Potatoes will like a sunny spot with loose, well-draining soil so that the roots and tubers can develop. Potatoes do not need super-rich soil, some organic matter and a balanced pH will work fine. One potato can be sectioned into 2-5 plants depending on its size, smaller roots can be planted whole. Each section must have at least one healthy "eye" that remains intact. Space plants 12"-16" apart and in rows 24"-30" apart. Cut the seed potato 2-3 days prior to planting and store in a warm and humid location with good air circulation. This will force the potato to produce a powdery appearing surface with suberin which will help prevent rotting when planting.
– Dig a shallow 6" trench and plant the potatoes with their "eyes" facing up. Cover with 1"-2" of soil and continue to build soil up around the sides in "hills" as the potatoes grow. This keeps the soil loose for growth while preventing exposure to sunlight which creates solanine that turns potatoes green and somewhat toxic. Stop hilling up soil when the plant develops flowers and add a few inches of straw around the plants to help conserve moisture.
– Simply scatter the potatoes right on the soil and sprinkle 1"-2" of soil on top of them, adding more soil and mulch as the potatoes grow. This is not a good option if you have issues with rodents.
– Place about 6" of soil in the bottom of a container (tall planter or garbage can with small holes in the bottom for drainage), place plants inside and simply continue to add 1"-2" of soil and straw as they grow.
Harvest "new" potatoes within 100 days by gently digging around in the soil and feeling for good sized selections. Harvest "late/larger" potatoes in the fall when the leaves have died back. Use regular forks or small pointed shovels to dig out the potatoes being careful not to puncture them.
Curing and Storage
After harvesting leave potatoes out to dry and gently brush off any excess dirt. If possible, cure the potatoes for 1-2 weeks by keeping them in a dark location between 55-60 degrees with high humidity (90%). For winter storage keep them in a cool, 35-40 degrees, and dark location with moderate humidity and ventilation such as a root cellar or basement. If stored properly, potatoes can keep for up to 8 months.
Potato, Solanum tuberosum
Pollination, vegetative; Life Cycle, perennial grown as annual; Isolation Distance, n/a
Most potatoes are propagated from tubers to ensure continuity of specific varieties. Potatoes are inbreeding plants that sometimes produce a small, hard, green fruit. The seeds contained in the fruit are not true to type and in fact each individual seed produces a completely new variety. The potato "fruits" have a tendency to fall off a couple of months after they form, so keep an eye on them and try to collect them before this happens. Squeeze the seeds out of the fruit and into a jar and add water. Let ferment for 3 days before cleaning and drying well before storage.