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Getting Your Potatoes in the Ground

Potatoes are easy to grow, but like cool weather, so you should try to get them into the ground at the right time. You can order seed potatoes through mail-order garden companies or buy them at local garden centers/ hardware stores. Supermarket potatoes are usually treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting, so they may not grow well, but then on the other hand....I've heard that some Families have had luck with them. This last weekend, I saw some small boxes of Potato Seeds in my neighborhood market. The price was reasonable, and they were Organic.The Organic ones will work best for you , and you know what you are getting. You can store your seed potatoes in the refrigerator until ready to plant.

STEP 1 -- WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED PLANTING DATE FOR YOUR AREA? You can check with your Agricultural extension office to make sure. Since it takes potatoes two to three weeks to emerge from the ground, the earliest you should plant seed potatoes is two weeks before your last anticipated freeze date of 28 degrees or lower. About a week before your planting-out date, bring the seed out of the fridge and place it in a bright warm window for about a week. This will help break the spuds' dormancy and assure they will grow quickly when you put them into the still-cool spring soil.

If you garden in an area that has hot summers, be sure to plant your potatoes early. To play it safe, choose potato varieties that mature in early- or mid-season. Potatoes don't do well when the temperatures climb into the 90s. They may actually keel over and die when the temperature gets to 95

Mounding and Hilling are the best ways of growing spuds. But if you’re only going to be growing a few, or if you have plans to get new potatoes from the vines early in their growing season, this simple method below is worth a try.

STEP 2 — PREPARING THE SEED POTATOES. Cut your potatoes into several 1-inch to 2-inch chunks. Include at least 1 or 2 “eyes” on each piece. This is the growth point where the new plants emerge. Don’t cut the pieces too big. A smaller chunk of potato encourages the plant to get busy and put down its own, strong roots, rather than live off the stored foods in the seed piece. Let the pieces air-dry, for 24 hours. This toughens the outer layer of the potato and helps it resist disease. You can also give the potato pieces a light dusting of sulfur powder to help prevent fungi from attacking them. Shake the pieces in a bag with a small amount of the powder until the pieces are evenly coated. The spuds will be fine without chemical treatments if the soil they’re planted in is dry and warm.

STEP 3 — PREPARE YOUR SOIL. With this method, you don’t need to dig trenches or mound soil into hills. Just work a trowel full of compost into a square foot of soil in a sunny, well-drained area of the garden. The soil should be loose enough for the potato to send down roots easily. Take a piece of seed potato and press it firmly into contact with the soil. Be sure the “eye” faces up when you do this.

STEP 4 — MOUND UP THE MULCH. Build up a 6-inch-deep mound of mulch over the potato. Water the mound gently to thoroughly wet the mulch. This will help it hold together. Keep the mound evenly moist. As the vines start to peek through the mound, begin feeding them with a half-strength foliar spray. Use fish-emulsion or seaweed extract once a week until the flowers open, then stop feeding. Mound additional mulch around the stems each time they’ve grown about 6 more inches. Potatoes grow at the ends of stolons that the plant puts out wherever the stems are covered with mulch. So in time your plant will have tubers in several sizes within the mound.

STEP 5 — TIME TO HARVEST. The best part about this method is that you can get NEW potatoes, the creamers and steamers, without disturbing the plant. If that’s your goal for your potatoes, the time to go after the first new spuds is right after the flowers bloom. Just move the mulch gently out of the way and pop the new potatoes off the ends of the stolons with your fingers. Only take about 20 percent of the new potatoes at a time. Let the rest remain to keep the plant from getting too stressed. Continue watering the plants throughout the season to keep them producing new potatoes. If you’d prefer to let the potatoes mature and get larger, stop watering them after the flowers bloom. This causes the plant to start concentrating on developing the potatoes. Then, in the fall, when the plant begins to die back, move the mulch away and harvest the full-grown potatoes.

Here at THE SEED GUY, we offer some of the best Small Farm Grown Non GMO Heirloom Seeds in the country. We are more concerned with helping Families be able to affordably grow their own Healthy Non GMO Gardens than we are about our bottom line. Our 60 Variety Heirloom Seed Pkg Special has 25,000 Seeds, all Non GMO, 90 - 93% germination, hand counted and packaged, and priced at $55. You can go to our website and ORDER at http://theseedguy.com/78-the-60-variety-survival-heirloom-seed-package.html