Potatoes are a very easy crop to grow! Even if you’ve never grown anything before it is very easy to have a successful potato harvest! Here are some of our best tips for success. On average seed potatoes yield 10-1 meaning if you plant 1 pound of seed potatoes you should harvest 10 pounds of potatoes.
Use Certified Seed Potatoes
While many garden vegetables are started from seeds, potatoes are grown from planting potatoes. Our garden center sells certified seed potatoes – which look just like potatoes from the grocery store, but are grown specifically to be used as a seed to grow a new crop. Grocery store potatoes are often treated with a sprout inhibitor to help them last longer in storage, however this makes them not very suitable for growing a new crop. For a good yield it is important to plant certified seed potatoes.
Cut Up Your Seed Potatoes
To make the most out of your dollar you can cut up your seed potatoes before planting. Potatoes can be cut to be approximately the size of a golf ball, but make sure that each piece of the potato contains at least one eye to grow a sprout. It is best to cut them at least one day before planting so they can callous over prior to going in the ground.
Dig a Trench/Hole
Potatoes grow best in a full sun location. Once your location is set, dig a hole or trench in your garden approximately 6 inches deep and put your potato in the ground. When planting them in rows, space them out to approximately every 12”. If you are growing your potatoes in containers*, put 3-4 inches of soil in the bottom of your container and put your seed potatoes on top of the soil. With either method you will then cover the seed potato with about 4 inches of good quality soil. If you want you can also add in some compost or fertilizer, but do not use fresh uncomposted manure. Do not water your potatoes until they start to break through the ground, as this will help prevent disease in the soil. There is enough moisture and nutrients in the seed potato to feed the new baby plant that will emerge.
Hill Your Potatoes
Once your plants are through the soil try to keep them watered evenly if possible. Mother Nature sometimes doesn’t help us much with this task, but do the best you can. When the plants are 8-12” tall bury all but the top few leaves with hills of dirt. In a traditional garden you will almost end up with a berm of soil with potato plants growing out of it. If you are using containers, fill them with soil gradually until each container is full. Always leave a few leaves showing each time as you fill them with soil.
Each seed potato produces only one crop per year. When you harvest, depends a bit on what you want to do with your potatoes. Once your potatoes have blossomed there will be tiny baby potatoes in the soil - these are absolutely delicious in mid-summer, and although you don’t get a ton of them on each plant their taste can’t be beat. For a more bountiful harvest you will need to wait until the plants start to wither and die. At this point they are no longer growing the tubers under the ground and you can go ahead and harvest them. If you want to store them in your basement for the winter you are best to wait for a couple of weeks after the plants have died so that the skins will toughen up a bit. Storage potatoes should not be washed prior to being put away. If possible try to dig them when the ground is quite dry and they will be pretty clean for the most part and ready to store. If it happens to be particularly wet and you have no choice but to dig then, we recommend that you lay them out somewhere to dry a bit before putting them into your basement or storage location. Excessive moisture or mud on the potatoes can cause them to spoil. It is important to store them in a cool dark place with good ventilation that is always above freezing. Be mindful that exposure to light will cause them to turn green. Check your potatoes frequently and remove any that have started to rot or mold.
*Potatoes grow best in a fairly large container – root pouches (grow bags) are an awesome way to grow potatoes! The larger soil volume helps to keep enough moisture and also allows more room for potatoes to grow.
This year Dave had bit of fun experimenting with container gardening. If you want to look us up on TikTok we've had over 150,000 views of this fun little video!