Why grow potatoes when they are so cheep at the supper market?? Have you ever tried home grown potatoes? Just like so many of the vegetables that we grow in our gardens, they taste fresher and more flavorful than those we find at the grocery store.
So why start with potatoes from the grocery store? You can usually find "seed potatoes"in a good catalog but the prices tend to be outrageous, and then add shipping on top of that! Some garden supply shops also carry seed potatoes, but if you live in an area where potatoes are not a commercial crop, the prices you find will probably be too excessive. Most gardeners have difficulty paying more for seed potatoes than it would cost to purchase the expected yield of those seed potatoes in the store.
Out of sheer frustration we purchased organic potatoes and planted them in the ground. The results? Exactly what the catalogs promised we would achieve using there seed.
In our next edition we will show you how it is done.
To start pick fresh healthy potatoes. It is best to purchase them from an organic grocery store as this helps to insure that they have not been treated with chemicals to retard the potatoe's abillity to sprout. If you can find small or "baby potatoes" select these as they are virtually seed potatoes. While larger potatoes work fine, the small potatoes do not need to be cut up so they are less seceptable to desese or rotting when they are planted.
Potatoes are a cool weather plant so plant them in the early spring. If you live in a warm clinmate you can plant for a fall crop as well..
Place the whole potatoes in a cool but sunny spot for a few days before planting as this will alow them to develop some chlorophyl, giving them extra energy to use when they are planted and thus expediting thier growth.
Prepare the soil in raised beds by double digging. Use compost to fertalize the soil and to improve its texture. Potatoes thrive in rich moist (not Soggy) soil full of organic material but will also do well in less fertil and slightly dry soil. They do not grow well when the soil is hard and compact or when the soil is very dry or soggy. They will rot if they are left in soggy soil so that is why raised bedds are best
Plant the potatoes about 6 to 8 inches deep and about one and a half feet a part in all directions. Keep the soil lightly moist. They are slightly frost tolerent so do not worry if you have a freeze. If a late freeze is a concern when the leaves are already above ground, simply cover the leaves with a little earth or straw. The plants will grow through this layer of earth in a few days, or the straw can be carefully removed.