When you are planning your veggie garden, be sure to prepare seed potatoes to plant. Potatoes are simple to grow and are easy to store year round.
There are several varieties of potatoes, so you’ll need to determine what your cooking needs are. Some potatoes are better for frying, some are better for baking, and some are better for boiling.
When choosing seeds, it is best if they are certified seed potatoes. This means there are no insects or diseases in the seed, and the seed has not been sprayed with a growth retardant. Check your local garden center or nursery as they generally have certified seed potatoes in the spring. You can also use any regular old kitchen potatoes once they've started to sprout.
3 Steps to Prepare Seed Potatoes for Planting
Slice - Cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Make sure each piece has at least one “eye” on it because the eye is the point where the new plant will grow. There can be more than one eye on the piece, but be careful about having more than 2 or 3. If there are multiple eyes, they will grow together and you will not get optimal results. If the potatoes are small, you can plant the entire potato without cutting it.
Dry - Allow these pieces to dry for 24 hours to help the seed resist disease. You can also put sulfur powder on the pieces, which will keep fungus from growing on them. The easiest way to do this is by putting the pieces in a bag with a little bit of the sulfur powder and shaking the bag until the pieces are coated.
Aerate Soil - Prepare the soil by tilling the area lightly and making sure it well drained. Potatoes will grow in almost any type of soil so you don’t have to put a lot of effort in soil preparation. It does help if you add some peat moss or compost, or even a 5-10-10 fertilizer.
Different Ways to Plant Your Seed Potatoes
You don’t need to plant the potato seeds in trenches or mounds. Simply press the potato seed into the soil with the eye facing up and cover it with an inch of soil. If you want to grow your potatoes in a mound, put three or four pieces of potato in a mound of soil. You can also grow your potatoes in mounds of straw or mulch.
There are a couple of trick to growing potatoes. One trick is to continue to cover the sprouts as they grow, either with dirt or mulch. Another trick is in watering potatoes. If you over-water, you will get black or hollow centers. If you don’t water regularly, you will get funny shaped, knobby potatoes. The general rule is to water the potatoes well once a week during the hot summer months.
Potatoes are a hardy root vegetable, and can be left in the ground during the winter if they are properly covered with plastic, straw, or even old tires so they don’t freeze. They will also store well in a cool, dry environment, so your home-grown potatoes can be enjoyed all year long.