It’s time to get ready to plant potatoes! I’m so excited! Potatoes are some of the first crops we plant in spring.
Potatoes are the “funnest” crop my kids like to grow. It’s easy for them to plant and they really have fun digging up and finding the large, underground treasures at harvest time.
My target plant date here in mid-eastern Missouri is Saint Patrick’s Day (USDA zone 6a). We just recently made our annual stop at our favorite local produce store and seed potato provider, Sugar Grove Growers. We love this store. These folks know their stuff and have been in business in our local community for a very long time.I usually plant Red and Yukon Gold potatoes. This gives us a good variety of flavor and storing options and they do well in our soil.
I select potatoes a little bigger than a golf ball or a little smaller than a baseball. These are easier to plant with less potential problems. You can also get bigger ones and then cut them into these smaller sizes with 2 to 3 eyes each. You need to let these cut pieces “cure” for a day or two before planting.
When you plant seed potatoes, you need to ensure the eyes are pointing up. The eyes are what produce the foliage above the surface of the ground. The underground planted seed potato will provide food for the plant while it gets established. New potatoes will grow from the underground stems that develop as the plant matures.
Our garden is structured mostly using 5 x 20 foot wide-row beds with walking paths in between. I plant potatoes about 8 – 9 inches below the loosened soil surface on 12 inch centers evenly spaced throughout bed. One bed can plant about 8 pounds of seed potatoes.
After planting, I put a thick layer of straw or hay on top of the ground to retain moisture and keep the weeds down. As the plants develop over the growing season, I add a little more hay mulch. At harvest time, I just move the hay aside and fork out the potatoes.
I highly recommend a quick soil test be done in preparation for planting. I used to not concern myself with soil testing, thinking my composting routine would make the soil “good” without testing. Over time I started losing yield and “discovered” soil testing is best to ensure the right balance for the specific crop.
Potatoes like more acidic soil. The PH should be between 4.5 and 6.0. If my soil is not at this level, I will lose yield. I grow all-naturally and use Martin’s Disper-Sul Elemental Sulfur to bring the PH down if it is too high. I get this from our nearby organic grower supply store, Greene’s Country Store and Feed.
Happy planting! What are some of your potato planting tips and secrets?