Hi I'm Tricia a California organic gardener. There are some major benefits to planting potatoes in your backyard. You can plant varieties that are hard to find or very expensive and you can harvest virtually all year long if you live in a climate like i do. The best way to plant potatoes is to start with certified seed potatoes. It's not a good idea to use the potatoes you find in the grocery store because they're not certified disease-free and sometimes they're treated to prevent sprouting. Notice these eyes, this is where the potatoes sprouts from.
First of all we need to cut up the potatoes, cut them into chunks with one to two eyes per chunk small potatoes like this little fingerling can be planted whole. So lay the potatoes out in a well ventilated area just for a couple of days so that they callus over. The potatoes should go from this look to this calloused over look and this will help prevent rot. Plant potatoes early in the season about four weeks before the last frost. The soil also needs to be at least forty degrees and potatoes can be fall planted after the first frost if they're protected from frost by a thick mulch. In addition to weed free soil, potatoes like sandy loamy soil with a low pH. There are many different ways to grow potatoes the only requirement in some way of burying them as they grow because as the tubers form they need protection from the light. These Smart Pots will help you achieve that as well as helping maintain the pH and make it a snap to harvest because all you have to do is pour the potatoes out when they're ready. You need about three gallons of soil for each potato that you plant so in this fifteen gallon Smart Pot you can plant five potatoes in a thirty gallon smart pot I could plant ten potatoes. Your soil mix should fill a third of the pot and should be a half and half mixture of compost and potting soil make sure and use green waste compost because animal manure can cause scab. Adding a little bit of fertilizer like this Acid mix will help lower the pH. So were going to plant the potatoes about one to two inches deep put the pieces of potato with the eyes facing up and as the potatoes grow i'm gonna add more of the compost mixture and be careful not to cover the top six inches of leaves.
If you want to plant your potatoes in your garden bed instead of in the pots amend the soil with an acidic fertilizer and plenty of compost. Since I'm doing a late fall planting i will dig out about an eight inch deep trench, plant potatoes about eight to nine inches apart with rows about three feet apart remember to plant with the eyes up. Cover the potatoes with about four inches of soil and then we're gonna mulch heavily, mulching will help protect from the frost. In the spring when the plants get to be about four to six inches tall you can start to hill them up. Heeling is important no matter how you plant your potatoes tubers exposed to sunlight turn green and form the toxic substances called solanine, never eat green potatoes. You can harvest the potatoes anytime after they flower but only harvest what you can eat because they won't keep. For winter storage potatoes allow the vines to be killed by frost or scythe them down and leave the bed unwatered for two weeks, the two weeks allows the skin to harden for storing, this reduces peeling and rot in storage. Use your hands to harvest a sharp tool will cut into the potatoes. Let them dry for a couple of days in a cool dark area like a garage and then there ready for winter storage. Potatoes originated in South America where there's over eight thousand varieties expand your palette from the Idaho Russet and grow organic for life!