Monday, March 8, 2010

Planting Potatoes

Since adding two beds to my garden compound this past summer, I now have six raised beds to work with.  The versatility this provides is wonderful.  So I decided to try and grow something I've never grown before...potatoes...Yep...Solanum tuberosum.  I read a recent article by the Bexar County AgriLife Extension Service Horticulturist (aka...plant guru for this region of Texas), and I was intrigued by what he wrote.  So I decided to give potatoes a try.

I did a little online research and consulted my favorite gardening books for more information, then headed to my local nursery.  Sure enough, they had the two seed potato varieties that do well in this area:  Red La Soda and White Kennebec.  Since my husband and I really like the little red new potatoes, I bought 2.5 pounds of the Red La Soda.

The first thing I did was presprout the potatoes.  I understand this step is not necessary but I want to give my potatoes the best possible jump start before I put them in the ground.  Presprouting is pretty simple.  Spread the potatoes on a newspaper in a warm spot, optimal temperature is 70F.  They need light, but not direct sunlight.  Within 2 weeks, the potatoes "eyes" began to sprout.  Easy enough, right?

Next step is to cut the potatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size, with each piece having between one to three visible eyes, which will be the area of future stem development.

Put about one cup of dusting sulfur in a large plastic bag, drop all the cut pieces in the bag and do the "shake & bake" thing, making sure each piece is coated with the sulfur compound.  Doing this prevents rotting on the young tuber once it's in the ground.  It's wise to do this step outside in a well ventilated area...dusting sulfur has a strong, stinky odor.

In the garden in well worked soil, I dug 2 trenches, each one 10" deep and about 6 " wide.   I dropped the pre-cut seed potatoes in the trenches, eyes facing up, spacing each spud about 12" apart, and covered each trench with a six-inch layer of high quality compost.




I'll side dress the plants three to four weeks after they emerge with my favorite organic granular fertilizer.  Once the plants have emerged to about six inches in height, I'll mound another four inches of compost over the plant.  This variety of potato should be ready to harvest within 80 days.  My resources tell me a good indicator for harvest is when the tops of the plants start looking kind of tired. 

So, that's what I did in the garden on Sunday.  I'm very hopeful the tubers will grow and produce an abundance of yummy potatoes for us to eat and share.

I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

  1. We enjoyed this article, but talking about a Sunday without telling us about the month stopped us from
    trying it by ourselves.
    Does someone know what Sunday it was,
    where to get the seed potatoes,
    where to get the sulfur?
    Help would be great!
    Bear Springs Blossom Nature Preserve
    Pipe Creek Texas