Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Sprouting Potatoes Ready for Planting
Sprouting Potatoes Ready for Planting

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden is the main topic of this article, which is the first of another adventurous series – offer of the untidy editorial team of "Kalliergeia", dedicated in this case to the tidy home cultivation of the plant.

Issues are raised and shed light in depth, which aspire to make the life of the amateur gardener who will start with the production of homemade potatoes easier – although with the humiliating prices that the potato producer enjoys (at least in Greece), maybe for the prospective potato grower the most useful admonition would be better not to end up in trouble (and costs).

However, if he/she really wants to, he/she has (still) every legal right to grow in his garden any fruit and vegetable plant he/she likes – even the potato.

For which potato (or batata) as an introduction could be said that its botanical name is Solanum tuberosum, and that it belongs to the family Solanaceae, whose prominent members are still the tomato, the eggplant and the pepper.

And since the Old World got to know the potato from the New World and South America, when it was introduced to Spain around 1536 CE, for this reason it must pay tribute to Christopher Columbus, who with its (rediscovered) discovery China paved the way.

Kennebec is one of the most productive and tolerant varieties of potatoes for culinary use.

The Kennebec Potato Variety
The Kennebec Potato Variety
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The Potato Cultivars & Varieties

With more than 4000 cultivars and varieties available, it is highly likely that the amateur gardener will not be able to choose between the most suitable for cultivation in his home vegetable garden.

Therefore, in order to overcome this obstacle, in order to be able to select one or the other – but always – proper variety, it is desirable to know their basic characteristics.

Basic Characteristics of Potato Cultivars & Varieties

The main characteristics of the potato cultivars and varieties include:

  • The yield
  • The required maturation time
  • Disease resistance
  • The appropriate way of cooking
  • The color and texture of the skin (peel)
  • The color of the flesh
  • Storage resistance

Traditional & Color (Gourmet) Varieties

Traditionally, the varieties grown in most parts of the world had whitish or yellow skin and flesh. In recent decades, however, the rise of "Ethnic" Cuisine and / or the aspirations of those involved in High Gastronomy (Haute Cuisine) have brought to the fore the colored (gourmet) potatoes.

Red, blue, purple, purple, pink and orange potato varieties are now relatively easy to find and grow. And while in general it could be said that the color / gourmet varieties lag behind in yield as well as in the possibility of long-term storage, however as a compensation they offer their color, their nutritional value and the excellent taste of many of them.

Indicative Table of Varieties & Characteristics

The following is an indicative table with some potato cultivars / varieties and some of their characteristics. The optimistic reader of "Kalliergeia" will be able to find more in the special future tribute that will refer only to the potato varieties.

Variety / CULTIVARSKIN / FLESH COLORMATURITY
AgriaYellow / YellowLate Mid
All BlueBlue / VioletEarly Mid
BanbaYellow / Sub-yellowEarly Mid
Dark Red NorlandRed / WhiteEarly
DesireeRed / YellowLate Mid
KennebeYellow / WhiteLate Mid
LisetaYellow / CreamEarly
MonalisaYellow / Pale YellowEarly Mid
Russet BurbankDark Brown / WhiteLate
SafariLight Yellow / Light YellowLate Mid
SpuntaYellow Brown / Light YellowEarly Mid
SwiftYellow / Sub-YellowEarly
VitelotteViolet-Black / Blue-VioletLate
Yukon GoldBrown-Yellow / Sub-YellowEarly Mid

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

When to Plant Potatoes

The potato is a tuberous vegetable of cold season, whose growth and yield are favored by the relatively low temperatures and cool weather.

The growing seasons of the plant are mainly two:

  • The winter (spring)
  • And the summer (autumn)

Winter cultivation, for areas with a Mediterranean climate, starts from November – December to March, while summer cultivation from July to September.

It is understandable that the climate of any suitable place for growing potatoes is crucial for the exact time of sowing.

So, the milder this is, the earlier winter crops will start, while the colder the summer, the earlier summer crops will start.

What the amateur gardener is advised to take into account is that the biological cycle of the potato is completed for most marketable varieties in about three to four months, and during this time it should avoid exposing the plants to frosts but also at very high temperatures – weather phenomena that if they prevail will damage or even completely destroy the crop.

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden
Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

The Seed Potato

The question could be purely philosophical: What is the seed potato after all? Strange as it may sound, it is not the normal, botanical seed of the plant but its modificated underground stem called tuber.

And the botanical seed of the potato (true potato seed), ie the product of the sexual reproduction of the plant, is used only or mainly by the breeders – geneticists to create new varieties, and the Potato – tuber is used by amateur and commercial growers for the sowing and production of edible potatoes in the field and in the home vegetable garden. 

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Seed Potato Supply

The supply of potato seeds includes two sources, the field and the market, ie a selection of the last season produced potato seeds and the certified one.

It therefore excludes a third, namely the supply of potato seeds from the Greengrocer or Supermarket, because the potatoes offered in these stores may have undergone various treatments, including some completely unfavorable for the germination of tubers (sprout inhibitors).

Selection of the Last Season Produced Potato Seeds

Many of the experienced gardeners but also several of the potato producers use a selection of seed potatoes, which they have chosen among the strongest plants of the previous potato cultivation.

One of the many advantages of this type seed potato is the almost zero cost for its supply, while one of its main disadvantages is the relative uncertainty as to whether the seed potato is completely free of pathogens.

Certified Seed Potato

Many growers, on the other hand, prefer to procure certified seed potato from suppliers, agrocenters and garden centers.

A very serious disadvantage of certified potato seeds is the fact that unfortunately they have to spend money to buy it, while the many advantages include the certainty of the selected variety and the release of its tubers from pests and diseases.

