Potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow. Every hill of potatoes is a treasure hunt of creamy, buttery tubers.
Potatoes are in the solanaceae or nightshade family along with tomatoes, eggplant and some peppers. Unlike tomatoes, potatoes are a cool season crop and tolerate some frost. They prefer rich but light soil and can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked.
Seed potatoes differ from grocery store bought potatoes. Though you can plant store bought potatoes, many of them go through a preserving process to inhibit sprouting. Seed potatoes have been selected for planting and can be purchased through seed growers or at garden centers. When you receive your seed potatoes, they will often have long white roots growing out of the eyes. These are both new roots and stems. DON’T BREAK THEM OFF. They are the beginning of healthy plants.
Potatoes can be planted whole or divided into pieces to grow more plants. Be sure each piece has at least three eyes and a good part of the potatoes center. I prefer to cut each potato in no more than three pieces, two if the potato is smaller than a tennis ball. After cutting, let the pieces cure overnight before planting.
To plant your potato: Potatoes should be planted 1-2 ft apart from each other or anything else. Dig a hole one hand’s length deep. Place your potato cut side down in the hole. Cover it with soil and pat it gently. I like to make a small concave divot above the potato to catch rain, Kind of shaped like a dish. Mark the location with a stick or marker. Water deeply. Remember, that potato is pretty deep in the ground. You want the water to reach it. Water potatoes twice per week until the seedling emerges.