Potatoes are best grown in a larger garden. They are one of the least expensive varieties of produce but they are fun to grow. We can not prove it but home grown potatoes seem to taste better than store bought. There are almost as many growing techniques for potatoes as there are gardeners.We put forth two different methods used with great success by a couple of gardeners we know.
The traditional way is to till the soil to a depth of at least twelve inches. Loosen clay soil and make as friable as possible with Nature’s Guide Expanded Shale or Nature’s Guide Shale and Compost. In sandy soil add plenty of compost, Nature’s Guide Organic Compost and Nature’s Guide Lava Sand to improve moisture holding and add nutrients.
Buy only certified seed potatoes. We prefer the whole potatoes. The “potato seed” are sold in packages have been treated with chemical fungicides to keep them from rotting. Certified seed potatoes are been selected for growing and not treated with an anti-sprouting solution like commercial potatoes.
Cut each potato into four pieces. You can cut them up more, but make sure each piece has several “eyes” from which the new plants will sprout. Allow the cut surfaces to dry for 24 hours to prevent rotting. Natural starches in the potato will dry to form a “scab” that will protect the tender inside.
Nestle the cut pieces in the top inch of soil about six to eight inches apart with rows about three feet apart on centers. Rake on inward on both sides to cover the seed with an additional two inches of soil to form a raised row with trenches in between.
As the plants grow, fill the trenches with compost and water between the rows. The soil will wick up the moisture. The compost in between the rows will hold moisture and release it to the soil and keep the soil in the rows from compacting making it easy for potatoes to form.
As weather warms, dust with Nature’s Guide Diatomaceous Earth. It is effective in controlling the Colorado Potato Beetle. These voracious little beetles can devastate a stand of potato plants practically over night. Nature’s Guide Diatomaceous Earth works by destroying the waxy coating of the beetle’s shell and is more effective than most toxic insecticides.
Eighty to ninety days after planting ( Valentine’s Day, February 14, is the normal planting time in most of Texas), dig up one of the plants and see how the potatoes have developed. If you are planting red potatoes for new potatoes test them at about sixty-five days. When the size is to your liking finish the harvest. Dig carefully, it is frustrating to ruin a beautiful potato with the spading fork! Store harvested potatoes in a cool dry place.
One very grower swears by his method. His soil is well prepared with plenty of compost mixed in with the tiller. He makes rows seven to eight inches deep. The seed are placed about six to eight inches apart and covered with three inches of soil. After watering or a heavy rain he covers any exposed potatoes with fresh soil. When the plants reach a height of eight inches he covers up to the first branches with compost. He follows this procedure as the plants continue to grow until they reach soil level. He swears that the addition of fresh compost has eliminated insect pests especially Colorado Potato Beetles. The compost keeps the soil loose and making harvesting less strenuous.
Another grower makes rows about three inches deep and plants the seed potatoes four to six inches apart. As the plants grow he applies salt marsh hay or a substitute around the base of the plants. He uses Nature’s Guide Diatomaceous Earth to control of Colorado Potato Beetles and aphids. He claims the potatoes grow on the surface under the hay. To harvest he rakes the hay away and simply picks the potatoes off the ground. Residual hay is removed and added to the compost.