Choose organic seed potatoes, don’t plant potatoes that you’ve purchased from the market even if they have sprouts. They won’t perform well in the garden and you’ll be disappointed. Buy certified organic see potatoes from a reputable nursery. In LA check out Two Dog Nursery, http://www.twodognursery.com/ or by mail, Peaceful Valley Farm, https://www.groworganic.com/
Pre-spouted potatoes will grow faster and you’ll be able to pick potatoes about a month earlier. Growing potatoes is SO easy! You can grow in Smart Pots, the easiest in my opinion, or in the ground.
To pre-sprout the potatoes, put them in a paper bag or lay them out singly in a warm room. If they are larger than a couple of inches I cut them into pieces with each piece having 2 or more ‘eyes’ and let them dry out of the sun for a couple of days. Potatoes like sandy, loose soil so if that’s not the kind of soil you find in your garden a Smart Pot is the way to go, it also makes harvesting easier. If you are planting right in the ground, make a furrow about 3” deep and plant the seed potato eyes up, cover with soil and plant the next potato seed about 2’ away. As the potatoes sprout and grow keep covering the plant with loose soil or straw leaving about 3” exposed. The new potatoes grow on top of the seed potato, keep the soil moist but not wet and keep ‘hilling’ the plant until it’s about 10 – 12” tall. Fertilize with a general organic gardening fertilizer such as EB Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food, 4-5-3.
Harvest potatoes in about 60 days after the blooms start to die back. Stop watering and leave the potatoes in the ground, covered with soil or straw to prevent greening (don’t eat a green potato), to set the skin. Fresh potatoes have a very thin, delicate skin so if you’re planning on storing any of them you’ll want it to ‘toughen’ up a little. If you’re growing in a Smart Pot after you’ve toughened up the skin, just dump the pot out in the garden and collect all your potato gems! Start each season with fresh new seed potatoes. In California you can grow potatoes in spring and in fall, yippee for California!
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