How to Grow Potatoes
in the Backyard

Learning how to grow potatoes can be rewarding. Most people think growing potatoes takes up too much garden space.

Since potatoes are cheap to buy at the store, they miss the opportunity to grow this nutritious vegetable.

I have found that I can only buy Burbank russets, red potatoes and Yukon Gold in our area.


If I want another variety they are hard to find and cost considerably more.

Growing potatoes take up less space than you might think, a 10 sq ft space can yield 20 to 40 pounds of potatoes.


I chose how to grow potatoes of two varieties last season. I researched the different varieties my local nursery had in stock and chose Kennebec and All Blue.

    Kennebec is a white all purpose potato. It is used in the restaurants for French fries and baked potatoes. It has a rich flavor and makes wonderful baked potatoes.

    All Blue is a blue potato that is an all purpose potato and makes good chips and fries. We love blue potato chips, but they are expensive and hard to find.

Both varieties are long season and good storage potatoes. I bought 5 pounds of each and planted three rows 20 feet long, and 3 feet between rows for a total of 120 sq ft. of garden space.

In the fall we harvested two bushel of blue potatoes and 1 bushel of the Kennebec potatoes. We had a nice variety of large medium and small potatoes.

We spent $7.00 on seed potato and harvested about 120 pounds of potatoes.

I think the effort paid off and we continue how to grow potatoes. We enjoy trying new varieties each season.

Varieties:

Depending on the variety, potatoes are ready to harvest from 90-120 days.

    Russets: have brown skin, all purpose potato that are good for baking and mashing. Varieties include: Burbank, Butte, and Russet Nugget.

    Yellow: an all purpose potato good for baking, chips and fries. They have a light buttery flavor. Varieties Include: Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn

    Red: Good boiling potato and roasting, use in soups and stews. Varieties Include: Red Norland, Pontaic, All Red.

    Blue: is fun how to grow potatoes, is an all purpose, makes good fries, mashed. Some varieties remain blue after cooking, some change to white after cooking. Varieties Include: All Blue, Purple Peruvian, and Purple Viking



Purchase your seed potatoes in the spring at your local nursery early as they tend to sell fast and the nurseries don’t reorder. I like to pick my own seed potatoes so I like the self serve bins. I can choose the size of seed potato I want, about the size of an egg is the best

Larger potatoes can be cut into pieces. You need to have two to three eyes per piece. If you cut your seed potatoes let them dry for a day to dry out the cut sides.

If you don’t have seed potatoes locally they can be ordered online through seed companies. Once again order your seed potatoes early. They sell out fast as well.

Store seed potatoes in a cool (40 to 50 degrees F) dark place until ready to plant.

Planting:

Potatoes aren’t too fussy about their soil but do well in moist light well drained sandy soils that are slightly acidic. If your soil is heavy, add compost and organic matter. Dig with shovel or spading fork to loosen.

Plant potatoes two weeks before last spring frost. For my area that is May 15th to April 15th. If you have a wet cool spring wait awhile. Potatoes can rot in the ground if the soil is too cool and wet.

How to grow potatoes in rows, hills or wide rows.

Dig holes 3-6 inches deep, 9-16 inches apart. Put your potato seed in the hole with eyes facing down. Cover with soil. Space your rows 18 to 24 inches apart.

Growth Pattern :

The first 30 to 70 days the main shoots of the growing potato emerge from the soil. The growing potato plant uses the most nitrogen at this point. When the plant is 8 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe and bring soil up around the plant. This is called hilling. It helps keep the tubers out of the sun.

Between 70 to 90 days the main shoot slows and side shoots form. Tubers start to form. Flowering may begin. As flowers come into full bloom the tubers are growing quickly.

The growing potato uses potassium and is the most important time to keep the watering consistent. Inconsistent watering causes potatoes to become knobby.

After the flower buds fall off you can start harvesting new potatoes. Only dig a couple per plant or your later harvest will be smaller.

The growing potato plant starts to yellow and die back. The skins of the potatoes start to thicken at this point. When 75 % of the plant leaves are dead, water one last time if needed.

Wait 2 to 4 weeks.

The potatoes are hardening off. The skins become thick and store better.

These are Kennebec potatoes, they have a nice buttery flavor. We love them baked or used as fries.

This is an All Blue potato. It is rich and nutritious. It stays blue after cooking. I think its more purple than blue.

A nice earthy flavor. I love the blue mashed potatoes it makes. It is fun for the kids.

Harvesting :

2 to 4 weeks after the growing potatoes have died back, you can begin harvesting.

Harvesting potatoes is a fun activity to do with your kids. It is like digging for treasure. Use a spading fork to dig potatoes to lessen damage to the tubers. Stay about a foot away from the plants. Dig down and lift soil with spade. The potatoes are directly under the plant. Sift though the soil and place potatoes to the side.

Let the potatoes set for a few hours to dry out.

Storing :

Sort through potatoes and separate any damaged ones to eat first. Brush off dirt and store undamaged potatoes in boxes with good air flow. Cure for 2 weeks in cool place about 60 degrees F. After curing, store in cool dark place between 40 to 50 degrees F. With proper storage potatoes can last up to 6 months.

Learning how to grow potatoes is well worth the effort.

I am still learning how to grow potatoes and other vegetables.



Cooking Potatoes

Growing Sweet Corn in the backyard is a real treat and worth the effort. New sweet corn varieties give a wider choice in sweetness and flavor.

Growing green beans in the backyard is easy and productive. Green beans are fairly drought tolerant and require little attention once established.

Growing artichokes is easier than you think. Even in the north you can grow these tender delicious vegetable.



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SBI!