How to Plant Potatoes in Lower Michigan
Potato is a cool-season plant that does best when the soil is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the soil heats up above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the plants quit producing tubers, so the relatively cooler summer temperatures in lower Michigan are ideal for growing. Far from the farm crop that many people view it, potatoes can be a successful part of any home garden. Grow potatoes in a garden patch or in a container, depending on the amount of land you can commit. No matter how you plant them, start the last week in April or the first week in May for gardens in lower Michigan.
Dig the soil down about 12 inches and remove any rocks or large roots that you may find. Add about a 4-inch layer of well-rotted compost and mix it in with your shovel. Smooth out the soil and gently mound it up into a hill-shaped row.
Set a piece of seed potato on top of the hill every 10 inches. Push the seed potatoes down into the soil until they are 2 inches deep. Pat the soil down to make sure there is good contact with the potatoes.
Water the soil thoroughly and keep it moist throughout the growing season. Water a small amount daily rather than one big watering per week for the best-shaped potato tubers.
Dig a garden row for your potatoes that is 4 inches deep. Remove any rocks or large roots that may be present. Smooth the ground over with a shovel.
Place one seed potato on top of the row every 10 inches. Don't crowd the planting or you will not leave enough room for all of your growing potato tubers.
Cover the seed potatoes with a 6-inch layer of straw. The potatoes will sprout, sending some roots into the soil and the leaves up through the straw. The potato tubers will form inside the straw.
Water the straw thoroughly and watch it throughout the growing season. The mulching action of the straw will hold in moisture, which is good for the hot summer months in lower Michigan, so you won't need to water as often as a garden row potato patch.
Heap more straw on top of the old straw when it starts to mat down. The potato plant will continue to grow up through it and more tubers will form inside the straw pile.
In a Container
Fill a 5-gallon bucket or a barrel halfway full of potting soil. Plant one or two seed potatoes in the soil, pushing them down so that they are 2 inches below the surface.
Water the soil thoroughly and keep it moist. Container plants dry out quickly in the sunlight in lower Michigan, so you may have to water your potatoes once or twice a day in late July and early August.
Add 6 inches more soil when the plant is 1 foot tall. Heap the soil around the stem of the plants and firm it down. Do this again when the plant is again 1 foot tall, and continue on until your bucket is completely filled.
- Don't try to stretch the season by planting your potatoes in early April. Lower Michigan is too often hit with late-season winter storms and your potatoes will probably either freeze or rot in the ground due to freezing and no drainage.
- Seed potato pieces
- Large planter