It's growing season and I'm thrilled to be here today - this post is my 14th "Contributing Angel" post (Thank you again to my friend Angel for allowing me to contribute to your amazing blog!)
You might be thinking: "why would I grow my own potatoes when they are so cheap at the grocery store" - taste, Taste & TASTE (and it's healthier too). Once you try homegrown potatoes you will grow them year after year!
Today I am sharing with you the easiest way to grow potatoes - in a compost pile. I have many compost piles in my yard - the kitchen waste compost has a special bin, but the grass clippings & fall leaves go into my potato growing compost section. (growing potatoes in last year's straw is also an option). By growing potatoes in a compost pile the "mounding" step that is required when growing in soil is eliminated.
There are 3 steps: preparing, planting & harvesting.
Have you ever noticed, when you buy a bag of potatoes in the grocery store - occasionally you will find an older potato that has a little bud or eye on it? - Well, this is the beginning of the potato plant. In the past I have planted "old" potatoes that I bought from the grocery store but I recommend buying "Seed Potatoes" from your local greenhouse or nursery instead. This year I bought 2 bags of "Seed Potatoes" for $5.99 each and I ended up getting 70 potato plants out those 2 bags.
Before planting your "seed potatoes" - you must first:
1. Take the Seed Potatoes out of the bag and set them in a warm place (60 to 70 degrees F.) with lots of sunlight.
2. Keep them in this warm place for about 1 to 2 weeks or until you notice the "eyes" or "buds" sprouting (see picture collage above).
3. Now you will need to cut each potato into "sets". Whenever you see an "eye" (or bud) - cut just below the eye (see picture collage above). Now I have 2 potato plants from 1 Seed Potato. From some of the larger potatoes you might get 3 or 4 plants. Continue cutting until you have completed the entire bag of seed potatoes.
4. Wait 2 more days before planting to allow the cut side to harden or "leather."
After the potato seeds have been prepared - plant each prepared seed potato about 4 inches deep and about 6 to 10 inches apart (see picture collage above). Cover these seed potatoes with compost (or dirt) and water - it will take about 2 weeks before the plants start peeking through the compost. You might need to add more compost throughout the summer (last summer I did not add more compost & they did just fine, however the year before I did add extra - it just depends on the weather. If you start to see potatoes[not the plant but the actual potato] poking through the top then you will need to add more compost). Now it's up to the potato plant to grow.
NOTE: If you are planting in soil - then you will need to mound or plant them in hills/furrows.
How to harvest Potatoes: You can see the progression in the pictures above. The plants must be light brown in color and the stem should look dry before harvesting. First, using a potato pitch fork, dig about 6 inches away from the brown plant. Then gently push back on the handle of the pitch fork (therefore lifting the potatoes out of the soil/compost). And, the last step is the most fun - I get down on my hands and knees and dig for the delicious fresh treasure. Dust off the dirt and ENJOY!!