Growing and eating fresh potatoes from your garden is a rewarding experience, with no comparison to the spuds you buy at the grocery store. Potatoes require only simple maintenance, can be grown in bulk and store easily. First cultivated by the Incas in 200 B.C., the first potatoes came to North American in the early 1600's and are one of the largest vegetable crops in the world today, according to The Garden Helper. There are some key things to remember when planting potatoes: they need full sun and loose well-drained soil that is slightly acid (having a pH of 5.8 to 6.5). Even though the crop will grow in less desirable soils, there are some tips to remember that will ensure your potato harvest is the best it can be.
Use Certified Potato Seeds
Potato seeds in packets, healthy-looking grocery-store potatoes or spuds saved from previous years may not be the best growing option for your garden. Potatoes are susceptible to several serious diseases. It is important to have certified seeds to ensure they are disease free. Certified seed potatoes are available at most quality nurseries and garden centers, and there are usually several different varieties that produce spuds of different shapes, sizes, flavors and even colors.
Prepare The Seeds For Planting
Set a date to prepare your seed potatoes about two weeks before planting. Place the seeds where they will be exposed to warm temperatures (with full sunlight) between 60 and 70 degrees F. Lay them on a dry clean paper towel. This will help encourage them to sprout before planting.
Do not grow potatoes in the same part of the garden within a seven year period. This is because potatoes are susceptible to one or two major pests, which do not survive if they don't have access to the crop. Aim to develop the longest rotational system you can accommodate in your garden, so the planting sites are not near each other. This will help the soil settle back to normal before the next planting cycle, and get rid of any pests.
Wait until garden soil has warmed sufficiently and is not too wet, before planting your potatoes. If the soil temperature is below 45 degrees F and the ground is overly wet, the seed potatoes may rot before they have even begin to grow.