Growing Potatoes
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Growing Potatoes

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Potatoes are an herbaceous perennial that are related to tomatoes and eggplants. And while these spectacular spuds originated in Peru, most of today’s varieties can be traced back to Chile. It is ...

Potatoes are an herbaceous perennial that are related to tomatoes and eggplants. And while these spectacular spuds originated in Peru, most of today’s varieties can be traced back to Chile. It is relatively easy to grow potatoes if you follow a few key guidelines.

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    Growing Potatoes Growing Potatoes Document Transcript

    • Growing Food: A Guide for Beginners How to Grow Potatoes Potatoes are an herbaceous perennial that are related to tomatoes and eggplants. And while these spectacular spuds originated in Peru, most of today’s varieties can be traced back to Chile. It is relatively easy to grow potatoes if you follow a few key guidelines.  Potatoes have a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some are grown for early season harvest and others are grown for late season harvest. Make sure you follow the cultural requirements for the type you are planting.  Believe it or not, potatoes grow up, not down. They will produce a small crop underground, but will not dive deep like a carrot. In order to get a high yield, you will need to add compost/hay up around the vine as it grows.  Grow potatoes from tubers, not seeds. When you order “seed potatoes” you will get tubers with “eyes” on them. Eyes are those spots on a potato where roots start growing. When you cut and plant, make sure each piece has 2-3 eyes on it.  When a potato tuber is exposed to sunlight, it can turn green. This can be an indication that toxic compounds, called glycoalkaloid, have increased. These compounds are always present in potatoes, but higher doses can cause illness. Avoid eating green or sprouted potatoes and leaves and stems as well.  Spuds differ greatly in the amount of starch that is present. High starch varieties are good for mashing, baking and frying (like russets). Those with low starch are best for boiling, roasting and salads (like reds). There is an intermediate group that can be used as both a low or high starch potato (like Yukon Golds). Try a couple of different types to see which you like the best. Potato Planting Instructions  These tubers like a slightly acidic soil and sunshine. If your leaves are a too yellow, have your soil tested to find out the pH, and then amend with a soil acidifier like sulfur.  Spuds like fertile soil. Make sure the location is well amended with compost and the soil is nice and loose.  Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes, not seeds. Generally, they are sold by the pound.  Plant potatoes whole or cut in chunks, making sure that there are 2-3 eyes per piece. Many sources suggest letting the cut potatoes callous over before planting. You can do this by leaving the pieces in a bright, dry location for 24 hours until the cut sides have dried. I have also just cut the potatoes and plunged them in the ground. Copyright 2009, Jean Ann Van Krevelen
    • Growing Food: A Guide for Beginners  Plant 3-4 weeks from the last frost, usually sometime in March. I like to plant around St. Patrick’s Day.  They need to be about 5 inches deep and spaced far enough apart that you can “hill up” around them.  As the vines grow, add a combination of straw and compost up around the sides of the stems. Make sure there are some leaves exposed so the plant will continue to grow. Keep adding until the potato blooms.  When the potato blooms, you can harvest the first potatoes. These are called “new potatoes”.  Potatoes have reached maturity when the stems die back. At this point, you can harvest them or leave them in the ground to cure for an additional two weeks. This will help them last longer in storage. Copyright 2009, Jean Ann Van Krevelen