Potato Planting Lesson (Plus Potato Recipes)
I know that buying potatoes in a grocery store is very affordable, however, nothing compares to the flavor of homegrown potatoes! Not to mention the fact that they will be healthier (no pesticides) and the joy that the growing process will bring to you.
Today I am sharing with you the easiest way to grow potatoes - in a compost pile. I have many compost piles in my yard - the kitchen waste compost has a special bin, but the grass clippings & fall leaves go into my potato growing compost section. (growing potatoes in last year's straw is also an option). By growing potatoes in a compost pile the "mounding" step that is required when growing in soil is eliminated.
There are 3 steps: preparing, planting & harvesting.
Prepare the Potatoes & the Ground
Have you ever noticed, when you buy a bag of potatoes in the grocery store - occasionally you will find an older potato that has a little bud or eye on it? - Well, this is the beginning of the potato plant. In the past I have planted "old" potatoes that I bought from the grocery store but I recommend buying "Seed Potatoes" from your local greenhouse or nursery instead. This year we bought three 5lb bags of three different varieties (Yukon Gold, Kennebec and Red Skin).
Preparing the Potatoes
Before planting your "seed potatoes" - you must first:
1. Place the seed potatoes in a paper bag and set them in a warm place (60 to 70 degrees F.) with lots of sunlight.
2. Keep them in this warm place for about 1 to 2 weeks or until you notice the "eyes" or "buds" sprouting (see the picture collage that says "Prepare").
3. Now you will need to cut each potato into "sets". Whenever you see an "eye" (or bud) - cut just below the eye (see that same picture collage above). Now I have 2 potato plants from 1 Seed Potato. From some of the larger potatoes you might get 3 or 4 plants. Continue cutting until you have completed the entire bag of seed potatoes.
4. Place these cut "sets" in an open and sunny area (NOT in the paper bag). Wait 2 more days before planting to allow the cut side to harden or "leather."
Preparing the Ground
We have two compost potato patches. Last year we made a raised compost potato patch but that is not necessary. Our first patch is simply a pile of leaves/grass from the previous fall season (it has been "wintered over"). Spread these seasoned composted leaves so that they create a level surface (it should be at least 6 inches deep). Now your "ground" (compost pile) is ready for planting.
After the potato seeds have been prepared - plant each prepared seed potato about 4 inches deep and about 6 to 10 inches apart (see picture collage above). Cover these seed potatoes with compost (or dirt) and water - it will take about 2 weeks before the plants start peeking through the compost. You might need to add more compost throughout the summer (last summer I did not add more compost & they did just fine, however the year before I did add extra - it just depends on the weather. If you start to see potatoes[not the plant but the actual potato] poking through the top then you will need to add more compost). Now it's up to the potato plant to grow.
NOTE: If you are planting in soil - then you will need to mound or plant them in hills/furrows.
How to harvest Potatoes: You can see the progression in the pictures above. The plants must be light brown in color and the stem should look dry before harvesting. First, using a potato pitch fork, dig about 6 inches away from the brown plant. Then gently push back on the handle of the pitch fork (therefore lifting the potatoes out of the soil/compost). And, the last step is the most fun - I get down on my hands and knees and dig for the delicious fresh treasure. Dust off the dirt and ENJOY!!
In the growing season of 2016 we grew many varieties: Red Skin potatoes, Yukon Gold, Kennebec, Russet & Blue Heirloom potatoes (click HERE to view more about the Blue potatoes). Please enjoy the following potato recipes.
(click on each title below to view the entire recipe/post)
Potato Bacon Spinach Chowder
Baked Potato Dinner - 4 Toppings
Making Real Mashed Potatoes
Layered Quiche Loaf with Mashed Potato Crust
Oktoberfest Kale & Potato Casserole
Leek & Potato Soup
German Vanilla/Chocolate Loaf Cake Made with Potato Flour
Ham, Asparagus & Potato Pancake Stacker
Cheesy Scalloped Ham & Potatoes Squared
Kale & Bacon Potato Patties