Many varieties of
potatoes, as well as sweet potatoes and yams can be grown in
backyard vegetable gardens. Potatoes
are aggressively rooting plants, and require full sun to grow. They
will produce the best crop when planted in a light, loose,
well-drained but moisture retentive soil.
Planting can commence as soon as the ground can be
worked in the early spring.
Potato plants are generally not sold in
nurseries. Seed potatoes from a catalog are generally
the best way to go as
supermarket potatoes are treated with a chemical growth
prevent sprouting. See Online Nurseries and Seed
catalogs to the right of this paragraph.
Seed potatoes can be
planted whole or cut into halves, or, quarters on larger
varieties, with each
piece containing an eye or two .
Because potatoes can rot if the soil is cool or
I prefer to allow the cut pieces to callus over, by
leaving them exposed overnight.
particularly sweet potatoes are best started with
Potato Types and Planting Tips which has an
excellent article on this topic.
The soil should be evenly moist, but not wet or soggy.
Soil temperature should be a minimal of 45 degrees F. If
the soil is waterlogged when you dig, your seed potatoes
will probably rot before they grow. Potatoes are a hardy
crop and can tolerate climatic aberrations, light frost
etc.., but you should provide some frost-protection for
the young plants. A temporary ground cover (ventilated),
7-12 days before your planting date, be sure to put your
seed potatoes somewhere warm 60 - 70 degrees F. with
abundant light. This will induce the sprouting process.
A day or two before planting, slice the larger seed
potatoes into "seeds". Each seed should be approximately
1 1/2-2inches square, and should contain at least 2
buds. Smaller potatoes can be planted whole.
Your seed potato should have formed a thick callous over
the cuts, which will help prevent it from rotting when
Dig the soil to a depth of 10-12 inches and be sure to
remove rocks and other debris that could obstruct the tubers as
they grow. Work in plenty of compost to ensure the right soil
texture, but be sure to avoid adding manure, which can cause a
disease called scab.
Potatoes do well in proximity of Beans,
Cucumber, Corn, Kohlrabi, Parsnip, Pumpkin,
Rutabaga, Squash family, Sunflower, Turnip, Fennel,
Do not plant near to or and in succession with [The
following season] Eggplants ,Tomato plants or strawberries as they
carry and transmit the same blights and will infect one another.
Horseradish, planted at the edges of the potato patch will provide protection
against some insect scourges, as will marigolds.
The sweet alyssum
has tiny flowers that attract
beneficial insects, such as predatory wasps. Plant sweet alyssum alongside
potatoes, or let it spread to form a living ground cover.
Irrigation prior to and after planting should be applied
. Do not water excessively as this can promote root rots and
fungus in potatoes. Drip
irrigation provides the plants with a more uniform application
of water, placing it near the root zone and using less water.
Drip irrigation also minimizes the amount of foliage and fruit
disease compared with overhead irrigation .
Inexpensive drip systems
When setting out seed
potatoes, apply a common starter solution
. For sandy loam soils or coarser soils - fertilizer
based on soil tests should be used --See
Soil pH for
more extensive data.. If heavy rainfall occurs during
early in the season apply an extra side dressing.
Soil for potatoes should be
high in phosphorus and potassium and very low in nitrogen ,
as nitrogen encourages foliage growth at the expense of the
tubers. If your soil is very heavy, grow your potatoes in
Varieties of Potatoes for Home Growers
Traditionally most people grow three basic
types of potatoes in their gardens - reds, bakers, and boilers .
However many new and heirloom varieties are now available through
catalogs and specialty producers than ever before.
Yellow-fleshed potatoes not only have a rich buttery color, they are
flavorful, creamy and moist in texture, without having to add butter or
sauces. Yellow-fleshed varieties include Yukon Gold, Russian Banana, and
Yellow Finn. Fingerling potatoes, small in size but big
in flavor, are popular in other countries and gaining favor here with
gourmet cooks. Most are smooth textured, moist and great flavored.
Fingerling varieties include Blue Potatoes and Various Sweet Potatoes.
The following are my personal favorites, you of course may prefer to scan
any of the many online
nurseries and seed catalogs.
white skinned and
white flesh tubers make excellent table potatoes. Fairly firm
texture when boiled. They are highly recommended for fries and
chips. Plants are compact and erect with pointed smooth leaves
and; numerous big white flowers with slight reddish purple tinge
Crisp flesh and thin skin are a
delightful shade of blue. Looks
different but tastes like regular potatoes. Easy to grow, with
Yukon Gold Potato
Golden Yellow flesh
Produces big, early, great-tasting crop of yellow-fleshed spuds for
baking, mashing. Gold skin is shallow-eyed. Sprout resistant, super
all-purpose cooking potato flavored for its crisply flavorful
flesh. Ideal for frying, thin skin makes peeling a snap. Stores
well. Resists late blight, tobacco mosaic virus
Sweet Potato Beauregard
Ready for harvesting earlier than most other sweet potatoes. Rich
reddish skin wraps deep orange flesh that cooks up sweet, moist and
meaty. Record high yields of uniform, crack-resistant tubers
Red, White, and Blue Collection
stunning blue-skinned Caribe, hot Red Cloud, and
buttery Yukon Gold! Potato lovers, your dream garden awaits!
This collection gives you 3 exciting varieties of spuds to grow
Sweet Potato Centennial
Produces big, early yields. Appealing red-orange skin wraps sweet,
meaty bright orange flesh. Plants. 100 DAYS.
