Growing potatoes is enjoyable and interesting. Freshly harvested potatoes are immensely tasteful. This is one of the most popular vegetable crop to grow at home with minimum investment.
Potatoes can be cooked, fried, mashed or baked for consumption.
Selecting Seed Potatoes:
Seed potatoes are required to grow potato plants. They are not actually the seeds but they are small potatoes with sprouts which later germinates into plants.
Certified seeds must be used for growing plants. Thereby we can assure that potatoes are free from diseases. The seed potato must be in the size of egg for better results. It’s better to look for those that are showing sign of budding.
You can grow potatoes even from the seeds that are available in market. But be conscious because they may be not free from diseases and they may cause infections to other potato plants.
Some super markets spray toxic chemicals on them to prevent the sprout growth. When these type of potatoes are used for growing they become rotten and attracts many harmful microbes.
Sometimes you may get larger sized potato seeds. So, carefully cut the potato such that each cut piece consists of buds.
Plant these pieces of potatoes in the soil so that, the buds on it gets germinated into new plant. The potatoes are planted in a way that their bud germinates and grows in the upward direction.
Keep the cut piece in cool and dry place for 1 to 2 days. So that, cut side becomes dry, forms a protective membrane and doesn’t rot.
You need to buy seed potatoes only once. For next crop you can select them from your previous harvest.
- Chitting is optional. If your weather and soil is not warm enough to grow potatoes then chitting should be done. It gives head start for potatoes to grow.
- Take the seed potato and determine which side has more buds(sprouts). Selected side should have minimum 5 buds.
- After selecting the side, remove all the buds in other directions.
- The selected side is designated as the top. So that, the buds grows in upward direction.
- Now keep the potato seeds in shallow boxes or egg carton and place them near windows or outside. This aids in development of healthy sprouts.
- Do not place them in dark areas since there will be a development of weak, long and messy white sprouts.
- After a period of time potato starts developing roots then they should be placed in soil.
Potato buds, stems, leaves are toxic. So, do not touch them with your bare hands.
- If your planted potato seed consists of more buds then grown plants gives more potatoes but small ones.
- If your planted potato seed consists of less number of buds then grown potato plant give less number of potatoes but big ones.
Growing Potato in Pots and Bags:
- Potato grows easily in containers.
- You can use any type of container if it is large enough to provide space for potatoes to grow and have a proper drainage to drain out excess amount of water.
Its better to grow potatoes in potato bag. They are easy to move. And they can accommodate 3-5 potatoes based on the size.
Fill the two third of bag with soil. The potatoes must be placed 2-3 inches deep in the soil in a way that the buds are facing in the upward direction.
Water it well. When sprouts are observed then fill three fourth of the bag with soil.
Proper space must be maintained so that, air can flow around the leaves. This helps in prevention of fungal and blight infections.
If you don’t use potato bags and you are using containers you should drill drain holes for proper drainage system and you should plant only 1 potato seed in a container. Harvest must be done with care. If you are using potato bags just pour the bag out on to water proof material like tarpaulin. Then remove the roots of potatoes.
Potato needs at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
- They can grow in any type of soil.
- Best results are observed in well fertilized, well drained and slightly acidic soil whose pH is ranging between 5- 5.5.
- If your soil is slightly alkaline then add sulfur.
- Potato needs a lot of nutrition to grow.
- When you are growing potatoes in containers, add a layer of compost deep in the soil before planting to give a head start to your seed.
- Dilute your liquid fertilizer before applying. Be conscious because higher concentrations may leads to death in plants.
- Its better to use natural fertilizers like comfrey tea. Because chemical fertilizers kills useful bacteria.
- Its better to use tomato food fertilizer when compared to chemical fertilizers.
- Some nitrogen rich fertilizers promote the leaf growth rather than tuber growth.
- When you are growing in container the nutrients gets drains up very quickly. So, provide compost and fertilizers for every 5-6 days.
Check Out: 13 Simple DIY Organic Fertilizer Recipes
- Lack of proper watering causes problem in tuber development which results in smaller sized potatoes.
- Potato is deep root vegetable. Therefore, watering at the top surface doesn’t help.
- Water should go to bottom levels and reach the tubers. Drill the drain holes at the bottom levels to prevent water stagnation.
- Water on leaves encourages the fungal infection. So avoid watering on leaves.
- Prevent watering in the evening because water cannot be dried during nights.
Check Out: How To Water Your Potted Plants
- Cover the soil with dried leaves, dried twigs when you are especially growing in containers.
- It acts as an insulation and prevents the water loss from soil due to evaporation.
- The leaves above the ground will start turning into yellow, becomes limp, dries out, turns into brown and gets ready to die.
- This is the sign that the potatoes are ready for harvest.
- It depends on the time you planted. In some potato varieties harvesting is carried out after flowering.
- It also depends on the type of potato you have planted, climatic and soil conditions.
- Potato leaves are not used for composting. Clear the dry twigs and leaves if you use them as an insulation.
- Harvesting potatoes from pots is very easy. Empty the pot by dropping the soil on tarpaulin cover, then use your hand fork to look out potatoes in the soil.
Storing Your Harvested Potatoes:
- You should not store the damaged potatoes.
- They should be stored in cool, dark and dry place with proper air circulation.
- Do not place them in sunlight prone region because it turns potatoes into green shade.
- Don’t wash the potato after harvest just remove the left over soil on it.
- Don’t put them in refrigerator because their properties may change.
- Don’t store them in air tight containers and plastic containers because it results in the formation of moisture which leads to the growth of fungus.
- Store them in card board boxes or baskets or jute bags or paper bags.
- Do not store them with onions. because it makes potatoes to rot.