When to hill potatoes?

What could be more satisfying than the flavor of freshly dug potatoes lifted straight from your own garden? Learn how to grow potatoes using the traditional trench and hill method.

You can’t beat the flavor of freshly dug potatoes from your own garden. Potatoes are a staple crop that can feed you almost all year because they store well in a root cellar or cool basement.

One of the methods of planting potatoes is the trench and hill method. This involves digging trenches, piling the soil in between the trenches, planting the seed potatoes, and hilling the potato plants as they grow.

This is the traditional method of growing potatoes that farmers have used for centuries only scaled down for the backyard garden. The hilling method is ideal if you have good-quality soil and a large garden space.

Contents

How to Grow Potatoes: Trench and Hill Method

After you have sourced your seed potatoes, figured our when to plant, and prepared the potato seeds for planting, you are ready to dig your trenches.

  • Sourcing Seed Potatoes for the Backyard Garden
  • Chitting Potatoes Gives Them a Head Start

Step 1: Plot out your potato bed

Remove all weeds, measure out your rows, and dig trenches about 4-6 inches deep and two feet apart. Mound up your soil in between the rows. You will be using this soil to hill your potatoes later.

Step 2: Add amendments

Once the trench is dug, add some finished compost and an organic fertilizer to the bottom of the trench and work it into the soil.

Step 3: Plant your potato seed

Place your potato seeds about 12-inches apart and cover with just 4 inches of soil. Water the newly planted potato bed very well. Your potato plants should emerge from the soil in about two weeks. It may take longer if the soil is still cold.

Step 4: Hill the potato plants

As the potatoes grow, pull the soil from the mounds in between the trenches to cover the new growth.

When the plants are 6-8 inches tall, begin hilling the potatoes by gently mounding the soil from the center of your rows around the stems of the plant. Mound up the soil around the plant until just the top few leaves show above the soil.

Two weeks later, hill up the soil again when the plants grow another 6-8 inches. Repeat the process of hilling and building up the soil as the plants continue to grow until there is about 12-18-inches of soil around the plant.

Step 4: Mulch the potato bed

Mulch thickly with straw or shredded leaves to keep the soil cool, weed-free, and to cover any tubers that grow close to the surface to prevent them from turning green.

  • 5 Ways Organic Mulch Helps Your Garden

Step 5: Harvest your potatoes

Baby potatoes are delicious. Once the potato plants bloom, you can begin harvesting potatoes as needed for meals. Dig carefully beneath the soil and pull out what you need. Try not to damage too many roots so the plant can continue growing. If you are growing potatoes for storage, allow the tubers to remain in the ground to mature fully.

I enjoyed a great harvest for my first attempt at growing potatoes. Although the potato crop I grew using the trench and hilling method was successful, I didn’t like the extra labor involved in hilling, the messy appearance of the garden, and the wasted space in between the rows. The following year, I tried growing potatoes using the John Jeavons’ Grow Biointensive method. Visit this article to learn another way to grow potatoes: Planting Potatoes the Biointensive Way.

Want to Learn How to Grow Potatoes?

You will find everything you need to start growing potatoes in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Growing Potatoes. Whether you are striving for a few gourmet fingerling potatoes or a large crop for winter food storage, this guide will show how you can grow your own, organic, homegrown potatoes.

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  • Harvest Hearty Beef Stew Recipe
  • 8 Great Tips for Growing Potatoes

Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden.

Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.

Covering Potato Plants: How To Hill Up Potato Plants

Whether grown in a garden, a barrel, old tires or a grow bag, potatoes need to be covered with loose organic material periodically, or hilled up. This addition of organic material encourages the potato tubers to grow deep and wide and allows new potatoes to form on top of maturing potatoes. Depth and darkness improve the flavor of potatoes. Potatoes grown too close to the surface and receiving too much sunlight will grow bitter and contain chemicals that can be toxic.

Covering Potato Plants

Traditionally, in March-May seed potatoes are planted 1 ½-2 feet apart in a 6- to 8-inch deep trench. They are covered with soil or organic material, such as sphagnum peat moss, mulch or straw and then watered deeply. In early spring, Mother Nature may do much of the watering.

When the potato vines grow to about 6-8 inches above the soil surface, more soil or organic material is hilled up around the young potato seedlings so that only the top leaves stick out of the ground. This forces new tubers and new potatoes to grow under the new mound of soil. When the potato vines again reach 6-8 inches above the soil surface, they are hilled up again.

