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How to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes are affectionately called Spuds or Tubers. Those of us who grow potatoes, do so to harvest the tuberous roots. Hence, the nickname "Tubers". If you want to grow potatoes, you need to have seed potatoes. A seed potato is nothing more than a piece of a potato with an "eye".
When it comes to a useful garden vegetable, a Potato is it. It's used in everything from Potato Chips to French Fries. The vast majority of us eat something made of potatoes at least once a day, usually more.
How to Grow Potatoes:
Grow potatoes in full sun. Potatoes grow best in soft loamy soil, often referred to as "mucklands. They will grow just fine in rich to average garden soil. Add plenty of compost prior to planting ,to create a rich, loose soil that retains water, yet is well draining. Soil should be slightly acidic to avoid potato scab.
Plant potato "eyes" into the garden just before the last frost date for your area. Plant "Eyes" in hills. Place two to three eyes per hill, and cover with 3" of garden soil. Space hills one foot apart.
Fertilize every two to four weeks. Fertilizers high in nitrogen will result in a leafy, green plant at the expense of root development. A good fertilizer for potatoes contain low levels of Nitrogen, and high levels of phosphorus. 6-24-24, or 8-24-24, are good fertilizers for potatoes.
As the plants grow, mound additional soil around the plants every week or two. Do not let the tubers or potatoes be exposed to sunlight. You can cover the soil around the plants with compost, mulch or even black plastic.
Important Note: Uncovered tubers will turn green. These are poisonous and should be discarded.
Days to Maturity: Early varieties 70 to 90 days, mid season varieties 90 to 120 days, late varieties 120 to 140 days.
Around mid-August, tubers will begin to be large enough to harvest. Carefully, dig down among the roots to see if the potatoes have developed large enough tubers to harvest. Be careful not to sever the main root from the plant to the new potato. Once they have become large enough for consumption, you can harvest as much as you need for your individual meals. After the plants have died off, dig out and around the entire plant.
Insects, Pests, and Disease:
Potatoes are susceptible to a number of insect pests. Among the most common are potato maggots and aphids.
Moles and mice will burrow through the rows, and eat tubers. We recommend traps for control.
Potatoes suffer from some of the same blight and mildew problems as tomatoes. Thin bushy plats to improve air circulation. Fungicides will help with fungus diseases.
Potato scab also can be a problem. This can be avoided by raising the pH to slightly acidic levels.
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