How To Grow Potatoes in Your Backyard Garden

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Potatoes are one of those easy to grow vegetables that are a great choice for new gardeners. They are even one of the top vegetables to grow in a container garden. But if you are new to gardening you might be wondering how to grow potatoes in your garden.

Potatoes are one of those versatile garden staples that gardeners throw in the ground, in a bucket, a pot, or a growing bag, and get a good harvest out of their hard work.

In this post we go over the ins and outs on growing potatoes in your garden.

TL;DR of How To Grow Potatoes

  • Potato seeds are the best option for ensuring you get a potato plant without disease.
  • It is possible to grow potatoes from sprouting potatoes you got from the grocery store, organic is best.
  • Potatoes are a cooler weather crop.
  • To prevent possible frost damage wait until 2 weeks after your last frost date.
  • It’s best to grow in the ground by digging a trench about 4 inches deep. Plant potato seeds 12 inches apart.
  • Make sure your potatoes get 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
  • Once the leaves of the plant die off, remove the foliage, then 10 days later dig up your potatoes.

What is the easiest way to grow potatoes?

The easiest way to grow potatoes is to dig a shallow trench (about 4 inches deep). Add a small amount of compost at the bottom of your trench. Then plant your seed potatoes about 12 inches apart. If you want to have multiple rows of potatoes growing dig your trenches 2 to 3 feet apart.

Potatoes prefer soil that is on the acidic side, about pH 5.5 to 6.5.

The soil also needs to be well-drained. Potatoes stuck sitting in water that isn’t draining is going to not go well for getting a good potato harvest.

Can You Grow Potatoes In A Pot?

Potatoes can grow very well in a container garden.

It is best to use a growing bag for potatoes. But if that’s not available, just make sure that your container is well-drained.

I’ve even had a successful harvest of potatoes from a 5-gallon bucket.

How Much Sun Do Potato Plants Need?

When planning where to plant your potatoes you will want to make sure you pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.

Potato plants can grow up to 40 inches high, so make sure you don’t place them in an area that will drown out the light for smaller plants that are behind them.

What is the best time of year to plant potatoes?

Potatoes are one of those vegetables that prefer cooler weather. So this is one of the plants you will want to start earlier in your garden season. You can plant your potatoes 6 to 8 weeks before the average of the last frost date for your area. In some places, this might still be too early to be able to work the soil, if that is the case then plant your potatoes once you can work the soil.

If you get some early growth of your potato plant or a frost happens to come along late, after your potato plants start to grow, you will want to cover your potato plants. I have had a very late frost come and didn’t get the chance to cover my potato plants, and miraculously the plant just regrew its leaves and kept on growing. So not all is lost if a frost does catch you by surprise.

However, if you want to make sure you can avoid any frost damage, you can wait up to 2 weeks after your average frost date to plant your potatoes.

Using Seed Potatoes in Your Garden

You can buy seed potatoes that are just for growing new potato plants.

What Are Seed Potatoes?

While called seeds, seed potatoes are not seeds. They are potatoes that are grown to sprout so you can grow new potato plants.

Seed Potatoes for Planting.
Seed Potatoes for Planting.

Seed potatoes are not the same as potatoes that you buy. All seed potatoes are specifically selected as healthy and disease free, that way you can be sure to get a good potato plant, and a good yield from that plant.

Another benefit of using seed potatoes is that you get a chance to grow different varieties of potatoes than what is available at your local grocery store. Choosing a potato seed gives you choices of over 100 different varieties of potatoes.

How do you grow potatoes from a potato?

You might not have known that you can actually grow a potato from a potato.

In fact, if you were wondering “Can I grow a potato from store-bought potatoes?”, you might be surprised to learn that you can. Potatoes are one of those vegetables you can grow from kitchen scraps.

Organic potatoes are the best potatoes to try to grow from scraps. Since organic potatoes are not treated with chlorpropham, it is usually easier to get a new plant to sprout. I have had a lot of success growing new potato plants using organic potatoes that have sprouted. Non-organic potatoes have been hit or miss when it comes to getting a new potato plant from a sprouting potato.

So if you have some potatoes lying around that are starting to sprout, you can take a piece of that potato with the sprout and plant it in the ground. Within a few weeks, you will start to have a new potato plant growing.

However if you want to be certain you get a good harvest and get a new potato plant, it is best to use seed potatoes.

How many potatoes will I get from one plant?

If you have excellent growing conditions for your potato plant, you can get anywhere from 5 to 10 potatoes from each plant.

Watering Potato Plants

Potato plants need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

You might be able to get this from rain alone. But if not you can water your potato plants in-between rains.

Make sure that the soil your potatoes are in is well-drained. While potato plants need a good amount of water, potatoes sitting in water that is not draining are not good.

During the first month after planting your potatoes, water isn’t as important as it is from day 30 to day 90 of the potato plant growth. From day 30 to day 90 you need to be sure that you are watering the plant sufficiently. After this, the tops of the plant will begin yellow. At this point, you will still need to water the potatoes, but it isn’t as critical as before.

How do you know when your potatoes are ready to harvest?

Once the potato plant foliage has turned brown and died off, remove the foliage and leave the potatoes for 10 days. After 10 days harvest your potatoes. Make sure to not leave the potatoes in the ground longer or else they will start to rot.

You will want to let your potatoes dry if they were in wet soil when you dig them up at harvest. Just be sure not to leave them laying out in the sun too long after harvest or the potatoes will start to turn green.

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