Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Potato preparation and planting

Growing potatoes is a fun and easy activity and especially great to get kids involved with. It is so cool to see the eyes developing and cut up a single potato into 10 new chunks that will each become a potato plant that will grow several new potatoes.

These potatoes are a little over developed but with careful handling (not to damage the growth that has already occurred) they will make great new starts. Make sure that each chunk has at least one eye for roots and stems to sprout from.

We cut the potatoes into chunks, anywhere between 5-12 pieces per potato, and then spread them out on pans to dry a little.

The potato chunks need to harden off for two days in a cool dry place before planting.

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Throughout Spring I have been turning the soil over with a shovel to kill weeds and to mix the dirt with last years hay creating a good bed for the potatoes to grow.

Potatoes ready to plant after drying indoors for 2 days.

To plant the potato starts we just spread them out about 8" apart and covered them with just about 1/2" of dirt (enough to ensure good soil contact) and then covered them with 3-4" of hay. If you don't cover them with hay you would want to bury them about 2-3" deep.

The potatoes are in the middle wide row covered with fresh hay.

After we planted the potatoes we covered the bed with 3-4" of hay. This will keep the weeds down, keep animals from finding the potatoes and keep the moisture high while they are growing and lessen watering needs all year. Last year with 4" of hay I did not have to water our potatoes at all, and we had a great crop.

Our harvest from Fall 2009. It is so fun for the kids to see the fruits of their labor!

It is important to move your potatoes around from year to year so that you minimize the chance of disease. Also, you are not supposed to plant potatoes in a bed that had tomatoes the previous year as they both are affected by similar diseases.

Good Luck!

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