If there is the danger of a late frost, young tender potato plants can be completely covered with this soil to protect them from frost damage. Hilling up potatoes also helps keep weeds down around the potato root zone,

so the potatoes are not competing for nutrients.

How to Hill Up Potato Plants

Covering potato plants with fresh, rich loose organic material like this can continue until the hill is as tall as you can or want to make it. Ideally, the taller the hill, the more potatoes you will get. Unfortunately, rain and wind can erode these potato hills if they are left exposed. Some farmers use bricks or wire mesh as walls to hold up the hills and prevent erosion.

Many potato growers have come up with new methods of growing deep, erosion free potato hills. One method is to grow potatoes in old tires. A tire is placed in the garden and filled with loose organic material, and a seed potato is planted in the center. When the potato sprouts to about 6-8 inches tall, another tire is stacked on top of the first tire and filled with soil or organic material so that the potato vine is vertical and its top leaves are just sticking out of the soil surface or just below the soil surface.

As the potatoes grow, more tires and soil are added until your tire pillar is as high as you want to go. Then when it is time to harvest potatoes, the tires are simply removed, one by one, exposing the potatoes for harvest. Many people swear this is the best way to grow potatoes, while others continued to try other methods.

Other ways to grow deep, flavorful potatoes is in a barrel, garbage bin or grow bag. Make sure barrels or garbage bins have proper drainage holes in the bottom before planting. Proper drainage is essential to successful potato growing, as too much water can cause tubers and potatoes to rot. Potatoes grown in barrels, bins or grow bags are grown the same way as they are grown in natural hills or tires.

The seed potato is planted in the bottom in a layer of loose soil about a foot deep. When the potato vine grows to about 6-8 inches, more soil is gently added to cover all but the tips of the potato plant. Potato vines are allowed to grow a little, then covered with loose soil or organic material this way until you reach the top of your barrel or grow bag.

Wherever you choose to grow your potatoes, covering potato plants with loose organic material is essential for proper potato development. With any method, potato plants are hilled up or covered whenever the potato vine reaches about 6-8 inches tall. Some potato growers like to add a thin layer of straw between each addition of soil.

However you grow your potatoes, deep watering, proper drainage and hilling up with fresh soil are the keys to healthy, flavorful potatoes.

How Often To Water Potatoes

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Potatoes grow best when they have a steady supply of 2-3 inches of water per week without fully drying out.

Potato plants should be watered deeply, especially if it gets very hot and dry. The soil should be moist 8 to 10 inches underground.

Make sure not to overwater the potatoes for 2 weeks after planting. Watering every 4 to 5 days is usually enough during the first weeks after planting.

Water the plants every day or two 6 to 8 weeks after planting, when the plants will begin making new potatoes underground. Doing this will help the potatoes grow bigger and more evenly.

How to grow potatoes

If you would like more information about growing your own potatoes, please read my article How to grow potatoes. This covers everything you need to know from planting, preparing seed, growing, harvesting and storage and more about this great vegetable.

How often to water potatoes

When growing potato plants, making sure they have enough water during the right times helps maximize the amount and quality of potatoes you get at harvest.

Potato plants that don’t have a steady water supply will grow fewer and smaller potatoes. The potatoes will also develop defects like knots, lumps, and cracks as they are growing.

Potatoes that were grown in the right level moisture will taste better and last longer when stored.

When potatoes are harvested, their skins need to cure and dry. If the skins have cracks and knots the potatoes cannot cure properly and will not store well.

By monitoring your region’s rainfall, checking moisture levels of the soil, and knowing how much moisture the plants need, you can decide how often you need to water your potato plants.

Read on below to learn how to estimate how much to water your plants and how to tell if your plants are not getting the ideal amount of water.

Will the plants tell me when they need watering?

It is normal to see plants drooping due to the heat on summer days but this does not necessarily mean they need watering.

Checking the moisture level of the soil is better than just looking at the plants.

You cannot see how new potatoes are developing and growing underground.

You may not know if your potatoes experienced overly dry or wet conditions until you harvest them.

The potato plant’s leaves will turn yellow and start to die back if it is getting too much water.

How much water do potatoes need?

Potato plants typically need 1-2 inches of water per week. This can come from a combination of natural rainfall and additional watering.

