To ensure healthy chemical free potatoes for the whole family it is best to grow potatoes from home in a backyard potato garden. To get started is surprisingly easy and requires little maintenance until harvest.
Potato gardens can be an extremely beneficial hobby but do come with a small price. Of all types of gardens potato gardens require at least three separate planting locations and an additional amount of garden space, if farmers want to grow them every year. This is because after a potato harvest the soil in that area will need time to recuperate, replenish, and rebalance its pH levels for another potato harvest to thrive within it. Another common problem for potato garden farmers; all of the pests that are naturally attracted to the above and below ground portions of the plant. However, despite these two issues growing potatoes from home is the best way for any family to ensure that their potatoes are healthy to eat and don’t have all of the added chemicals that can be found in store bought potatoes.
Potatoes require a lot of sunlight in order to grow to their fullest potential. This is because potatoes grow mostly underneath the soil which also makes it hard for farmers to estimate the size of their crop prior to harvest. Due to the fact that potatoes grow underneath the soil it is very important to ensure that the garden the potatoes are planted in has freshly churned soil. Doing so will ensure proper photosynthesis as well as the freshly churned soil will make it even easier for the roots to lengthen. The pH balance of the soil that is needed for a potato garden can range in the acidic levels between 5.8 and 6.5. However, potatoes are extremely adaptable and can grow surprisingly well in soil with a low pH balance as well as soil with a high pH balance.
The growth phase, or days to harvest, generally lasts between 2 and 4 months or 60 to 120 days depending on the time they were first planted. Because they require so much sunlight it is best to plant the potatoes in mid to late spring or as late as the beginning of June to ensure a proper amount of time for growth. Before planting be sure that the potato garden consists of trenches that are 3 ½ to 4 ½ inches deep in rows roughly 28 to 34 inches apart with about 9 to 12 inches of space in between each one.
Maintaining Pest Control
During the potato garden’s vegetative stage a lot of different types of pests and bugs will be attracted to the above ground portion of the plant. As well as many mites and worms will be attracted to the potatoes as they grow underneath the ground. Of all these critters the Colorado Potato Beetle is the most notorious and the one to watch out for. In order to ensure proper pest control however it is important to keep an eye out for indications of bug infestations early in the planting season. Both above ground and soil based pesticides are safe to use as long as a proper flushing phase is cycled in at least two weeks prior to harvest to ensure the potatoes have been rid of pesticides before they are eaten.
For weed control however chemicals are not recommended. Instead constant cultivation is recommended to ensure that surrounding weeds do not suffocate the potato plants and garden.
The above ground portion of the plant will grow about a foot in height before the potatoes are ready to be harvested. It is generally best to wait until the majority of the above ground leaves have died off before harvesting the entire potato garden. However, it is safe to dig up a few potatoes here and there a few weeks prior to this to gain an estimate as to the size of the potatoes and their readiness.
It is important to note that if harvesting the potatoes in weather with a temperature above 80 degrees the potatoes will need to be immediately picked and stored in a cool dark area to ensure they do not rot. The general time for harvest is about two weeks after the majority of the above ground plants have begun to die off. A hand shovel can be used or the potatoes can be easily dug up with hands but be sure to turn the soil while doing so. For proper storage keep the potatoes in a room with a temperature ranging between 60 and 65 degrees for roughly 10 days in order to cure the potatoes. After the 10 days, keep the potatoes in a dark room with a temperature ranging between 40 and 45 degrees. This should help ensure that the potatoes will last for much longer without sprouting.
A wide variety of potatoes can be chosen from to grow at home. With enough room small potato gardens can even be kept inside if already indoor gardening preparations have been made. However, with enough room outside an entire family can grow and store enough potatoes to last for several months reducing the need to grow and harvest potatoes annually. If potato gardens are an interest for the entire family than begin by separating three different locations in which a new potato garden can be resurrected each year.
“Growing Potatoes in the Home Garden.” By E.C. Wittmeyer, Marianne Riofrio, and Mark Bennet. Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Sciences