What’s your favorite crop? Without a doubt mine is potatoes. They are easy to grow, they have very few issues with insect’s or disease and the yields can be very large. The potato rule is that every pound that is planted will yield from 5 to 10 pounds. Last year I harvested about 35 pounds of potatoes from the 5 pounds that I planted. Potatoes can grow in most soil types but prefer loose soil. As of this writing, we have Red Pontiac, White Kennebec, and Yukon Gold. I have grown all three but have had the best success with the Red Pontiac.
February is the start of potato planting season. I was told years ago to plant potatoes on Valentine’s night by the light of the moon. I have never been that dedicated but I try to get them planted around the second week in February. I try to grow my gardens as all-naturally as possible. If you are going the all-natural route, do your soil preparation and pre-plant fertilization 2 to 4 weeks prior to planting. If you are growing synthetically, shoot for 1 to 2 weeks out.
Potato picking and preparation is next on the list. How do you pick a good potato? You look it in the eyes. When you cut a potato for planting each piece should have at least 2 eyes. In a perfect world, I will cut potatoes 7 to 10 days before planting. Before planting some folks will soak the cut potatoes in water to help to sprout. To deter insects you may hear gardeners talk about rolling the potato pieces in powdered sulfur or wood ashes before planting. I have used a lot of different pre-plant methods for potatoes. They all have merit. Nowadays I cut them and put them in a dry paper bag for about 5 days before planting.
There are literally hundreds of ways to grow potatoes. In tires, burlap bags, pots, buckets, tubs and I’ve seen pictures of potatoes growing in an old boat. You can mound them, plant them in pits and in a trench. I like the trench method. Once the 6 to the 7-inch deep trench is dug I put enough bone meal in the bottom so I can’t see dirt. Then cover the bone meal with about .5 inch of dirt. You can also use soft rock phosphate, super phosphate, or triple super phosphate. By the book, potatoes are planted 12 to 16 inches apart. I plant them closer to 6 to 12 inches apart. Planting depth is 3 to 5 inches. As always follow label directions.
Learn more about planting potatoes from Texas A&M University here.