It is almost Valentine’s Day! So my really patient husband knows that while most couples are dreaming of dinner out, maybe a big red box of chocolates, perhaps flowers in a vase; I am wanting a few seed potatoes and the space and time to plant them. I know that there have got to be others like me.
Who, but a gardener would open a box of seed potatoes and say, “Oh honey, you complete me!” If you feel the same way, like this on facebook or take the time to comment. I love hearing from you! That way I feel like I am not alone in my craziness.
You can buy seed potatoes now at your local feed store, or if you know of a organic grocer you could purchase potatoes from there. However don’t buy potatoes from any old where, because chances are they have been sprayed with a chemical that cause them not to sprout. When you are trying to sprout, hence grow a plant, this doesn’t work out so well. Unfortunately, I know from experience. If your organic potatoes are whole ,you want to cut them up into pieces with 2 or 3 eyes and lay them out so that they will cure and dry for at least 3 days before planting. Shaking them in a paper bag with sulfur prevents rotting while they are in the ground waiting to sprout. Then when romance is in the air you want to sink them into a nice fluffy raised bed. Not so much into “black gumbo” or “black cement” as I like to call it. Unless of course you are going for a few golf ball size potatoes, then by all means sink away! Remember, I have often wondered how many plows the settlers broke before they decided to invest in a few head of cattle? Those of you who are new to this region, WELCOME TO TEXAS! Chances are you don’t have room for a herd of cattle in your backyard, so why not make it easy on yourself and go with raised beds? See what to put in your raised bed here.
This year I am excited to say that I have saved my own seed potatoes from last years harvest. O.K. I admit they are looking a bit shriveled and sad, but have great sprouts going on! I will let you know how they produce compared to the fresh seed potatoes from the feed store.
There are also unconventional ways to grow potatoes. Everything from bags, barrels or bathtubs.
I have only tried the ground method so far but am wanting to try some of these others. If you have grown “trashcan potatoes” shout in the comments how well it worked out for you.
Planting potatoes in the ground is about mounds, no not the delicious chocolate covered coconut candy bar, but you can go get one as a reward after your chilling planting of potatoes. If your lucky you will get some seed potatoes and chocolate to enjoy after sinking your spuds in the ground. When I say mounds I am trying to get across that you dig a hole about 6″ deep put some fertilizer in, cover with 2″ of soil and put your potato in. Then cover with about 4″ of soil. After your potato plant is about 6-8″ tall you need to mound soil up around the growing stock. Leave about 2 inches showing above the ground. Let it grow some more and then mound up around the stem again. Why all this mounding? Because your potatoes will grow ABOVE the little seed piece that you planted. I know! It is kind of an upside down situation. Some people make their mounds out of straw and compost to make for a loose easy harvest. Your potatoes should be spaced about a foot apart so I am going to borrow one of my kids school rulers and return it a wee bit dirtier than it was before. That will pay them back for all the times they borrow my things and return them not just a little dirtier but, well, ruined. Keep your growing potatoes covered with straw, compost or earth, because if they are exposed to sunlight they will turn green and become a bit toxic. Nobody likes a toxic potato!
Hold off on the water for a few weeks so as not to make little rotted pieces of potato. Your potatoes might start to put on lovely violet flowers. This is a good sign that they are making little potatoes under there. Water away! When they start to yellow and look like you are losing your whole crop,some time in May, keep your cool this is what potatoes do. Hold back on the water for a couple of weeks and then, dig gently and see what you have got.
I know my mind doesn’t work quiet like other people’s, but I have to say the excitement, anticipation of finding out if you succeeded in this potato growing is really fun! Some years have been a boom and other, mostly wet years, have been a bust. We all learn to roll with it. You might sink a few garlic chive plants in also, in anticipation of the great buttery hot baked potato! A good way to remember the timing of potatoes is this little saying; ” Plant potatoes by Valentine’s Day for the lady that first had your heart. Harvest them on her day; Mother’s Day of course,at least in North Texas!” Nothing says I love you better than a pot of creamy potato leek soup! Happy potato planting while love is in the air!