Today, potatoes are one of the great American staple foods. Can you believe that they were first introduced to the United States during the 1600s? They are a popular food source that provides loads of vitamins and nutrients. Popular foods such as french fries, mashed potatoes, and baked potatoes with sour cream are favorite side dishes that many people enjoy. There is no denying that Americans love their potatoes and many people even choose to grow them themselves.
When a gardener wants to grow potatoes in their own garden, they should be aware of the best methods for success. The following information will provide information on how far apart to plant potatoes and the best way to grow these magnificent tubers.
The first thing you should understand about the potato planting process is how to place these tubers into the ground. Keep in mind that all potatoes can be planted into the ground as ‘seeds’ once sprouts began to grow out of them. However, the kind that we purchase in the grocery store or that are used in restaurants, have been treated with a sprout inhibitor. This inhibitor keeps the potato sprouts from developing. Sprouts are the funny looking growths that appear on some potatoes when they mature.
Seed potatoes are potatoes that have not been treated with the sprout inhibitor. When farmers grow potatoes, they select a certain group of their potatoes to be used for commercial use while keeping some of their crops exclusively for seeding purposes. Also, before the farmer plants any type of potato crop they will be sure to inspect it for diseases.
Do not forget that potato seeds are prone to various diseases and if you plant them untested, you could introduce a plant disease into your soil for many years. To sum things up, make sure you are buying your potato seeds from a reputable source that can verify their products are disease free.
The Potato Planting Process
When you are ready to plant your potato plants, you are going to need a lot of room for these vegetables to grow. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to assume that you have enough room in your garden area to plant your potato plants.
You should form your potato plants in rows because which is the best way for them to grow. If you plant more than two rows, the rows should be at least three feet apart. Next, dig a trench in each row that is between 6 and 8 inches deep. You should plant your potatoes between 12 and 15 inches apart. This means that every potato ‘seed’ you put into the ground should be spaced between 12 and 15 inches.
Remember that potatoes need ample space to develop and grow, which is why they take up so much space. So, when you plant your potato seed, only fill up your trench with 4 inches of soil. When your plant starts to grow (within a few days), you can then add more soil until the trench is filled. Just do not completely fill up the trench. Allow the potato to have plenty of room to expand and develop.
Special Considerations for Growing Potato Plants
- Potatoes should be planted during mid-to-late spring. This is the best time of the year to get the seeds into the ground.
- The soil should be above 45 degrees. If not, potatoes will have a hard time growing. Depending on what part of the country you live, you might have to wait little longer before you can start putting your seeds into the ground. If your potatoes are planted from mid-to-late June, this will require a later harvest time, but the potatoes will last through the winter months with proper cleaning.
- Most potato varieties (not all) grow best in mild temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees. They also like lots of sunshine.
- Sometimes, you might have to slice up the larger seed potatoes before planting them into the ground. You would usually do this for potatoes that are about the size of a baseball or larger. Again, you don’t have to do this, but it will help to save space during the plant’s growth cycle.
Make sure that you are watering your potato plant. Keep at least 1 to 2 inches of water on your potatoes within a week. Do not over water the plant. Keep the soil slightly damp and make sure that your potato plants are getting the water they need if your climate is persistently hot and dry.