The Q&A Archives: Potatoes

Question: do potatoes plants always get flowers on them? I have about 10 plants that are about 14

Answer: Flowers are an indication that the plants are developing tubers. Potatoes should be easy to grow, especially in your warm climate. You can dig one plant up to see what's happening, but I suspect that as long as the top of the plant looks healthy, that everything underground is just fine.

Here are some basics for growing potates: Potatoes need space, sunshine, and fertile, well-drained soil. Work plenty of organic matter into the soil prior to planting. Purchase certified seed potatoes and then cut them into pieces. Each piece should have 2-3 eyes. Plant potatoes in rows spaced 3' apart, placing the seed pieces 6" apart, and cover them with 4-5 inches of soil. As the vines grow, hill soil, leaves, compost or straw over them to keep the developing tubers covered. Leave just the top of the stem and a few leaves uncovered. Once the plants begin to flower (an indication that the tubers are beginning to develop underground), stop hilling and apply a thick mulch to help the soil retain moisture. When the foliage begins to wither and die, harvest potatoes by digging with a spading fork. Allow them to dry, then brush off any dirt and store the potatoes in a cool (40F degrees), dark place.

Hope you have a bumper crop!

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