If the climate is especially hot and dry, the plants will need more water. Deeply watering the soil helps to keep the ground cooler during hot periods.

How much rainwater does my region receive?

Check your local weather reports or use a rain gauge to see how much rain you are getting.

Especially while the potatoes are forming underground, 6 to 8 weeks after planting, you should supplement rainfall with watering or irrigation if needed.

How often should I water my plants?

After planting and a thorough watering, wait up to 2 weeks before watering again, as long as the soil doesn’t dry out completely. Keep the soil moist but not wet during these first 2 weeks.

After that, watering your plants every 4 to 5 days after plants is typically enough if your region is experiencing normal rainfall and temperatures.

Check the moisture level of the soil before you water the plants and don’t overwater – the soil should always be moist but never wet.

Increase the frequency of watering if rainfall is scarce or temperatures are high and the soil is dry.

In drier climates, you may want to consider drip irrigation systems to avoid manually watering every day.

How much water should I use?

Potatoes grow best with deep and thorough watering. Most potato roots are shallow but some go quite deep.

Irrigated potato plants get almost a quarter of their water supply from the second foot of underground soil.

The soil should be moist 8 to 10 inches below ground for the deeper roots to absorb water.

You can check that the soil is moist using a common garden soil moisture. Many of these have a probe around 8 inches long that would work for estimating the moisture level.

If the soil is already moist, no additional watering is needed at that time.

What happens if I water my potatoes too much?

Depending on the growing stage, overwatering can have different effects.

Watering too much after planting and not enough while the new tubers are forming can lead to misshapen potatoes.

Overwatering after the plants die back can cause the underground potatoes to rot.

What happens if I don’t water my potatoes enough?

Potatoes need a steady supply of water from planting until the vines begin to die back to grow to their full potential.

You will get fewer, smaller, and more irregular potatoes if you don’t water them enough.

Is it okay to let the soil to dry out?

While potatoes can stand some dryness when temperatures are hot.

If the climate is dry and you are experiencing water shortages, it is okay to let the soil dry out at the surface. But if dryness last more than a few days, the plants will begin to die if they are not watered.

If the soil does dry out, water the potato plants deeply and thoroughly.

This will make sure that any potatoes that might be developing underground are not damaged.

When should I stop watering my potato plants?

After 90 to 120 days the vines will begin to turn yellow and die back. This is a natural sign that they are almost ready to harvest.

Stop watering the plants to allow the skins to dry out and cure for about 2 weeks before harvest. Good Luck!

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Potato Plants

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How to Fertilize a Potato Plant

Potatoes require well-drained, slightly sandy soil in order to thrive. This type of soil is often low in nitrogen, a nutrient the potatoes also require for healthy growth. Fertilizing the potatoes in your home garden both before planting and once they are established helps ensure your plant produces healthy, well-formed tubers for use in the kitchen. While a soil test tells you the exact fertilization your garden needs, using general fertilizer requirements will still give your potatoes a good chance at healthy growth.

Loosen the soil to 12-inch depth using a power tiller. Remove any stones or large roots from the bed and dispose of them.

Spread 10 pounds of 10-10-10 analysis fertilizer over every 100 square feet of garden bed in the spring about one week before planting the potatoes. Work the fertilizer into the top 10 inches of loosened soil.

Fertilize potatoes a second time six weeks after planting. Work 1 tablespoon of 10-10-10 analysis fertilizer into the soil by each plant. Work the fertilizer in 6 inches away from the stem of each plant so you don’t get fertilizer directly on the roots, which may cause damage.

How to Plant Potatoes

How to Plant Sprouted Seed Potatoes

Cut large seed potatoes into pieces approximately the size of one large hen egg. Ensure that each piece has at least one sprouted eye. Smaller potatoes can be planted whole.

Dig a trench in the prepared garden space 6 inches deep. If you plan to plant more than one row, space subsequent rows 2 feet apart.

Break off all but one long, stringy potato sprout from the seed potato pieces. If the sprouts are still small, there is no need to break them off.

Space the seed potatoes 10 to 12 inches apart in the trench. With a long stringy sprout, lay the sprout horizontally in the row, to be completely covered.

Cover the seed potatoes with at least 4 inches of soil. Do not water until the sprouts emerge from the soil.

How to Sprout Seed Potatoes

Spread the seed potatoes over the work surface. Cover the surface with newspaper to protect the surface if the potatoes are going to be placed on a table or countertop.

