We recently wrote a post on preparing seed potatoes for planting and it was one of the most popular posts. Perhaps there are a lot of gardeners who are looking to grow their own potatoes.
With that in mind, here’s another post on how we planted our seed potatoes into our potato growing bin.
Planting Potatoes in Your Garden
To start, potatoes are a variety of nightshade and you’ll want to be sure to practice good crop rotation when planting them. Nightshades are notorious for carrying infections, pests, and diseases. You want to give three years between planting nightshades in the same location/soil.
Potatoes grow from underground stems called stolons. In order to prevent potatoes from being exposed to the light, it is important to have the ability to “hill” the plants. If exposed to the light, the potatoes will begin to turn green, which signifies the development of bitter-tasting glycoalkaloids, which are toxic and should not be eaten.
When growing potatoes in your backyard or small homestead, many people find it most practical to grow them in some sort of container or bin. Some people build a bin specifically for growing potatoes in.
We placed the bin in an out of the way place and filled the first portion of the bin with fresh dirt.
After the dirt was placed in the bottom portion of the bed, we dug three trenches. Planting the seed potatoes in a trench and covering them lightly with dirt will make the process of hilling them easier and more effective. (As mentioned above, once your plants start growing, you are going to “hill” your potatoes with dirt to protect the developing tubers from the sun.)
We live in the desert and like to make watering as easy as possible, so we usually utilize soaker hoses for all our watering needs.
Finally, we placed the seed potatoes in the trenches about 9-12 inches apart. Since most of the potatoes were already sprouted (read more about this in my previous post on preparing seed potatoes), we tried to ensure that the sprouts were on the top side and facing up, towards the sun.
Finally, we covered each potato with about a half-inch of soil and watered them. As of now, most of our plants have sprouted above the soil line and are about an inch tall!
** Note – Potatoes are a cool-season crop. Ideal growing temperatures are 65-80 degrees during the day and 55-65 degrees at night.**
As the potatoes grow, we can add boards to the front of the bin to raise the dirt level and “hill” the potato plants without much trouble or mess. When the potatoes are ready to be harvested, we can just unscrew the sides and let the dirt fall out and then collect our potatoes!