One of the easiest vegetables to grow and harvest is the potato. There are hundreds of varieties of potatoes available, coming in a number of colors and flavors, but no matter what variety you plan to grow, planting seed potatoes is a simple process. Start with certified seed potatoes which are free of insect problems and disease and, unlike grocery store potatoes, haven’t been treated with chemicals that stop growth.
Set out your seed potatoes on a sheet of newspaper or a cardboard egg carton three weeks before the frost-free date for your area. Place the newspaper or egg carton in a sunny room, but out of direct sunlight to sprout.
Dig the soil in your garden area with the shovel to loosen it 8 to 10 inches deep. Using the hoe, form a trench 4 inches deep for each row of potatoes you want to grow, spacing the rows 30 inches apart.
Add fertilizer to each side of your trenches, according to the manufacturer’s instructions and mix it in well. Compost could also be used to add nutrients to the soil if fertilizer isn’t available or preferred.
Look over your seed potatoes after one week to make sure each potato has two to three “eyes” or buds sticking out from the skin. If you have any larger potatoes with multiple buds you can cut it into smaller pieces so long as each piece has two to three buds. Allow cut pieces a few hours to a day to heal before planting.
Place each seed potato inside the trench spaced 10 to 14 inches apart and cover them with 2 inches of soil two weeks before the last frost of your area. As the sprouts emerge from the soil, add another 2 inches of soil to fully fill in the trench.
Water the potatoes weekly to keep the soil moist, but not overly wet or you may invite disease.
Mound up the soil around each plant each time stems and leaves come through the soil until you have a large mound at each plant with the outer edges of the mounds touching between plants.
Harvest new potatoes by using the pitch fork to dig up smaller potatoes when you notice your plants flowering. Standard, larger potatoes can be dug when the plant turns brown and dies back on its own.