Potatoes are one of our favorite things to grow. They aren’t the easiest thing to grow, but the harvest is a very rewarding time. And like most things, homegrown potatoes taste the best!
Picking Out Your Seed Potatoes
First you will need to buy your seed potatoes. Most local farm and hardware stores begin to carry them in the late winter and early spring. A good seed potato will have little sprouts coming out of it, also called ‘eyes’. They are sometimes a little squishy, but this is okay as they will just end up rotting in the ground. You want to look for a light blue tag on your potato bag, to make sure it hasn’t been treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting. (see below)
You will want to get enough seed potatoes that you will have enough to eat on until next years harvest, and some left over to plant. Then you will not need to get seed potatoes next year!
You will want to plant your potatoes in the spring. You need to know the frost dates for your area, to get an idea of when to plant them.You can plant them about two weeks before the last frost date, as they won’t be above ground until after the last frost is expected. If you do it earlier and they start to pop out of the ground before the frost, the frost will kill them. It can be hard to wait, when you get some warm days and want to plant, but it is worth waiting so you don’t have as much chance of loss.
When you are ready to plant, you just need your potatoes and a good hoe. With your hoe, make a hole big enough to put your potato in. Then, put a whole potato, or a couple of little potatoes, in each of the holes you made, the ‘eyes’ (or side with the most eyes) pointing up. The more potatoes you put in, the more potatoes you will end up with when harvest time comes!
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
2 Cor. 9:6
When you are finished putting all your potatoes in the holes, sprinkle them with sulfur. We do this for a better harvest, as well as to keep bugs away. Sulfur helps them with nitrogen uptake, amino acid formation, and vitamin and mineral synthesis.
Add some water to your hole.If your soil is poor, like ours is, it is a good idea to add some manure into the hole as well.
After you have done these things, you want to hill your potatoes. You can do this with a hoe or a garden rake. Manure the hill again when finished. In a month or so, you will see them start poking out of the ground!
Nourishing the Plants
In the spring and early summer, you will probably not need to water if you get sufficient rainfall. Keep an eye on the moisture of your soil, and that it doesn’t get too dry.
When your plants are 3 months old, or 3-4′ tall, they should start to bloom. If they don’t they might need more nitrogen, or they might be low in magnesium.
If they need more nitrogen, add manure. If they are low in magnesium, spritzing them with Epsom salt water will help them begin to bloom. You will add 1 TBSP per gallon of water.
If they still don’t bloom, it DOES NOT mean there are not any potatoes underground. We had a year where there were only a handful of blooms in our whole patch, and we still had a good harvest.
Around this same time, you will want to hill your potatoes a second time.
When the plants are laid over, dry, and dead, this means it is time to harvest!
Do not dig your potatoes on a wet day, wait for a day when the soil is dry.
Take a potato fork and dig into your hills. Be very careful. If you aren’t careful, you could stab into your potatoes. It doesn’t ruin them, but you can’t store them if they are punctured. They will need to be eaten or preserved another way quickly so they don’t rot.
Pick up your potatoes, and put them carefully into crates, being careful not to bruise or scrape them if possible. Sort out the ones that will keep longer from the ones that you need to use up first. (These will include the ones you may have accidentally forked, have bug holes, etc). DO NOT wash your potatoes until you are ready to use them, as this will also cause them to rot quickly.
Honour Yehovah with thy substance, And with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
We follow this scripture, pray, and give the firstfruits of our increase (the harvest) to who God puts on our hearts.