Growing Food: A Guide for BeginnersCopyright 2009, Jean Ann Van Krevelen
How to Grow Potatoes
Potatoes are an herbaceous perennial that is related to tomatoes and eggplants. And while these
spectacular spuds originated in Peru, most of today’s varieties can be traced back to Chile. It is relatively
easy to grow potatoes if you follow
a few key guidelines
Potatoes have a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some are grown for early season harvest and othersare grown for late season harvest. Make sure you follow the cultural requirements for the type you areplanting.
Believe it or not, potatoes grow up, not down. They will produce a small crop underground, but willnot dive deep like a carrot. In order to get a high yield, you will need to add compost/hay up aroundthe vine as it grows.
Grow potatoes from tubers, not seeds. When you order “seed potatoes” you will get tubers with“eyes” on them. Eyes are those spots on a potato where roots start growing. When you cut and plant,
make sure each piece has 2-3 eyes on it.
When a potato tuber is exposed to sunlight, it can turn green. This can be an indication that toxiccompounds, called glycoalkaloid, have increased. These compounds are always present in potatoes,but higher doses can cause illness. Avoid eating green or sprouted potatoes and leaves and stems aswell.
Spuds differ greatly in the amount of starch that is present. High starch varieties are good formashing, baking and frying (like russets). Those with low starch are best for boiling, roasting andsalads (like reds). There is an intermediate group that can be used as both a low or high starch potato(like Yukon Golds). Try a couple of different types to see which you like the best.
Potato Planting Instructions
These tubers like a slightly acidic soil and sunshine. If your leaves are a too yellow, have your soiltested to find out the pH, and then amend with a soil acidifier like sulfur.
Spuds like fertile soil. Make sure the location is well amended with compost and the soil is nice andloose.
Potatoes are grown from seed potatoes, not seeds. Generally, they are sold by the pound.
Plant potatoes whole or cut in chunks, making sure that there are 2-3 eyes per piece. Many sourcessuggest letting the cut potatoes callous over before planting. You can do this by leaving the pieces ina bright, dry location for 24 hours until the cut sides have dried. I have also just cut the potatoes andplunged them in the ground.