So you want to grow potatoes? Great! We’re going to teach you everything you need to know about how to grow potatoes from scratch.
Potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow, there is nothing better than digging for treasures in the soil and the pure bliss of pulling a large potato from its hiding place beneath the soil. Potatoes are one of those veggies that are great for beginners or children.
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How To Grow Potatoes For Beginners
There are several ways to grow potatoes, (we’ll cover more on each method for how to grow potatoes later in this article) but some of the main ones are:
- In mounds
- In raised beds
- In a bucket or trash can
- In a no-dig bed (this is how we grow our potatoes and have had great success!)
What Month To Plant Potatoes
The first step to how to plant potatoes is what month you plant your potatoes is really going to depend on where you live, potatoes are sensitive to the cold, and their foliage can be damaged and destroyed by a frost or freeze. Many gardeners plant potatoes in March, April, or May, to be harvested roughly four months later. Some areas with a mild winter can grow them in the fall for a late harvest. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 3-4 weeks prior to your last frost date.
What You Need To Grow Potatoes
To grow potatoes in your garden you are going to need:
- Loose fertile soil
- Quality seed potatoes (there are quite a few varieties to choose from, one of my favorites is Yukon Gold)
- Hand trowel or Shovel
Potato Planting Guide
The next step for how to plant potatoes is to get your hands dirty!
How To Grow Potatoes Step 1: Choosing Seed Potatoes
You can order seed potatoes online (personally I would avoid Amazon unless you know the seller) to plant in your garden. Pick a variety that you know you and your family will enjoy, or if you have room plant several different types of potatoes in your garden.
You can plant potatoes from the ones you buy at the grocery store to eat but just be aware that they can soil diseases that can infect your soil. We have used this method and they grew great! Now we save our own seed potatoes to replant.
How To Grow Potatoes Step 2: To Divide The Eyes Or Not?
Some people say to divide the eyes on your potatoes, others say it isn’t necessary. We’ve tried it both ways and found that we get more smallish potatoes when we divide the eyes, and leaving the seed potatoes whole gives a smaller number of large potatoes.
Whatever you would rather have go with that, this will answer the question do you divide to the eyes on your potatoes. If you do separate the eyes on your potatoes give them 24 hours or so to let the cuts cure and scab over before planting them.
How To Grow Potatoes Step 3: Planting Potatoes
Here is where you will have to decide what way you want to grow your potatoes. If you choose to plant them in a raised bed, mound or no-dig bed make sure you do it when heavy rain isn’t in the forecast for about a week. This will give you potatoes a chance to get started without rotting. You’ll also want to make sure your garden bed has good drainage.
Using the shovel dig a 6-inch hole, place the potato cut side down so the eye is facing you in the hole. Cover over with soil. Plant your potatoes 6-12 inches apart. You can fertilize your potato patch when you plant, or before planting by work in some well-rotted manure or compost. Water your soil well after planting.
How To Grow Potatoes Step 5: Caring For Your Potato Plants
After a couple of weeks, you should see the potatoes beginning to poke their heads above the soil. When the green sprouts achieve 8 inches in height, bury all but their top 4 inches with soil, chopped straw, or shredded leaves. Hill again when vines grow another 8 inches. The more you hill, the more prolific your harvest is likely to be. Stop hilling when your plants seem to die off or flower.
Water if the ground feels dry to you, but don’t overwater. Keep an eye out for bugs and other garden pests in your potato patch.
How To Grow Potatoes: Harvesting Potatoes & Curing
This step in how to grow potatoes is the best part in my humble opinion, harvesting! Full-sized potatoes take about 80-100 days to reach maturity. But if you want small new potatoes you can usually begin harvesting them as early as ten weeks.
When your potatoes are ready to harvest clear the straw away from your plant and gently begin digging in the soil with a garden fork or your hands to unearth the treasured potatoes. Be careful not to damage the tubers while you are digging them out. The skin can be quite soft and easily rubs off leaving the potato exposed to the air.
To cure the potatoes place them in a cool dark space for several days until the skin tightens up allowing them to be stored. Store your potatoes in a cool dark place
Potato Growing Methods
So now you know how to grow potatoes, let’s take a moment and talk about methods for growing potatoes.
How To Grow Potatoes In A Container
Growing potatoes in a container garden like a raised bed is a great way to grow them if you have poor soil or a bad back that makes tending a garden hard. When we grew our first potatoes we did it like this and loved the results. Simply follow the directions above to plant them in a raised bed.
How To Grow Potatoes In A Bucket
Use a large bucket or even a trash can and drill drainage holes in the bottom of it with a 1/4 inch drill bit. Place a few stones across the bottom of the bucket.
On top of the rocks place about 4 inches of good-quality potting soil or compost into each bucket, and place two small seed potatoes, evenly spaced or one large one cut in half on top of the soil cut side down.
Add 2 more inches of soil or compost over the top of the potatoes.
Water your potatoes liberally to settle the soil and place the buckets in a warm, sunny spot; to grow.
Put more soil over the plants when the potatoes sprout and poke above the soil – leaving only the tips of the top leaves protruding. This encourages the plant to continue growing upward, setting potatoes along the underground stem. For a cleaner, easier harvest, pile straw or sawdust over growing potatoes instead of soil.
Water the soil whenever it is dry within an inch below the surface to keep it evenly moist, and continue adding soil each time the potato plants put on a few inches of new growth until there is no more room in the bucket.
Feed weekly with low-nitrogen fertilizer or a weak compost or manure tea. Adding good solid compost instead of soil when covering the growth also provides nutrients to the growing plants.
How To Grow Potatoes In A Do-Dig Bed
To grow potatoes in a no dig bed you simply prepare the beds by removing weeds and fertalizing the soil and then planting the potatoes in rows. Mound straw around the base of your plants to block out the sunlight as they grow. Water when needed and harvest when they are ready.
How To Grow Potatoes In Mounds
When your potato plants are 6-8 inches tall, begin hilling them by gently mounding the soil from the center of your rows around the stems of the plant. Mound up the soil around the plant until just the top few leaves show above the soil. Two weeks later, hill up the soil again when the plants grow another 6-8 inches. Continue the hilling process as the plants continue to grow until there is about 12-18-inches of soil around the plant.
Tips For How To Grow Potatoes
Here are some tips for how to grow potatoes:
- If you don’t want to grow your potatoes in trenches or hill your potato plants, plant them 8-9 inches deep. Your potatoes may take longer to sprout using this method.
- Potatoes like slightly acidic soil (5.8-6.5 pH). Add fertilizer or composted manure for best results.
- If you choose to grow your potatoes in a container, try our garden soil recipe.
Before you go, check these out!