Seed & Nursery Catalogs
Pests and Diseases of
- Colorado potato beetles are a serious threat to
tomato, eggplant, and pepper as well as potato plants. This
insect is notorious for development of resistance to
insecticides over short periods of time. A rotation among
different classes of insecticides is recommended to discourage
resistance. There is a new commercially available strain of
Bacillus Thuringiensis Thuricide
that is effective against small larvae (less than 1/4 inch) and
should be applied at egg hatch or when larvae are first seen
- Prevention and Control
- Lady Bugs
- Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that feed on
plant roots. They live in soil and plant tissues, and
several species may occur in any given field.
- Root knot nematode larvae invade tubers and
roots and establish feeding sites before developing into
adult stages. Adult females lay eggs in a gelatin
mixture on or just below the roots surface. The eggs
hatch and the larvae infest neighboring roots and
tubers. Root knot nematodes reduce the vigor of plants
and cause blemishes on potatoes [tubers].
- Lesion nematodes damage roots by feeding and
moving through plant tissue. In addition, they increases
the susceptibility of potato plants to Verticillium wilt
and cause blemishes .
- Prevention and Control
- Beneficial nematodes
- Crop rotation can be useful in reducing nematode
populations, nematode resistant tomato varieties.
- Infested potatoes left in the ground after
harvest will be a source of re-infestation. Destroy
potato plants that subsequently emerge from these
tubers to restrict nematode reproduction
- Potato Tuberworm. Typical damage from tuber worms
result from larvae mining in the tubers/ potatoes. Small
larvae enter the potato at the eyes. Deposits of excrement
can generally be seen in webbing around an eye where the
larva has begun to tunnel. The larvae usually feed just
below the surface of the potato leaving a dark tunnel.
Occasionally they bore deeper . The tunnel is filled with
excrement and can be described as a dirty tunnel compared to
the clean tunnels made by wireworms or other soil-inhabiting
- Prevention and Control
- Wireworms. Wireworms, are the larvae of
click beetles, they cause damage by
penetrating into the potato tuber as they feed. They are
yellowish-white to copper, hard, smooth, and vary in size
from 1/2 to nearly 2 inches in length. Depending upon the
species, wireworms may spend up to 5 years in the soil . You
can test your soil for wireworms by spearing quartered
potatoes on sticks and burying them aproximately 3 inches
deep. Dig up the potatoes after a week and inspect for
wireworms . Rescue treatments are nonexistent.
Preplant soil applied insecticides are highly recommended
for control of these insects
- Prevention and Control
Pest Control for more extensive data
1. ] Purchase vigorous, healthy plants
from a reputable supplier. Pepper Plants, being susceptible to
viruses and insects, some varieties have
been bred or hybridized to be resistant to certain pests.
Resistance to these pests is usually
listed on the plant label using the following abbreviations:
V = Verticillium Wilt
F = Fusarium Wilt
FF = Fusarium Wilt race 1 and 2
N = Nematode
T = Tobacco Mosaic Virus
A = Alternaria (Early Blight)
TSW = Tomato Spotted Wilt
Remember that resistance to these problems does not mean
they are 100 % immune,
good cultural practices are still
Crop Rotation in your garden planting area
3.] Remove and destroy all plant
refuse in the fall and use deep cultivation to bury any
4.] Do not place diseased plants in the
compost heap, as this will only serve to carry bacterial or
fungal infestation into the next growing
5.] Avoid over watering . Use surface
watering methods. Do not handle plants when the vines are
6.] Weeds compete with vegetables for
soil moisture and nutrients and also serve as hosts for
and disease carrying bacteria and fungus.
Control weeds in and around the garden .
7.] Control insect pests such as
aphids, which are known to transmit diseases from
plant to plant.
organic mulches to reduce disease and blossom-end rot problems.
9.] Choose a sunny location for
your tomatoes. Leaf disease problems are much less likely
to occur in a
sunny location than in a shady one.
10.] Apply recommended
fungicides according to label directions at the first sign
of leaf spot diseases
11.] Remove abnormal or unhealthy appearing
plants as soon as they are observed. To reduce the
suspected diseases wash hands and tools with a mild detergent after
handling suspect plants.
Garden Safe All Natural Fungicide3
Garden Safe Brand. 3 garden products in 1: Fungicide, insecticide, and
miticide. Prevents and controls black spot, powdery mildew, and other
fungal diseases. Kills eggs, larvae, and adult stages of insects.
Harvesting and Storage of Potatoes
When you believe that you have early potatoes
big enough to eat, dig gently into your early hills, feel for the
best-sized potatoes and ease them out. The plants will keep on growing and
producing as long as you are gentle and don't cause extensive root
damage in this early harvest.
During seasons when the soil
has been unusually moist, hunting for early potatoes by hand
becomes more difficult.
dig up entire plants, harvest the young spuds you find and put
the plants back in the ground. They will survive this rude
transplant and continue to produce more potatoes. But working
fast is important; freshly dug potatoes shouldn't stay in the
sun very long.
In North regions [Zones 2-5 -See
Zone Map] , harvest the bulk of your potato crop in
September, when the plant tops are dying and the days are getting cooler
.Choose a warm, dry day after a period of little or no rain. Cloudy days
are even better, since too much light turns newly dug potatoes green,
changing their flavor.
Be gentle. Do not rough up or bump the potatoes.
Each bruise lowers the storage quality of the potato.
When potatoes are exposed to light their skins turn slightly green , this is
caused by a toxin called solanine . Solanine develops if potatoes aren't
fully covered by soil while growing, or if you leave them in the sun too
long after the harvest, or aren't stored in complete darkness. Because
solanine is slightly toxic, it's possible to get sick if you consume a large
enough helping of greened potatoes. Peeling or cutting away green sections
before cooking usually eliminates the problem, as most of the solanine is
located in the potatoes skin.