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The Right Way to Grow Potatoes?

July 25, 2010

I’ve been trying to follow “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” as closely as possible since this is my first time growing veggies and I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing.  All the veggies are growing according to Mr. Smith’s instructions, except for the potatoes.  I remember learning in elementary school that all you had to do to grow potatoes was to cut a piece that had an “eye” on it, put it in the ground, and out would come more potatoes. Not that I’ve ever actually tried it.  Until this year!

Smith’s Gardener’s Bible is very clear when it tells you NOT to use potatoes from the store.  You should be purchasing and planting seed potatoes, which are grown specifically for planting.  Market potatoes are typically sprayed with a chemical to inhibit sprouting.  By planting store bought potatoes, you also run the risk of potato diseases.  Well, by the time I got around to planting the potato portion of the garden, I had already ordered all of my seeds and I couldn’t figure out where to get seed potatoes from a local store.  Instead, I went with my grade school lessons, and used organic red potatoes from the store.

In mid March, I cut each potato into thirds, making sure that each piece had at least 2 eyes, then planted them 1 foot apart in a shallow trench, 3″ to 4″ deep.  As the potato sections sent up green shoots, I created mulch hills around each of the plants (every foot and a half of growth).  Hilling keeps soil moisture even, and keeps the potatoes from poking up from the ground to be exposed to the sun – which can turn them green.

It’s now the end of July, and 1 out of the 4 plants have finally dried up and died down.  Sticking my hands in the dirt to feel around for taters is one of the most fun things I’ve done with the garden so far.  The picture above shows you what I was able to get from 1/3 of a potato.  I’m super excited that this worked out!

Also, the tomatoes are growing at a rate that gives me 3 to 4 a day.  I hope this keeps up for a few more weeks!

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