Growing Potatoes from Seed - Start to Finish
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Preparing your seed potatoes:
When your potatoes arrive, make sure if they have already begun to sprout that you leaves these sprouts on. Breaking them off can delay growth and even limit the amount of vines that eventually will emerge from your seed potato. Seed potatoes that are roughly the size of an egg may be planted whole, but if they are larger make sure to cut them into smaller pieces, each one with a strong eye if possible.
Where to plant your seed potatoes:
When choosing a location try to find soil that is deep, loose and well-drained. Most of the varieties we carry will have aggressive root systems which will benefit from moisture retentive soil as well. Even if your soil is less than ideal, keep in mind that potatoes are quite adaptable and will produce decently even in less than quality soil. Aim for a pH ranging from 5.2-6.8. When fertilizing don't give your potatoes too much nitrogen. If you do, they'll grow plenty of leafy vines but won’t produce very many tubers.
When and how to plant your seed potatoes:
For optimum growth, the soil temperature should range from 55 deg. F. to 70 deg. F. The width between rows and overall plant spacing is determined by the size of your garden, however, gardeners can get by with as little as 2 feet between rows. Dig a shallow trench about 6-8 inches deep and plant the seed pieces 10-14 inches apart in this trench. Using a rake, cover the seed with 3-4 inches of soil. Do not fill the trench completely.
Use "hilling" techniques while your potatoes are growing:
When the stems are about 8 inches high, gently hill the vines up with soil scraped from both sides of the row with a hoe. Leave about half of the vine exposed. Hilling puts the root system deeper where the soil is cooler while the just scraped-up soil creates a light fluffy medium for the tubers to develop into. All tubers will form between the seed piece and the surface of the soil. Another hilling will be needed in another 2-3 weeks and yet another as well, 2 weeks after the second. On subsequent hilling, add only an inch or two of soil to the hill, but make sure there is enough soil atop the forming potatoes that they don't push out of the hill and get exposed to light.
Harvesting your Potatoes:
Try to wait for the tops of your plants to die back naturally, so your harvest will be a little bigger and your potatoes just a tad richer. Dry soil is definitely preferred when harvesting; the tubers come up a lot cleaner and with much less effort. Once the tops are dead, rest the tubers in the ground, undisturbed for two weeks to "cure," while the skins toughen up, protecting the tubers from scuffing and bruising during harvest and storage. It is better to harvest in the cool morning hours.