Potatoes, one of the most eaten food around the world (especially in Asian countries). It is often dubbed as the “staple food of the world” and has been feeding populations for centuries.
But have you ever thought about growing them in your backyard? The delicious potatoes (ones cooked) are packed with essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Without beating around the bush let’s dive into their growing process:
Now, let’s get our hands dirty!
Choose the Right Seed Potatoes:
- Make sure you’re choosing potato seeds from a reputable source.
- If you buy potato seeds from the grocery store then chances are they might be treated to prevent sprouting or even could carry diseases.
- Chitting is actually a gardening technique used primarily for potatoes.
- Before growing potatoes, some gardeners “chit” or pre-sprout their seed potatoes.
- Place them in a cool, bright location with the eyes facing upward. So, this can help fasten the growth process before they are planted in the soil.
Prepare the Soil:
- To get your soil ready for potatoes, make sure it’s loose and can drain water easily.
- Potatoes like a slightly sour soil, so aim for a pH level between 5.0 and 6.5.
- Mix in some compost or old, crumbly manure to give the soil a nutrient boost. This definitely helps the potato cultivation process.
Now, it’s time to put the potato into a ground, here’s what you need to do:
- Dig trenches or individual holes about 4 inches deep and 12-15 inches apart.
- Place the seed potatoes with the sprouted eyes facing upwards.
- Cover with soil but leave a small mound or ridge above the ground. This will help with watering and ensure good tuber formation.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Irregular watering can lead to cracked tubers.
- As the plants grow, they continue to mound soil or mulch around the base to protect emerging tubers from sunlight which can turn them green and produce solanine, a toxic compound.
Look out for Pest and Disease:
- If you put your sweat on growing potatoes then you can’t let swarms of locusts or any other pests take over your hard work.
- Watch out for common potato pests like potato beetles and aphids.
- Diseases like late blight can also affect potatoes.
- Practice crop rotation and destroy any infected plants to prevent the spread.
Time for Harvesting:
Now, it’s time to take the fruit (in this case a potato!) of your hard work. The moment of truth!
- New potatoes can be harvested about 2-3 weeks after the plants finish flowering.
- These are small, tender potatoes often enjoyed boiled or steamed.
- For mature potatoes, wait until the plants die back naturally.
- Then, using a garden fork or shovel, carefully dig up the potatoes. Handle them gently to avoid bruising.
Ready for Storage:
- Allow the potatoes to cure in a cool, dark place for about 2 weeks after harvesting,
- This helps the skin toughen up which extends storage life.
- Store cured potatoes in a cool, dark and well-ventilated area.
By following these steps you can successfully grow your own potatoes and even if you’re an avid potato lover you might grow your own farm, I hope so!
Enjoy the satisfaction of cultivating this vegetable.