Potatoes have an ancient history. These plants, native to Peru, were brought to Europe in the 1500s by Spanish Conquistadors.
Potatoes have an ancient history. These plants, native to Peru, were brought to Europe in the 1500s by Spanish Conquistadors. The familiar potato is now one of the world’s largest food crops. Baked, roasted, mashed or scalloped, potatoes are a delicious addition to any meal. The true beauty of growing potatoes at home is the opportunity to potato varieties in colors, sizes and shapes you’ll never find in the supermarket.
Potatoes are not generally grown from seed, but from small potatoes called seed potatoes. Purchase seed potatoes from nurseries or online garden stores. Although a potato from the grocery store could grow into a plant, there’s no way for you to know its variety and disease resistance.
Expose seed potatoes to warm room temperature for about a week before you plan to plant. The potato will begin to sprout eyes, which will grow into roots underground. Cut large seed potatoes into chunks before planting, making sure each chunk has at least one eye.
Plant seed potatoes in spring, when soil temperatures fall in the 50 to 70 F range. Potatoes don’t do well in clay soil, but they love sandy, well-drained areas. Plant them 6 inches deep and 12 inches apart. Space rows 1 to 2 feet apart. Water deeply. Sprouts will emerge in about two weeks. Potatoes also do well in large containers, like a stacked tire garden.
Harvest potatoes after the plants finish flowering in summer. The longer you wait to dig them up, the larger your potatoes will be.