Without a doubt, potatoes are included among some of our most-loved vegetables for growing. Not much compares to that satisfying unearthing of tantalizing tubers, right? Of course, there are multiple ways to grow the vegetable and each method comes with a set of unique benefits and drawbacks.
A Guide to Growing Potatoes
1. Traditional Rows
The traditional method of potato farming is arguably one of of the most productive. Potatoes plants and grown in parallel rows to facilitate the earthing up process. The crops are grown utilizing a mixture of nutrients from surrounding organic matters, including dried leaves, grass clippings, and well-rotted manure.
It’s vital that you sprout seed potatoes in a cool, airy environment prior to planting in a bid to provide them the best start in life and promote larger crop yield. Plant them in a spot flooded with sunshine and into nutrient-enriched soil with a high organic matter content.
You might also mix in some chicken manure granules or slow-release organic fertilizer pellets into the base soil level inside the planting trench. Organic nutrients are vital for the nourishment of growing plants. You can learn more here on the nutrients needed.
Planting potatoes in parallel, horizontal trenches is the traditional farming method, but it’s far from the only way to cultivate great spuds. Plant potato plant seedlings around 30cm apart, in rows approximately 60cm apart, subject to the variety. Ensure that the shoots are oriented upwards. If the soil is loose, it will be much easier to dig a small hole for each individual seed potato.
The earthing up process ensures there is sufficient organic matter surrounding plant roots for optimized tubular growth. What’s more, aerated soil prevents mold from infecting surface growth. Begin the earthing-up process once shoots are around ankle height and continue plowing the area in tri-weekly intervals until the foliage has bushed out and filled the spaces between rows or until earthing up is no longer possible.
3. No-Dig Potato Planting
A twist on the traditional potato planting methods is to utilize a no-till method. You simply place sprouted potatoes on the soil surface before loosely covering them with a shallow layer of compost, straw, dried leaves or hay. If you plan to use straw or hay, ensure that your source can guarantee zero herbicide residue.
An alternative way to plant potatoes is to distribute them over the soil surface and proceed with mulching. You basically nestle the potatoes into a bed of fertile soil and cover with deep layers of organic matter exceeding 20cm in thickness. If you use hay or straw, you will need to weight the materials down to begin with – tree branches and sticks tend to work well. Once the hay has settled, however, you need to focus on cultivating a mat of organic matter that prevents weed growth while keeping potato seedling roots cool. Sprouting potatoes are extremely robust and the shoots will have no issue pushing through densely packed organic matter. You don’t need to hill. When potatoes are ready, all you need to do is to pull back the semi-decomposed organic matter to unveil dozens of valuable tubers.
5. Super Early Potatoes
What’s not to love about cheating seasons when it comes to vegetable farming? Really, who doesn’t want a super-early crop? With the right tunnel, greenhouse or cold frame, you can control harvesting time.
Set your seed potatoes in over-sized sacks or tubs. That way, they will be ready for planting within three weeks, which is sooner than when they would be ready if they were incubated outside. You need to guarantee safety from frost. Choose early potatoes varieties if you want to experiment with extra early harvests.
When you opt to grow potatoes in sacks or containers, you can enjoy late and early crops. Put the sproutlings into a 10cm layer of potting compost and cover to an equal depth. Potatoes grown in pots can be easily earthed up – simply add more fertile soil each time the foliage exceeds 15cm in height and continue until sack height is achieved.
When the outside climate is warm enough, you can relocate sacks to the outdoors to complete the growing cycle. This method is best suited for cooler climates in which roots are unlikely to overheat. If roots get too hot, no tubers will be produced.
7. Winter Home-Grown Potatoes
When you grow potatoes in sacks or containers, you can generate a harvest outside of conventional growing seasons. For a late fall harvest, plant early varieties in late summer and bring them indoors as temperatures plummet and frost sets in. Doing so will ensure you can benefit from a late crop throughout fall.
In milder climates, it’s possible to enjoy potato harvests year-round. Choose a maincrop variety for planting in the late spring. When the foliage begins to die back, trim stems to ground level and allow for natural growth. Then, simply dig up your potatoes at a convenient time. Unharvested potatoes can remain well-preserved underground for many months.
All your hard work will pay off when harvesting season arrives for your potatoes! Late potatoes, early potatoes, or simply an abundance of potatoes – I hope you took a few ideas from this article to get you started. If you experiment with different potato growing methods, be sure to share your findings in the comments section down below. With spring fast approaching, let’s all embrace this year’s growing season with passion.