Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Plant Potatoes

Buying Seed Potatoes
Buying good seed potatoes is really easy.  You can simply buy them at the market if you like, choosing your favorite varieties.  If you like more exotic potatoes, you may need to buy them online.

Planting Potatoes/Soil Prep
In order to plant our seed potatoes from last year we had to wait for it to get warm enough.  We tilled the ground up and fertilized with manure and lime (to help with the Ph of the soil). J sat and cut the potatoes into pieces making sure to leave at least 3 eyes.  Leaving more eyes is a good idea in my opinion because it ensures sprouting. For small fingerling potatoes I sometimes just throw them in whole.
Our beds are 5' from center of tractor tire to tire.  We made two furrows in the bed at 14" and 28".  I like my rows 28" apart because I find the extra space inward keeps the tractor off of them. After laying them out about 10"  apart in the furrows we came through with a cultivator and hilled them up.

Potatoes are one of those crops that needs to be hilled a few times in the season.  As time moves on we will side dress the plants with compost for continued feeding.  I like to side dress and then hill with the cultivator.  That way the compost gets layered in.

Once covered it takes up to 2 weeks till we see sprouts with leaves.Some folks like to cover their beds with straw, but this can carry weed seed. I find that the hilling takes care of weeds.  The potatoes get big and smother any other weeds out, making it only necessary to spot weed.

Pests and Problems
 Potatoes can get flea beetles on them. Flea beatles look like little "squareish" shaped fleas.  They jump when you touch the leaves.  They can suck a plant dry and kill it if not treated! You can cover with floating row cover to keep them off, but once you have an infestation you should spray with  spray with safer soap during the late morning when they are out and then with Neem oil later, which they HATE.  There are plenty of ready made organic sprays that do the job without lacing your plants with poison. We usually spray (using backpack sprayer) a few times, over a few days until we stop the little beasties.
Sprouted Potato Plants  
Remember! Potatoes are a root crop.   Non-organic pesticide is stored in the roots of the plants heavily!   

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