Growing potatoes is a rewarding experience for any gardener. One of the easiest vegetables to grow, the magic of the finished product is never revealed until the time comes to pull it from the ground. But if you have never grown potatoes before you might be wondering how to go about planting them. While potatoes do set seed, they usually need to be grown vegetatively, which means re-planting a piece of actual potato.
So, how do you choose the right potato for your garden?
How to select your seed potatoes
Although it might seem easy enough to head to the local supermarket and buy up some potatoes to plant, it’s better to get certified seed potatoes from a reputable seed potato seller. Often potatoes in the supermarket have been treated to prevent them from sprouting and they haven’t been tested for diseases. By getting them from a trusted source, you will be safe in the knowledge that your potatoes are the best quality and are unlikely to get fungus or rot.
Which part do you plant?
You can plant whole potatoes or pieces of potatoes, the most important thing to remember is that each piece has an “eye”. This is the part of the potato that buds and grows into a new plant. A general rule of thumb for planting pieces of potatoes is that more eyes per piece will usually mean lots of smaller potatoes, while one or two eyes per piece mean fewer, larger potatoes.
Preparing seed potatoes
While cutting seed potatoes into pieces can help to stretch your seed potatoes out and help you to grow more plants, it does also increase the chances of disease and rot. So, if you have chosen to cut your seed potatoes it is important to prepare them properly to minimise the chances of it rotting. Once cut, leave to cure in a warm, humid spot for between 2 to 3 days. To give them added protection, sprinkle anti-fungal powder on the pieces as they dry.
How to plant seed potatoes
It’s important to pick the right time to plant your seed potatoes. If the conditions are too cold or wet the potatoes could rot and if the soil it too warm, they may not sprout. It’s also a good idea to wait until after the last hard frost to give your potatoes the best chance. Plant the potatoes about 3 inches deep and about 20 inches apart. If there is a light frost that kills new growth, don’t worry as this will not affect the plant in the soil and it will re-grow in no time.
We hope that you get to enjoy a bumper potato harvest this year!
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