Turn the potatoes over once a day to expose them to daylight.

Cut and cure the potatoes for planting when the “eyes” have begun to sprout. The cure is complete when the cut portion of the potatoes feels dry to the touch.

How to Cure Garden Potatoes

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Spread the potatoes in a single later in a tray.

Store for two weeks in a dark location, at 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 to 95 percent humidity.

Discard any potatoes that are shriveled, soft or have blemishes.

Do Potatoes Need Sun to Grow?

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Light Requirements

For best results, potato plants need full sun, even though the potatoes themselves develop underground. You should look for a spot in your garden not surrounded by taller plants that could block out some of the natural light.

Soil Requirements

Potato plants also have specific soil needs and do best with a well-draining loose soil that contains a lot of organic matter. Heavy soils or clay soils may cause drainage problems for the plants.

Planting Depth and Spacing

Once you have a nice sunny spot to plant your potatoes, dig a hole 3 inches deep for each seed piece. You should space the plants 10 inches to 12 inches apart, and rows of plants should be about 3 feet apart.

How to Store Red Potatoes for the Winter

Wipe off any dirt from your harvested red potatoes.

Carefully examine the potatoes for signs of greening, cuts, bruises or disease and discard these.

Spread the remaining potatoes in a single layer on top of a newspaper-lined basket.

Drape another piece of newspaper over the potatoes and store them in a dark spot with high humidity and a temperature between 60 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 days to cure the red potatoes for storage.

Move the box of potatoes to a completely dark spot with 85 percent humidity and temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit for up to four months.

How Much Will 5 Lbs. of Seed Potatoes Yield?

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Five pounds of seed potatoes plants approximately a 40- to 55-foot long row, yielding between 60 and 100 pounds of potatoes in a good harvest. Cut seed potatoes into 1 1/2 to 2 ounce pieces, each containing at least one eye. Plant pieces approximately 12 inches apart.

How to Plant & Grow Red Potatoes

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Choose a place in the garden with well-drained soil and full sun. Perform a home soil test. Red potatoes do best in soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. If the soil is basic, add 5 to 6 inches of compost to the soil and work it in to a depth of 3 feet.

Dig holes about 4 inches deep and 11 inches apart. Place the seed tubers into the holes and cover them with 4 inches of soil. Space the rows of potatoes about 2 feet apart. Plant the potatoes when the soil is 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add 1 inch of water to the red potatoes once a week. Allow the water to soak into the roots. Sandy soil will need water two to three times weekly.

Remove weeds from around the red potato plants. Pull them up by hand.

Harvest the red potatoes when the leaves of the plants dry. Till the ground lightly with the spade fork to bring the potatoes to the surface. Pick them out of the dirt.

Do You Plant the Eyes of the Potato Up or Down When Planting Seed Potatoes

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Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. When planting seed potatoes, plant the potatoes two to three inches deep with the eyes pointing up. This will allow the tubers to grow towards the surface and reach light.

How Many Pounds of Seed Potatoes Per Row?

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Approximately 9 to 12 pounds of seed potatoes plants a 100-foot row. Cut pieces into 1 1/2 to 2 ounce pieces and plant approximately 9 to 12 inches apart. A 100-foot planted row yields approximately 150 to 175 pounds of potatoes.

How to Feed Potato Plants

Choose a granular fertilizer. Select any standard vegetable fertilizer with a low amount of nitrogen–the nutrient encourages foliage production, which is undesirable in potato plants–and a higher percentage of phosphorous. Example fertilizer ratios include 6-24-24 and 8-24-24.

Prepare the trench or hill in which you will place the pieces of potatoes that you’re using as seed. Apply the fertilizer according to its label’s guidelines but an inch below the soil layer where you will lay the potatoes. This places the extra nutrients within direct access of the newly formed potato plant roots.

Plant the seed potatoes in the trench. Cover with soil, and water twice daily.

Apply fertilizer on the soil’s surface every four weeks once the potato plants have sprouted and broken the surface. Administer the fertilizer before your regular watering to help dilute the nutrients and prevent plant burns.

The Best Red Potatoes to Grow in Texas

Red La Soda is a mid-season variety of potato that was developed in Louisiana in the late 1950s. Red La Soda is a thin-skinned potato with very white flesh. The tubers may be irregularly shaped and have deep eyes.

