How to Plant Potatoes

Overview

Potatoes are a staple crop that is well suited to the home garden. Available in many varieties, the most common are available as seed potatoes at most garden centers and nurseries. More exotic varieties, some with purple or blue flesh, are available from seed catalogs. Potatoes are cool-season crops so planting is done two weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Store seed potatoes in the refrigerator until it is time to plant them so they don't dry out or begin sprouting prematurely.

Step 1

Prepare well-draining garden beds in full sun. Lay 3 inches of compost over the bed and till into the soil to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 2

Inspect seed potatoes and locate the visible eyes. Cut apart each seed potato with a sharp knife so that each piece has one to two eyes on it. Cut apart the seed potatoes the day before you plan to plant so the cut surfaces have a chance to dry.

Step 3

Sow each piece cut side down 5 inches beneath the soil surface. Space each planting 10 inches apart in rows that are 30 inches apart.

Step 4

Keep your soil bed moist at all times, applying approximately 1 inch of water per week to the bed. A single, deep watering is preferable to frequent, light watering.

Step 5

Hill the soil around the stems once the potato plant is 1 foot tall. Pull the soil from the area between the rows up around the stem on either side using a hoe. Mound the soil to just below the leaves. Repeat each week as the plant grows.

Step 6

Harvest potatoes in July for new potatoes or after the vines die in late summer for late varieties. Loosen hills with a spading fork, being cautious not to spear any potatoes. Finish uncovering the potatoes by hand once soil is loosened.

Tips and Warnings

  • Potatoes are prone to potato beetle infestations. Check for orange eggs on the bottom of the plant's leaves and treat with an insecticide if present. Soil temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the tubers to fail.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Seed potatoes
  • Knife
  • Hoe
  • Spading fork

References

  • University of Illinois Extension
  • University of Minnesota Extension
Keywords: planting potatoes, seed potato, growing potatoes

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.