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How to Care for Potatoes

By Greg Lindberg ; Updated September 21, 2017

After you have planted your potato crop, you need to properly take care of the potatoes until they are ready for harvest. Potatoes can be harvested up to two weeks after they have sprouted, but if you wait longer, the potatoes will grow even bigger. Caring for the crop is as easy as watering and preventing bugs and disease. A major part of caring for potatoes includes hilling, which is pulling up soil around the stems of the potatoes. You will then be able to harvest healthy potatoes a few weeks after full growth.

Rake the top one inch of soil when the soil becomes packed and crusty, so that the plant’s roots can get the appropriate amount of air and water (see References). You’ll want to make sure the soil is spread out and not clumped, which would disrupt the growth of the potatoes.

Hill or pull soil up near the stems of the potatoes twice during the growing season. After raking, you can hill using a hoe or tiller to make sure the soil is spread well enough to bury and kill any weeds near the potatoes. Make sure that you hill the potatoes at least one week after the potatoes sprout.

Water the potato plants two to three times a day using one-half cup of water. It’s important that you increase your watering of the potatoes six to 10 weeks after planting when the plants develop their tubers (see References).

Allow for small periods of dry weather, but make sure that you continue to apply enough water to moisten the soil eight to 10 inches deep into the ground. This is a deep watering process that is necessary to reach the shallow roots of the potatoes.

Spread at least a 1.5 pounds of 16-16-8 fertilizer around the planting area to keep the potatoes safe from nitrogen deficiency and other pests (see References). Also, use one-half cup of ammonium sulfate for each 10-foot row of potatoes (see References).


Things You Will Need

  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Tiller
  • 16-16-8 fertilizer