How To Grow Potatoes:
by Dan Lake, Peaceful Valley employee
Since I was 12 years old, my family has grown about 4 or 5 different varieties of potatoes in our garden at home every year. I would love to brag about my tater planting abilities, and with all of that experience one would think that I was a spud-growing expert, but after reflecting on what I knew, I came to a different conclusion: I devoted most of my time to harvesting and eating the delicious potatoes and have a lot to learn about the process of planting them!
Now that I have my own garden, I’ve done some research, talked to a friend who happens to be a farmer, and compiled some good tips below.
Crop Rotation: When planting potatoes from season to season, they should be kept on a 3-year rotating cycle in terms of location in your garden. This means, 3-4 suitable sites are needed if you want to grow potatoes every year, rotating the site where you plant every season.
Soil & Sun: When it comes to soil, potatoes are not picky. They are adaptable and will usually produce a decent crop even when the soil conditions are less than perfect. What they do require, however, is as much sun as possible because of how aggressive their root systems are, so keep that in mind when picking your spot(s) to plant.
Preparing Seed Potatoes: When you have your seed potatoes (potatoes certified for growing), set them somewhere where they will be exposed to light and warmth (between 60 and 70F). This will help them to start sprouting. A day or two before planting, use a clean knife to slice the larger potatoes into smaller pieces that contain at least 1 or 2 “eyes” or buds. Each seed should be approximately 1 1/2-2 inches square, and the smaller potatoes may be planted whole. In the next day or so, your seed potato pieces will form thick calluses over the cuts, to help prevent it from rotting once planted.
Planting Seed Potatoes: After you have trenched a 4’” deep furrow, plant the seed potato pieces or small potatoes 4” deep in the furrow about 12” apart and cover lightly with soil. The soil should be evenly moist, but not wet or soggy. If the soil is water logged when you dig, your seed potatoes will probably rot before they even get started. Depending on how cold it gets in your area, it might be a good idea to put a layer of mulch or straw on top of the furrow for a little extra frost protection. Two to four months later, I hope you will be enjoying some of the most delicious potatoes ever!
You can also reference our Potato Planting & Growing Guide online.