How To Grow Potatoes: The Ultimate Guide

How To Grow Potatoes: The Ultimate Guide

Want to grow some potatoes this spring but don’t know where to start? Follow this simple step by step guide to get started.

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Potatoes are a wonderful vegetable to grow for people of all levels of experience. If you know how to grow potatoes correctly they will grant you a large and exciting harvest with minimal fuss. If you follow these instructions you will learn how to successfully grow potatoes in the ground, in a container, in a bag, and even indoors!

How to Grow Potatoes

Step One: Selecting Seed Potatoes

The first step in growing potatoes is to select your seed potatoes. You can buy these from any farm store or gardening center in your local area. The reason why seed potatoes are so important is that they will perform better than potatoes from a grocery store that have sprouted in you cupboard. This does not mean that you cannot plant potatoes that have sprouted in your home, just that they will likely be less successful. Seed potatoes are also more likely to be disease free!

Step Two: Cutting the Seed Potatoes to Size

One you have purchased your seed potatoes you want to make sure they are the right size before planting them. If they are large you can cut them into pieces and grow even more plants. Make sure that each piece has at least one or two sprouts and should remain larger than a golf ball.

Step Three: Planting

This step is a little more exciting than the previous ones. It is time to plant your potatoes. Make sure to plant the potatoes in a sunny area. They should be getting at least 6 hours of sun a day and they prefer the cooler morning sun to the scorching afternoon sun. You will want to dig a hole or a trench that is about 8 inches deep and place your tubers (potatoes) cut side down so the sprouts are facing upwards. Afterwards cover the tubers with soil and then water them. Make sure to wait until after the final frost of the year to plant. The timing of this will of course depend on where you live. For me this is usually in the middle of May.

Step Four: Growing and Hilling

It is very important to the size of your harvest to “hill” the stems of your potato plants. Every time the stems grow 8 inches you will want to cover four inches in dirt or mulch. This will increase your harvest and prevent the potatoes being exposed to the sun which can render them toxic. If this does happen make sure to trim away any green parts or to be extra safe just throw them away.

Step Five: Harvesting

Now for the really exciting stuff! It is time to harvest your potatoes. Wait until the vines have died back, this is a signal that it is time to harvest your delicious tubers. It will usually take your potato plants 80-100 days to reach this point so be patient.

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How to Grow Potatoes in Containers

Growing your tubers in containers is a great option if you don’t have a garden or the space need in your garden. Containers may not provide as many potatoes during the harvest but it does have its own benefits. You won’t have to worry about things like crop rotations, pests left over from previous growing seasons or soil borne diseases. Containers also make for much easier harvesting.

Step One: Pick Your Container

To give your potatoes the best possible chance at reaching maturity and granting a full harvest make sure you select a large container. It should be around 16 inches tall and at least 14 inches in diameter. This way you can plant a couple of potato seeds in each container. It is important that the container has holes in the bottom so excess water can drain away.

Step Two: Planting Your in a Container

When you plant your seeds in the container of your choosing you should use a lightweight soil mixture. Make sure to pour 6 inches of your soil before planting the seeds. We recommend that you use a premade potting mix designed specifically for containers. It is also important to fertilize the soil during the planting process. Organic granular fertilizer should work well in this situation. Used coffee grounds are also an option as some plants like coffee grounds.

Step Three: Water consistently

Potatoes grown above ground will require more water than if they are grown in the ground. You can check if your plants need water by sticking a finger in the soil. If the top two inches feel dry your plants need water. Water until you see a small amount of water leaking out of the bottom of the container (if the bottom of your container has holes in it).

Step Four: Hill the stems

Just like growing potatoes in the ground, potatoes in a container will need their stems covered. For every 8 inches that the stems are out of the ground, cover 4 inches with extra soil or mulch. This will lead to a greater harvest and prevent the tubers from developing green skin which will happen if they are exposed to the sun. The green skin is toxic and to be safe green potatoes should be thrown out.

Step Five: Place the Containers in Full Sun

Potatoes do best when they are receiving full sunlight which at least 6 hours a day of direct sunlight. They are a vegetable that grows in partial shade (4-5 hours of sunlight per day) but they will not be as successful.

Step Six: Harvesting

It is time. The big day has arrived. You get to harvest your potatoes! Wait until the vines have died as this is a sign that the tubers are finished growing. You can expect your plants to reach maturity after about 80-100 days.

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How to Grow Potatoes in a Bag

Step One: Select Your Bag

When planting your favorite tuber in a bag you can use almost anything as long as it is large enough. You could even use a garbage bag! Although I would advise against using a black garbage bag and recommend that you use something like a burlap sack instead. A garbage bag won’t allow excess water to drain which puts your plant roots at risk of rotting,

Step Two: Planting

Planting in a bag is quite similar to planting in a container. You will want to pour 6 inches of soil into the base of the bag and then plant your seed potatoes. After this pour enough soil to cover the tops of the seed potatoes.

Step Three: Water Consistently

Depending on the type of bag you are using for your potatoes you will need to be careful with how much water you give them. If the bag you chose drains well then you shouldn’t be worried about this. To tell if your tubers need more water, stick your fingers in the soil. If the first two inches are fry water your potatoes well. If you see a little water leak out the bottom of your bag it means you have watered the roots of the plant. This is good.

Step Four: Hilling With a Bag

Hilling will be a neat thing while growing tubers in a bag. When you hill (creating a hill of soil around the stems of your potato plants) you will unfurl the bag as you go. At the end of the growing season you might just have yourself a bag filled to the brim with soil and potatoes! Everytime the stems grow by 8 inches cover 4 inches of the stems in soil or heavy mulch.

Step Five: Keep the Bags in Full Sun

Potatoes will be the most productive when they receive full sun (6-8 hours a day). Your tubers will prefer morning sun as they aren’t the biggest fans of very hot weather.

Step Six: Harvesting

I hope you’re excited because this is the best part. You will know that your potatoes are ready to harvest when the vines have died. You can expect the plants to reach this point around 80-100 days after planting them.

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How to Grow Potatoes Indoors

Growing vegetables indoors is entirely possible although there are some big challenges. The first challenge is getting enough sunlight. The second challenge is space. If you are growing potatoes or any other vegetable indoors its because, like myself, you have a tough time waiting for spring to show up. Gardening in the winter is entirely possible. You just need to make sure you have a large enough window that faces in the right direction so your plants can still get all the sunlight they need. If you can’t guarantee that your potatoes or other vegetables will get at least 5 hours of sunlight then you will need to use artificial light (UV lights). You can of course get these at almost any hardware store or order them online. Growing indoors might mean you have a much more limited area to work with. You will have to pick the right plants and limit the amount you grow.

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