The Q&A Archives: Growing Potatoes

Question: I seem to be having trouble growing potato plants. They either don't come up at all or they come up and don't do much of anything. The flowers fall off and then no potatoes. This year I didn't get my garden planted until the end of June. I have planted them in some manure that I put into the trenches. Can you help me in this matter?

Answer: Potatoes should be easy to grow. Here are some basics: 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. By following these guidelines you should have a bumper harvest next year.

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