The typical American eats 125 pounds of potatoes every year, according to the University of Florida, making it one of the nation's most popular vegetables. Grow dozens of potato varieties in your backyard garden, from sugary sweet potatoes to starchy white potatoes that have been the staple meal ingredient of many cultures. Planting seed potatoes is a common method of starting a backyard potato crop. Several management principles and planting tips can help you maximize your backyard potato harvest.
Choose a potato variety that has been bred to thrive in your specific region's climate and soil. There are more than 100 potato cultivars from which you can select, according to the University of Illinois. Contact your regional cooperative extension office (see Resources) for further information.
Sterilize all seed potatoes before planting them. This helps prevent the spread of crop-destroying diseases like black rot. Clemson University recommends making a homemade seed potato sterilizing solution by combining 2/3 cup of borax powder in a gallon of fresh water. Stir the solution thoroughly to dissolve the borax. Soak the seed potatoes in the solution for 10 minutes, then plant the potatoes immediately.
The ideal potato weighs a maximum of 2 ounces because it can be planted whole, which reduces the risk of bacteria and fungus diseases caused by cutting the potatoes, according to Cornell University. Cut seed potatoes weighing just over 2 ounces to 4 ounces into two pieces, each with at least one eye on it. Potatoes weighing 6 to 8 ounces should be cut into four pieces.
Wait to plant your seed potatoes until the soil temperature ranges between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Potatoes experience optimal growth and tuber development at this temperature, according to the University of Illinois.
Bury each seed potato 5 inches into the soil, according to the University of Florida. Each seed potato should be spaced apart by 6 inches. If you're growing more than one row of potatoes, space the rows apart by a minimum of 3 feet.