Let’s Plant Potatoes in the Garden - Page 2
Depending on the warmth of the soil, potato plants will begin to emerge from the soil anywhere from one to three weeks after planting. When the plants are about a foot tall, use your hoe to mound six to eight inches of soil continuously along the entire row of plants. This is called hilling. Hilling ensures that the potatoes will grow deeply under the soil, away from sunlight which would cause them to become green. Potatoes that suffer from greening will be bitter and the inedible green parts must be discarded.
Keep the potato plants evenly watered while they are growing. A dry period followed by a rainy spell will cause some potato varieties to develop a hollow core. Yukon Gold potatoes seem to be especially prone to this problem.
Another potential problem with potatoes is the potato beetle. The larvae and adult beetles will feed on the potato foliage, and a heavy infestation can damage the foliage enough to reduce your harvest considerably. Watch for the beetle’s yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves and crush the clusters whenever you see them. Larvae are a deep orange color with a row of black spots on both sides, while the adults are a paler orange with black stripes on the body and black spots on the head. The larvae and adults can be picked off the leaves and crushed if there are only a few. An infestation can also be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Bt is an organic control that is very safe to use. Look for Bt that is specifically for potato beetles. It is sold in many garden catalogs and garden centers.
Once your potato plants have bloomed, you can begin to harvest small “new” potatoes. Depending on the variety of potatoes you’re growing, this is about eight weeks after planting. In the fall, after the foliage has begun to dry and die back, the entire crop can be dug. Before storing them in a cool, dry and dark place, make sure the surface of your freshly dug spuds has dried a bit. Spread them out in a dry spot out of direct sun, such as a garage or shed, for a day or two before putting them in storage.
Freshly dug, crisp potatoes taste better than any you’ll buy at a grocery store. Grow some yourself and discover how easy and fun it is to produce a staple crop of delicious potatoes for your family.
Kathy Anderson has been an avid gardener for many years and has grown tomatoes by the acre, along with many other vegetables, flowers and landscape plants. Kathy recommends http://www.freeplants.com as a great place to learn more about gardening. Article provided by http://gardening-articles.com.