Monday, May 3, 2010

Resolving Some Potato Uncertainty & Planting Potatoes

This is my first time growing potatoes. My potato seed order was placed back in February and arrived about two weeks ago. My first reaction was that the box looked rather small. I ordered 5 pounds of potato seed. 2.5 pounds each of Dark Red Norland and Kennebec. I weighed the box and sure enough it weighed over 5 pounds.

I spread the potatoes out to chit/sprout while I contemplated on how many pieces I could cut them into for planting. It just didn’t seem like a lot. I finally decided to purchase 3 more pounds of seed potatoes for a total of 8 pounds.

It has been several months since I planned and plotted the garden. I had to review my bookmarked “how to plant potato” sites to refresh my memory as to the spacing, depth, etc. I was a little surprised to see the yield estimate of 1 pound of seed potato equals 10 pounds of potatoes. Eek! 80 pounds seems like a lot of potatoes for two people.

On Saturday, I cut the larger seed potatoes into pieces making sure I had at least three “eyes” per piece. By Sunday the cut areas had healed over and were dry to the touch.

I counted up my seed pieces and roughed out a plan. There are three rows of Dark Red Norland and two rows of Kennebec:

Our little Mantis cultivator made quick work of soil preparation:

Last fall I had sprinkled the potato area with some lime and covered it with shredded leaves. For the first time ever, there were minimal weeds and grass that needed removing before cultivating. I think this was both due to the solar mulch used through the growing season last year and the blanket of leaves.

The rows were measured out and trenches were dug two feet apart. The soil was mounded up in between the trenches for later hilling:

Some fertilizer was added to the bottom of the trenches and worked in with a hoe:

It took some careful footwork, but the potato seeds were spaced out, planted, and covered with about 3 inches of soil:

A soaker hose was carefully woven through the rows and turned on to gently water the newly planted potato bed:

As the potatoes grow, the soil will be pulled from the mounds in between the trenches to cover the new growth:

It was warm and humid on Sunday and the black flies were fierce. I am pleased to have the potatoes planted and can’t wait to watch them grow. I don’t usually weigh my harvest, but I will be weighing the potatoes to document the yield.


  1. Oh, I'll bet you are going to have a fine potato harvest! Just don't forget to steal a few of those baby reds anytime after the plants blossom. Just carefully reach your fingers down into the soil and feel around for them. I also planted Norlands and Kennebecks, and hope our infestation of wire worms doesn't do too much harm to them this year.

  2. Hopefully they perform well for you! Those are some mighty trenches that you dug! My potted potatoes have sprouted already but still no signed of the ones I planted in the ground.

    I have know idea what a mantis cultivator is but by the looks of that bed, I need to get one!

  3. It looks like you have an excellent plan for potatoes. I suck at growing them! Maybe you'll have better luck than me....

  4. You are off to the potato races! I think you will find that you will get a good harvest from your plot.

    I am doing a different approach with my potato patch this year from my normal and am hoping for even greater yeilds as a result. I was happy to see that the potatoes are breaking ground in the bed over the past few days so it looks like my new deeper planting method may prove to be a winner.

  5. That looks like a very nice potato plot. Good luck with them.

  6. Wow! Lookin good! I can't wait to see the harvest.

  7. Granny: I hope you are right. I have never grown potatoes before. I am looking forward to baby red potatoes. I didn't know when I could steal some. Thanks!

  8. Thomas: The trenches were only 6-9 inches deep. I think the mounded soil in between the trenches made them look deeper. I wonder if the potatoes sprouting in your pots is due to the soil being warmer than the ground?

    Here are some links about the Mantis:

    There are a few pics of the Mantis in action in a post from last year.

  9. EG: I find it difficult to believe that you suck at growing anything.

    KitsapFG: Your blog was a huge help in showing me how to plant potatoes. Thank you! I am watching your new method closely as well.

    Daphne: Thanks!

    Ribbit: Thank you! We will see how it goes.

  10. Your soil and procedure looks terrific GM. I think you had better start thinking about storage facilities. :o) John