the last hard frost is the best bet for these guys.
That means the best time of the year is anywhere between Feb, March, and even April or early May, depending on where you are.
4. Space Rows 3ft Apart
Whenever you get around to it, make sure that you plant your potatoes deeply enough to establish plenty of roots, and mound the dirt over top of them as well.
Place your rows at least three feet apart from each other so they have plenty of room to grow and thrive.
If you plant your potatoes too close to each other, they’ll be forced to fight for growing space beneath the soil.
Potato Growing FAQs
Do Potatoes Grow Well in Shade?
Potatoes grow just fine in partial shade, so long as they receive roughly 6 or more hours of light throughout the day. That said, full shade is not ideal for potato plants at all. Read more about how much light potatoes need.
What’s the Best Way to Grow Potatoes?
The best way to grow potatoes depends on you. Many folks prefer growing potatoes in containers, as opposed to directly in the ground, so they can more easily harvest them and protect them from pests until they do so. Raised bed gardens are also popular choices for growing potatoes.
How Deep Should I Plant My Potatoes?
Potatoes should be planted in the ground around 5 to 10 inches deep, depending on which species you are cultivating. That said, the holes/trenches you plant them in should be loosely filled in, and only halfway. This loose soil allows them to grow more easily and propagate quicker.
Suggested Reading: How to Grow Carrots: Gardening Guide
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