How to Plant Seed Potatoes
Potatoes are super-easy to grow and are great for storing over the cold months, they make a popular late-harvest crop. As with all home-grown vegetables, nothing from a supermarket can compare in flavor. Consider planting early and late-season varieties.
Potatoes require full sun and well-drained, loose soil. You can begin planting potatoes as soon as the soil reaches 45F and the risk of frost is past. Also, for the best results, you must start with certified seed potatoes so they're free of disease and will provide the highest yields. The seed, or eye, is the sprout that appears as soon as the potato is exposed to light.
Once you've acquired the varieties of certified seed potatoes you wish to plant, place them in a room-temperature location with bright sun a couple of weeks before the last frost. Then, using a clean, sharp knife, cut them into cubes of around 1- to 2-inches, large enough that each one contains one or two eyes, or buds. Small seed potatoes may also be planted whole. Watch our video on cutting up seed potatoes.
There are three distinct methods of planting potatoes. Trench planting means you dig trenches in rows approximately 2 to 3 feet apart, and 4 wide by 6 deep. Make sure the soil is well-worked and free of debris. Organic compost can be added to the tilled trenches, but in small amounts, because potatoes are susceptible to diseases from soil that is too rich.
Place the seed potato pieces cut side down in the trenches and cover with soil. Plant pieces no closer than a foot apart. Cover with several inches of soil. Within a couple of weeks, sprouts will grow out of the trench, at which time you add another few inches of soil on top. Each two to three weeks, add additional soil to keep the stems covered halfway. The potatoes will grow in the soil between the seed pieces and the surface, so you want to provide plenty of growing room. And, make sure the spuds themselves don't get sunlight. The plant tops will send nutrients down to the growing tubers.
Hill planting requires the same attention as trench mounding. The difference is you begin with mounded soil and you can plant your seed potatoes closer together, or in a more circular pattern as opposed to straight rows. As your plants sprout, keep covering the growing stems with fresh dirt each couple of weeks to make sure the potatoes are growing beneath the surface. You want approximately one-half of the growing stems to be continually buried in soil.
Potato Grow Bags are a novel way to grow tubers in a very small space. Grow bags are reusable and they fold flat between seasons. They're made of flexible polyethylene and include drainage holes. They hold 3 to 5 potato plants per bag and are wonderful for sunny porch or deck planting. Simply fill the bag with soil and then add seed potato cuttings. They require very little maintenance but at the end of the season, they produce a large bounty of potatoes that just fall easily out of the overturned bag. No need to dig them out!
Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed Blend is an excellent fertilizer and plant food for all vegetables, including potatoes. Dilute according to directions on the label and feed every two to three weeks for superior results. Neptune's Harvest is concentrated for efficient storage and usage. It's comprised of organic ingredients that are beneficial to the health of all growing plants, and is available in economical sizes from one pint to five gallons.
You can keep away the Colorado potato beetle away from your potato plants by simply planting a row of green been plants between each row of potatoes. Or you can use the all-natural Bonide Colorado Potato Beetle Beater as a foliar spray.