The potato is a prolific root vegetable that is well-suited to the home garden. They require little care once established and they also grow in a most soils if it is properly fertile and well-drained. Potatoes are rarely grown from seed, instead they a planted from small seed potatoes that sprout and grow into a full plant. Each plant produces many potato tubers under the soil surface which you then harvest in late summer. Seed potatoes are available at garden centers and from seed suppliers.
Prepare a garden bed in full-sun in late spring. Choose a bed that is well-drained and not prone to standing water after irrigating or rain. Loosen the soil to a 12 inch depth with a spade or power tiller.
Spread a 2-inch layer of compost on top the bed to aid drainage and add nutrients. Spread 7 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer over each 100-foot row of potato bed. Work the compost and fertilizer into the soil.
Cut apart the seed potatoes with a sharp knife, leaving one to two growing eyes or sprouts on each piece. Cut the pieces so they are about 2 inches in size. Spread them out with the cut sides facing up for one day so the cuts begin to heal over. This helps guard them against rotting in the soil.
Sow each seed piece to a 4-inch depth, spacing the pieces 6 to 8 inches apart in a row. Plant so the eyes face upward. Space the rows three feet apart.
Water the bed once a week, providing approximately 1 inch of water at each irrigation. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Hill soil over the potato plants once the sprouts begin appearing on the garden bed. Pull 2 to 3 inches of soil from between the row, using a hoe, to cover the top of each plant. Continue to do this as the plants grow until the hill is built up to 6 to 8 inches tall.
Things You Will Need
- Power tiller
- Perform a soil test, available at your county extension office, prior to planting in order to determine the exact amount of fertilizer needed for your garden.
- Harvest potatoes once the leaves begin to die back. Dig up the potatoes with a spading fork, being careful not to spear the potatoes.
- Weed potato beds often, as weeds can easily choke out potato plants. Lay a 2-inch layer of mulch over the bed to further discourage weed growth.
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