Viking

Viking potatoes are heavy producers. They are also a mid-season variety, maturing early and have a dark-red color. Viking potatoes keep well in storage.

Norland

This smooth-skinned red potato is an early-season variety. It has a low-moisture content, making it more suitable for baking than other red potatoes. Like Vikings, Norlands store well.

How to Save Seed Potatoes

Harvest your potato crop from healthy plants by digging them up with a pitchfork and lifting the potatoes to the surface. Sort through the potatoes to collect the ones that are egg-sized or smaller.

Look over the smaller ones to make sure they are firm without cuts or any signs of damage or rot. Keep only the best looking potatoes to be your seed potatoes.

Set the seed potatoes out in the sun for a few hours to dry. Use your hands to gently brush away any excess soil from the skin without pressing so hard you rip or damage the skin.

Place the potatoes in a dry window for two to three days to encourage them to go dormant. After a few days have passed, set the potatoes into an empty cardboard egg carton and close the lid.

Store the potatoes in a dry, dark place with good air circulation where they can sit until the following late winter or early spring. Check on the potatoes once a week and pull out and discard any that are rotting.

When to Plant Potatoes in Wisconsin

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Time Frame

Planting time for potatoes in Wisconsin depends on the type of potato you want to grow. Early varieties should be planted as soon as you can work the soil, usually late April, according to Wisconsin Master Gardeners. Mid- to late-season potatoes can be planted from mid May to mid June.

Considerations

The Wisconsin Master Gardeners also recommends you get a head start on the growing season by sprouting your potatoes two to three weeks before you plant. This is especially effective for early season potatoes.

Warning

Potato seedlings are delicate. If you try to sprout them ahead of time, handle them with extreme care on planting day.

How to Plant Seed Potatoes With Sprouts

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Step 1

Count the “eyes” or sprouts on the potato. Ideally, the seed potato should have two or three eyes. If some of the potatoes are larger and have more eyes, use your fingers to rub off all but two or three of them. Seed potatoes that have started to sprout are desirable.

Step 2

Prepare the soil. Potatoes prefer loose, well-drained soil high in organic material with high water retention capability relatively free of rocks and with a pH of 5.5 to 6. Work the soil to loosen it, using a tiller or cultivation tool. Dig holes 4 to 6 inches deep and about 15 inches apart, using a shovel.

Step 3

Plant a sprouted seed potato, sprouts pointing up in each hole, and cover with soil. Fill the holes completely, but be careful not to damage the sprouts. Water well to moisten the soil, but do not overwater. If the soil tends to form a crust, break the crust and loosen the soil surface with the shovel until the sprouts break the surface.

Simple Potato Planting Instructions

Use a hand tiller to aerate the top eight to nine inches of soil in the garden bed. Remove any debris from the dirt that could make it difficult for the potatoes to expand and grow, such as rocks and roots.

Dig holes that are about twice the size of the whole seed potatoes, spacing them 10 to 12 inches apart. Space the rows 24 to 36 inches apart to give the plants room to spread.

Drop a seed potato into each hole, smoothing the dirt over the top. Cover each row with a ridge of soil that’s one to three inches high.

Water the potato plants lightly so that the ground is just damp.

How to Fertilize Potatoes

How to Determine the Yield of Seed Potatoes

Cut the seed potatoes into pieces containing at least one “eye” and the approximate size of a medium hen’s egg.

Spread the cut seed potatoes on newspaper, cut-side up, to cure, or “heal over,” for 24 to 72 hours.

Weigh the cured seed potatoes.

Multiply the number of pounds of cut seed by 10 to reach an approximate average yield of finished potatoes. In an above average garden space, the yield may be as much as 20 times the weight of the seed. For example, 5 pounds of seed will yield 50 pounds of potatoes in an average garden space, while the same 5 pounds could yield 100 pounds if conditions are perfect.

How Many Potatoes Grow From 1 Seed Potato?

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The average yield from one seed potato is typically 6 to 12 new potatoes. Variety, soil conditions, spacing and harvest time all affect the exact amount. Depending on the variety planted, one 100-foot row, with seed pieces planted 36 inches apart, can produce from 150 to 300 pounds of potatoes.

How to Grow Potatoes in a Garbage Can

How to Make a Row for Planting Potatoes

Till your planting area in the early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked, to loosen and break apart the soil.

Use a hoe to dig a trench as long as like. Make it 3 inches deep into the plowed area.

