So I went into my little potato bin to pull out some taters to make hash browns for dinner and low and behold! I have the beginning of spuds growing from my spuds! I love my organic potatoes, but man they like to grow fast! So instead of chucking them into the composter, I decided: why not try my hand at growing potatoes? After a bit of research, it seems like there could be nothing easier! Sounds like a perfect project for me and my little helper. So today I will talk about how to plant potatoes and why you should.
First off, the why. Out of all the pesticide laden foods out there, potatoes are part of the “Dirty Dozen.” They are in the top twelve of all fruits and veggies that are heavily sprayed with pesticides. And if you’re like me, I like to leave the skins on (ain’t nobody got time for peeling potatoes) for some extra fibre. Wouldn’t you know, thats where the pesticides like to hang out most? So I buy organic. Organic potatoes are around two to three bucks more a bag over “regular” potatoes. Also the bags are smaller. So all-in-all, you pay a lot more. So why not save some money and grow your own? You don’t have to have a huge garden to grow them either. I am growing ours in some 20 gallon buckets. You can even grow them on an apartment balcony! Easy peasy!
Now the how! If you don’t have sprouting spuds, you can buy seeding potatoes. These ones are considered to be better by some gardeners, as they are guaranteed disease free and to have the highest yield. Just double check that they are organic, if that is what you are going for. If you are planning on using potatoes you have already bought, they have to be organic. Non-organic potatoes have a “sprout inhibitor” sprayed on the so they last longer on the shelves. I was very excited to recycle my sprouts into potatoes. Let’s hope it works!
I didn’t get a chance to get to the store, so I decided to just use things I had on hand. I had just washed out the 10 gallon buckets after maple syrup season and decided they would work for potatoes too! You could use pretty planters to keep on your porch, or plant in a garden bed as well. Whatever works for you. As with all plants, drainage is important! Have you ever spent all summer growing a plant in a pot, only to have a heavy rainfall on the only weekend you went away and come home to find your plant drowned and dead?! Its heart breaking! It was my first tomato plant and I was devastated. So DRAINAGE! Drainage is key! You can drill some holes in your bucket, or put a layer of rocks in the bottom. I chose rocks. I wanted to keep the buckets in tact so I can use them next maple season. Another bright side of having a gravel driveway? You always have rocks for potting plants! If you don’t have a gravel driveway, you can find rocks just about anywhere. Side of the road. Local forest. Neighbour’s driveway. Hardware store, etc. So the little helper and I collected rocks from the driveway and filled the bottom of the buckets. Just enough to cover the bottom, about an inch or two depending on how big your pebbles are. Once you finish that, time to add some dirt! Little helper loveeessss her some dirt! It is best to add some compost or fertilizer to your garden soil. You want the soil damp and fluffy.
Next step, plant your potatoes! I used whole potatoes, some people will cut the potatoes into pieces. Im just lazy. Either way, you will grow potatoes. Next step, find the eyes of your potatoes. They look like where sprouts would come out of but there are two next to each other and they have no sprouts. Point the eyes up! Then cover your taters with more dirt and compost/ fertilizer mix and you’re off to the races! Water when soil is dry. Make sure you don’t forget as plants in pots dry out faster. If it is super hot out, you can move your pots to a shaded area. Once your tater plants are 4”-6” high, you have to start mounding. Mounding is adding 2” or so of soil and compost/ fertilizer mix to the base of the plant. You keep adding as the plant grows, until you reach the top of your pot.
After about 70-120 days, your potatoes are ready to harvest! It is best to wait until the tops of your potatoes vines have begun to die. Then the potatoes are fully mature. The best part about growing potatoes in buckets is all you have to do to harvest is dump the bucket out! Pick and clean your potatoes and you’re rolling in taters!
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Have you ever grown potatoes yourself? Share your story in the comments below.