Growing Potatoes

Learn how to plant potatoes in your garden with this simple step-by-step guide.

Materials Needed

  • seed potatoes
  • enriched soil
  • egg crates
  • string
  • shovel
  • straw or other dry mulch

Step 1: Chit Potatoes Before Planting

Chit Early Potatoes Inside and Plant After Frost

Chit Early Potatoes Inside and Plant After Frost

Early and maincrop potatoes can be sprouted inside before planting in the garden, this is know as chitting. Sprout or chit the seed potatoes by arranging them, with eyes uppermost, in egg boxes or seed trays in light in a cool, but frost free room.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

"Chitting" potatoes requires gardeners to give potatoes an early start by growing them inside. Do this by placing the seed potatoes with their "eyes" facing upward in trays or egg cartons in a warm, light place so the green shoots appear. Once the shoots are 1/4-1/2-inch long, the tubers are ready to be planted. Mid-season and late crops can be planted unchitted. Only plant undamaged tubers.

Step 2: Plant the Potatoes

Grow potatoes in an open, sunny site in well-drained soil. Plant early varieties one month before the last frosts are predicted, and main-crop types in late spring.

Dig a trench to a shovel's depth and fill the bottom with loose soil or compost. Plant early varieties 12 inches apart, in rows 20 inches apart, and main-crop varieties 16 inches apart, in rows 30 inches apart. Cover them with soil. 

Tubers can be planted into individual holes if only growing a few or in long trenches for larger crops. Plant the chits facing upward.

Fill the holes or trench, covering the tubers with 1 inch of soil. When planting chitted tubers, be careful not to knock off the developing shoots.

Step 3: Add More Soil

Earth Up Plants as They Emerge by Mounding Soil

Earth Up Plants as They Emerge by Mounding Soil

Earth up around potato plants as they emerge by mounding soil around their stems to keep potatoes from being exposed to light.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

As potato plants grow, their stems should be regularly covered with soil or "hilled up." In the early days, this protects the tubers from frost. Later on, it encourages the growth of extra tubers, leading to a larger crop. Hilling up also prevents the tubers from being exposed to light, which makes them turn green and inedible.

Step 4: Protect Plants

Protect Young Potato Plants With Straw

Protect Young Potato Plants With Straw

When seed potatoes are first planted out, hilling up may not provide enough protection from frost. In colder regions, add a layer of straw to prevent tubers from freezing.

©2010, Dorling Kindersley

2010, Dorling Kindersley

When seed potatoes are first planted out, hilling up may not provide enough protection from frost. In colder regions, add a layer of straw to prevent tubers from freezing.

Step 5: Harvesting

Potato Crop Ready for Harvest Once Plants Bloom

Potato Crop Ready for Harvest Once Plants Bloom

Potatoes should be ready to harvest when the plants flower. Empty the bin and harvest tubers all at once or allow plants to continue growing and pick through soil to take out all tubers.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

When the flowers begin to open, your potatoes are ready to harvest. Use a garden fork to dig them up from below, accessing them from the side of the mound, to avoid damaging them.

Step 6: Storing Your Harvest

Storing Potatoes

Storing Potatoes

Main-crop potatoes can be stored in paper sacks. After harvesting, brush off the soil and dry in the sun for a few hours. Pack away only the perfect tubers in a cool, dry area and check them regularly.

©2010, Dorling Kindersley

2010, Dorling Kindersley

Main-crop potatoes can be stored in paper sacks. After harvesting, brush off the soil and dry in the sun for a few hours. Pack away only the perfect tubers in a cool, dry area and check them regularly.

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