Place pieces of seed potato in the trench, leaving 9 to 12 inches between the pieces.

Cover the seed potatoes with the dirt removed when hoeing the trench.

Cover the row with a 4- to 5-inch layer of straw or hay to act as mulch once the plants have broken the surface of the garden bed. This will allow the row to retain moisture.

If you want a second row, make it 2 to 3 feet from the first row. Plant multiple rows in the same way as the first.

How to Store Potatoes in Peat Moss

Poke several holes in a plastic garbage bag with a knife.

Line a box or metal garbage can with the prepared garbage bag.

Mix just enough water with the peat moss so that the moss feels damp to the touch without dripping water.

Fill the garbage bags with alternating layers of potatoes and peat moss, starting and ending with peat moss at the bottom and top of the garbage can.

Cover the can with the lid and store the potatoes at 50 degrees F for up to three weeks for early potatoes or 40 degrees F for up to nine months for late potatoes, according to Cornell University.

Planting Instructions for Potatoes

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Purchase and store certified seed potatoes in a cool place for two weeks.

Spread seed potatoes two weeks after purchasing, in a single layer in a greenhouse, room or barn that receives light. This is the start of a process known as “green sprouting.”

Provide high humidity for seed potatoes by misting the area lightly once daily.

Turn the seed potatoes every four to five days to encourage strong, uniform sprouts.

Work 10-10-10 fertilizer into planting bed soil, using 3 pounds per 100 square feet, before planting seed potatoes. This prevents feeder root burning and decay.

Plant seed potatoes in the spring when soil has warmed to 45 degrees, in a furrow or hill 4 to 6 inches deep, spaced 8 to 10 inches apart in rows, from 32 to 36 inches apart. Cover with about 2 inches of soil.

Mound soil up around plants when they are 5 or 6 inches tall, a technique called “hilling.” Continue the process until the plants are 12 to 15 inches high. Cover any weeds while hilling, but do not totally cover potato plants.

What to Dip Cut Seed Potatoes in Before Planting

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According to the “American Journal of Potato Research”, root hormone dusting powders and ground limestone can be used on cut seed potatoes but there is no verifiable benefit. Instead, simply cut the seed potatoes into egg-size pieces with at least one eye per cut and allow to “heal over” in a cool, dark place for one to two days to prevent root rot.

How to Store Red Pontiac Potatoes

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a pallet covered with several sheets of newspaper, or a box with a screened bottom, or open-weaved-bottom vegetable bin, for proper ventilation. Ideally, the potatoes should not be touching.

Store the Red Pontiac potatoes in a cool, dry, dark location at temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees F.

Check the potatoes several times a month and discard any potato that shows signs of spoilage or sprouting. Store the Red Pontiac potatoes for up to five months.

What Is the Best Climate for Planting Potatoes?

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Plant potatoes after the last spring frost date in your region, as soon as soil is workable. This can be as early as April or May in most Northern regions. In Southern regions that experience high summer temperatures, potatoes do better as a winter crop.

Climate

Potatoes grow best in relatively cool weather with daytime temperatures in the mid-60s and nighttime temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in the 90s can decrease yield, and temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit may kill plants. Soil temperatures should fall between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be verified with a meat thermometer probe, and mulch can help to maintain soil moisture and temperature.

Features

Seed potatoes are whole potatoes designated for use in growing new plants. Small seed potatoes may be planted whole, while larger ones can be cut into smaller chunks as long as each chunk contains an eye root.

Process

Although potatoes grow underground, seed potatoes do not need to be planted deep. Bury seed potatoes 12 inches apart under about 3 inches of soil, but leave at least 2 feet between rows so the root systems can spread out underground. Pull soil into a hill to ensure roots are adequately covered to avoid sunburned potatoes. Water consistently to keep soil moist and loose.

Fun Fact

Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state in the U.S. — nearly one-third of all potatoes grown in the country. California, Maine and Washington are also leading producers. The cool, humid climates in these states are ideal for growing and storing the vegetable.

Planting Potatoes in Pallets

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Purchase firm and unsprouted certified seed potatoes from a garden center or nursery. Order certified seed potatoes from a reputable catalog or online garden supplier if you are unable to find them in your area.

Choose a full-sun planting location that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day.

Lay a wooden pallet flat on the ground in the planting location and stand four more pallets on their sides, so the pallets form a box with four sides and a bottom. Secure the corners of the pallet together with heavy gardening wire to create a sturdy wooden growing bin for your potatoes.

