The Q&A Archives: Growing Potatoes in Phoenix

Question: Please provide me with info on growing potatoes in Phoenix. I have investigated other online sources and found nothing on the subject.

Answer: If you're interested in growing regular Irish potatoes, it's too late in the season to get a crop for this year, according to textbooks, but you might just want to experiment and see what happens - that's at least half the fun of gardening! Besides, El Nino is shaping an unusual growing year nationwide - so give it a try! Ideally, you'd plant "seed" potatoes (potato tubers used to propogate new plants) in early March. It's best to dig an 18"-deep trench, fill it with good soil (mix it with a bit of the native soil taken from the trench), and plant the seed, either whole or cut so there are at least 2 "eyes" (stem buds) on each piece. Cover them with a couple of inches of improved soil and mulch them with a thick layer of moisture-retaining straw. As the plants grow, surround the growing stems with improved soil and straw right up to the top set of leaves. Tubers will from the buried stems. Once you've filled the trench, you can hill soil up around the base of the growing plant, but leave a generous head of leaves uncovered. Keep the soil from drying out, spray plants two-three times with a liquid kelp fertilizer, and you should be able to harvest "new" (baby) potatoes before the criping heat of July! Best varieties for your region are Red Pontiac, Kennebec and Norgold Russet. Have fun!

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