Potatoes are one of the most eaten and enjoyed vegetables in the USA. Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber and pantothenic acid. The problem with store-bought potatoes? Regular ole’ potatoes from the grocery store are chocked full of heavily sprayed pesticides, 35 different pesticides for that matter… And out of these 35, 6 are known or probably carcinogens, 12 are suspected hormone disruptors, 7 are neuro-toxins, 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins! Yikes!!!
Never-fear, the good news is that they are easy to grow and can be grown in a small space with an excellent yield. So let’s get on with it!
Potatoes are grown from pieces of potato, about the size of a golf ball, with at least one eye in the potato piece. For larger tubers, this means cutting the potatoes into golf ball sized pieces. You can “chit” (allowing the buds to grow before planting) your seed potatoes by placing your seed potatoes in a well-ventilated, cool, place in a paper grocery bag for a couple of days. Plant your seed potatoes 2-3 weeks before your last frost date.
Prepare your potato bed in a 5 Gallon bucket with drainage holes at the bottom, or a large pot or a barrel or a potato bed with 6″ of soil. You will be going vertical with your potatoes, to give you a larger yield, so the size of your container doesn’t limit your yield as much as you think it would. Sow seed potatoes in soil that is 45o F at 3-4” depth and about 6″ a part. For example, in a 5 Gallon bucket, start with 3 seed potatoes. Hill the soil over the seed potatoes, covering the potato pieces with 3-4″ of soil.
Potatoes like loose, nutrient rich soil. Drainage is essential for healthy growth. Water potatoes daily for a good yield. When the plants are about 4″ tall, add about 1″ of compost and 2″ of straw. Repeat this process as the plants grow, then roots and more potato tubers will form from the buried stem. This is how you grow potatoes vertically. Potatoes must always be covered with soil-otherwise they’ll turn green. Green potatoes are not good…
After 2 months, you may harvest young or “new potatoes by feeling around in the soil. For large, store-able potatoes, harvest your potatoes when the plant turns dry, crunchy, brown-yellow, and is dying back. Dump out the bucket, pot or barrel, revealing your stash of beautiful potatoes. If you planted your potatoes in a bed, use a pitch fork to lift the potatoes out. Brush the soil gently off of the potatoes. DO NOT WASH your potatoes. Cure your potatoes for long term storage for two weeks in a humid, cool (55o F) place. Then put in your cellar with straw between layers for eating year-round.