The Q&A Archives: How to Grow Potatoes

Question: I am a first time gardener. I started my potatoes by quartering a store bought bag with plenty of eyes. I have no idea when or how to harvest. The tops of the plants look very nice and healthy. What do I do now? How will I know when they've produced?

Answer: I love to hear about fearless, first-time gardeners! You're doing great so far. Since the plants are growing vigorously, it's time to hill them. This involves pulling soil up over the leaves and stems of the vines til there are just a few inches of the tops above the hilled soil. The tops will continue to grow, encouraging more tubers to form on the buried stems. Make sure they get plenty of moisture if the weather is droughty, and for best yields, spray them with a seaweed/fish based fertilizer around bloom time. You can dig "new" potatoes a week or so after the vines bloom. If this is a storage variety of potato, wait til the vines have died back. This allows the tubers time to form a tough skin to protect them during storage. If you find green spots on tubers where sun has "kissed" them, remove all the green before eating the tuber. For next year, I suggest that you choose seed potatoes from a garden center or catalog, just because they're certified disease-free, and the ones at the store aren't. Besides, it's fun to try out different colors and shapes! Have fun!

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