Many years ago I decided to learn how to grow potatoes in the garden mainly because it sounded like a unique thing to do and I stumbled across them at the nursery one spring. Potatoes are incredibly versatile and cheap so they are a fairly common kitchen staple in my house. You can grow a wide variety of potatoes depending on what you come across at the right time. If you want to learn to grow potatoes in your own garden, here are a few simple step!
How to Grow Potatoes in the Garden
Step One: Find Seed Potatoes!
For your first attempt at growing potatoes, you are going to need to buy your seed potatoes. You can search online, go to your local nursery, or buy organic potatoes at the grocery store. Do NOT buy conventional potatoes! They have been sprayed with ‘sprouting inhibitors’ which will make it very difficult to actually grow potatoes! After your first harvest you can try using the really tiny potatoes you find in the garden during your harvest as seed potatoes. I find they store best in a bucket of dirt in a cool, dry, dark area!
Step Two: Sprout your Seed Potatoes!
Place your seed potatoes (whole and uncut) onto a warm, sunny windowsill. Mother Nature will soon have your potatoes covered will little ‘eyes’. This may take a week or two. Cut your potato into large chunks, leaving two to three eyes on each piece. Let dry on the windowsill overnight.
Step Three: Plant your seed potatoes!
You need loose, well drained, fertile soil to grow potatoes. Anything too dense will leave you with seriously deformed potatoes! They need a decent amount of sun and deep watering but let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. You don’t want your potatoes in wet soil constantly or you will end up with diseases and pests.
Fertilize and add soil:
As you start to see vine growth you need to continue to ad soil on top of the dirt already in your garden. Potatoes actually grow BETWEEN the seed potato and the top of the soil. The more soil you add on top of the original garden bed, the more potatoes you will harvest. Ideally you should grow potatoes in a special bed or frame that makes adding soil to the top easy. Next year I am hoping to build a potato frame for my backyard! Fertilize once or twice with an organic, all-purpose fertilizer during the spring and early summer
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Let the vines die off:
Some time around late summer (by early August here in Georgia) you will notice your potato vines dying. This is a good thing! Dead potato vines mean that it is almost time to harvest! Once the vines are pretty much dead you want to let the soil dry out as much as possible. You want to harvest your potatoes when the soil is dry for two reasons. It will allow for a longer storage time and the soil is easier to sort through.
How to Grow Potatoes in the Garden
Dig up your potatoes!
I try to do as much of this by hand as I can to protect the potatoes from shovel damage. After I get as many as I can by hand (and you will need to dig around a bit!) I use the shovel to turn the soil as gently as possible. Any potatoes you ding with the shovel should be used first.
Use them or store for later:
I am a hobby gardener. I use what I grow right away or within a few weeks. I am not even going to kid myself into thinking I can feed my family for the winter on what grows in my garden. Once you know how to grow potatoes in the garden, you will save a ton of money at the grocery store.
Do you grow potatoes in your garden? Have any tips to share?
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Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.