Blend together equal parts peat moss and coarse builder’s sand to create a well-draining growing medium for your potatoes. Cover the bottom pallet with several sheets of newspaper to prevent the growing medium from falling through the wooden slats. Top the newspaper with 12 inches of the growing medium.

Place the seed potatoes on the surface of the growing medium. Space the seed potatoes 10 to 12 inches apart to allow adequate room for growth.

Cover the seed potatoes with a six- to eight-inch layer of straw. Maintain the layer of straw throughout the entire growing season, adding more straw whenever the green potato shoots begin to emerge.

How Much Space Is Needed When Planting Potatoes?

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Seed Pieces

Seed pieces may be whole potatoes or pieces of potatoes weighing about 2 ounces each. Each seed piece has to have at least one good eye.

Rows

Create rows in the soil about one to three inches deep. Leave space of 24 to 36 inches between rows to allow the plants to shade the soil and prevent high soil temperatures that could inhibit potato growth.

Space Between Seed Pieces

Leave spaces of 10 to 12 inches between seed pieces in the rows. The amount of garden space you need would depend on the number of seed pieces you want to plant.

Watering Potatoes Regularly For High Yield Crops

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Page Contents

  • Watering Potatoes
  • Watering Systems
  • Mulching
  • More…….

Watering Potatoes

While production of high yield potato crops in the home vegetable garden is achieved by watering potatoes regularly, it is maintaining a consistent soil moisture throughout the growing season that is the key factor. Water stressed plants are much more susceptible to disease and pest problems than plants that have a consistent supply.

It is good practice, in hot dry weather, to monitor the moisture content on a regular basis to see if the potato bed has sufficient moisture for good growth.

Good soil moisture for potatoes is essential for bumper crops, consistently moist is the key.

Water Requirements

Potatoes need about 1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) of water per week. If Mother Nature is reluctant to supply the necessary water, then some type of irrigation system is going to be required. When irrigating the crop, a few thorough night time soakings with a soak hose throughout the growing season is better than more frequent watering that just wet the surface. For best results let the water soak down a good 8 – 12 inches (20 – 30 cm)

Inconsistent watering can cause your potato tubers to produce ears and noses, become split, or have hollow hearts. This irregular growth of potato tubers usually occurs when the potato bed is allowed to dry out too much and then receives a thorough soaking.

End Of Season Water

Towards the end of the growing season when the tops are starting to turn yellow and die off, you can slow down on the watering. But, still don’t let the bed dry out completely. The potato crop, at this point, still needs to be kept moist. Harvesting in drier soil is easier and potatoes are better cured and ready for storage.

Good watering management and mulching should see your crop through the dry summer periods with a bumper crop to harvest.

Watering Systems

It is better to use a soak hose to supply the water needed rather than overhead sprinkling when watering potatoes. Many fungal diseases thrive in the warm wet conditions that can be created by overhead sprinklers in hot weather. Soak hoses not only reduce the chances of inducing these conditions by keeping the water on the ground and not on the plant, they also reduce water wastage by delivering water where it’s needed without wasteful over spraying.

Not much to see, just the start and end of this soak hose in a single row of potatoes. The hose is laid down before the first mounding so it is buried more as the potatoes are further mounded, putting the water at the plants root system where it is needed.

The arrow points to exposed soak hose, it took a little digging to find but you can just see the exposed soak hose.

If an over head watering system is all that is available, avoid watering potatoes in the heat of the day. Either early morning before the heat of the day, or late evening after the hottest part of the day has past.

Mulching To Conserve Water

In many areas water restriction in the summer months are a fact of life. If water conservation is a key factor in what and how you are able to grow potatoes, then mulching might be the answer. The practice of mulching has a tremendous impact on the consistency of soil moisture and cannot be over emphasized. Potatoes are particularly susceptible to excessive soil temperatures and inconsistent soil moisture.

A good thick layer of organic mulch will help keep the soil both cooler and reduce moisture loss from the soil beneath it. Anything that will provide the soil with a thick mat of protection is good, used here is a mixture of straw, dried grass clippings and leaves.

For the next page in this section follow this link to Harvesting potatoes

related pages

Vegetable Planting Guide

Home Page – – Top of Watering Potatoes Page – How to Grow Potatoes – Alphabetical List of Vegetables

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