The certified potato seed has on its packaging a characteristic blue label, while it is available with tubers whose diameter varies between 28 and 60 mm.

Amount of Seed Potatoes

The amount will be provided by the amateur gardener depends mainly on the size of the tubers to be planted. If the tubers are small (diameter 28-35 mm), will needs about 15 to 18 Kg per 100 m2 (33-40 lb per 1076 sq ft), if they are medium – large (diameter 35-55 mm) will needs about 20 to 23 Kg per 100 m2 (44-50 lb per 1076 sq ft), while if it is medium – very large size (diameter 35-60 mm) will needs about 23 to 25 Kg per 100 m2 (50-55 lb per 1076 sq ft).

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Pre-Sprouting & Cutting Seed

Before proceeding to the final stage of planting the potato in the vegetable garden, the amateur gardener should prepare the tubers supplied properly. And the proper preparation of the tubers involves two tasks:

  • Pre-Sprouting (green sprouting or chitting)
  • And their cutting

Pre-sprouting achieves the early maturation of about 15 days, the uniformity of production as well as higher yields of the crop, while the cutting (which is not recommended in all cases) increases the propagating material, taking into account that it is applied only to tubers of which the diameter is greater than 45 mm.

The Pre-Sprouting of Seed Potatoes

The tubers are arranged in one layer in vegetable wooden trays, slightly carved at the base, sprayed with a solution of vinegar or wine with water in a ratio of 1: 1, and placed indoors, where every 4 to 5 days they are turned over.

The indoor space should have very good air circulation, receive indirectly plenty of sunlight, have high relative humidity, and the prevailing temperature should be between 8 and 20 °C, with an excellent one of 12 to 13 °C.

In these conditions, which contribute to the formation of hardened and thick sprouts, the top buds of the tubers grows first – sometimes even before green sprouting treatment. However, they must be removed (even after the end of pre-sprouting, unless otherwise done) to allow uniform sprouting for the rest.

When this really happens and each tuber has 3-4 expanded sprouts 1 to 2 cm long, then it is ready for planting.

The same process of chitting can be carried out outdoors, in areas where the climate is warm, with the tubers also placed in wooden trays and covered with polyethylene plastic sheet.

However, either outdoors or indoors, the sprouting has taken place, the tubers must in no way watering until the planting phase.

Cutting Seed Potatoes

The best time to cutting the seed potatoes is in the early stages of bud development or immediately after sprouting.

The tubers to be cut are cut into two pieces lengthwise, from top to bottom, for even distribution of the buds. However, the large seed potatoes are cut into four pieces weighing at least 40 g each and having at least 1 to 2 eyes, while care is taken to separate seedpieces of the top from those of the base.

This is because the pieces of the base produce later than those of the top, and therefore it is recommended to plant them all together in a separate area of the part of the vegetable garden intended for growing potatoes.

Cutting is done with at least two sharp knives, which are dipped in disinfectant (alcohol or bleach solution with 5 to 10 ml in one liter of water), and used alternately.

Treatments of the Cutting Seed Potatoes

The pieces of tubers are ready for planting when the surface of the incisions is corked. To promote corking, it is recommended to store the seed potatoes which have been cut for 7 to 10 days, exposed to temperatures ranging from 10 to 19 ° C, and in an area with excellent air circulation and high relative humidity ranging from 85 to 90%.

Alternatively, if the amateur gardener does not have the appropriate infrastructure for the above, he can use durable paper or cloth grocery bags for the no-spruted seed potato, where he/she will put up to 2 kg of cut tubers in each one.

He will close the bags by folding them and leave them at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Then he/she will shake them to remove any cut tubers that have stuck together, leave them for another 2 to 3 days and then either submit the cut potato seeds to the green sprouting process or plant them.

For the prevention of diseases, and while the seed potatoes which have been cut is still in the bags, it can add sulfur, and with shaking to distribute it evenly.

Also, for gardeners who are unaware of the danger or the opposite, they are absolutely sure that their garden soil meets the requirements of temperature, humidity and air circulation, they can plant it immediately after the seed potatoes had been cut.

If it rots, it will undoubtedly be the fault of some astrologically retrograde planet.

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Cutting Potatoes Ready For Planting
Cutting Potatoes Ready For Planting

Soil Preparation for Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

An important factor for the successful outcome of the crop, is the work carried out before planting the potato in the garden soil, which of course should be the proper.

Proper Soil for Potato Growing

Potatoes grow in deep (> 60 cm), fertile soils, sandy to loamy, with excellent drainage. As for the soil reaction, the soil pH is sought by those with an acidic to slightly alkaline reaction, with values ranging between 4.8 and 7.5.

However, in areas where the potato scab (Streptomyces scabies) bacterium has been present, the amateur gardener should either choose potato varieties that are resistant to the pathogen (e.g. Burren or Russet Burbank), or to grow in soil with a pH deterrent to its growth, and such is one that takes values between 5.2 to 5.4 to 5.5.

Otherwise, the – at the rest – brave gardener will deservedly receive the honorary title of kamikaze potato grower.

Succession Cropping

It is not at all a productive choice for the potato to be grown successively in the same field or in the same part of the garden. It is also not recommended to be planted after cultivation of other plants of the Solanaceae family, ie after cultivation of tomato, eggplant, or pepper, but also strawberry (Rosaceae family).

Conversely, potato cultivation benefits if it is preceded by legume cultivation (e.g. Chickpeas) – except beans and peas. Legumes enrich the soil with nutrients, especially nitrogen, reducing the amount of fertilizer that will be given to the potato by up to 20%.

Soil Preparation

Soil preparation work for planting potatoes begins with the removal of gravel, stones and any residues from previous cultivation.

Then, and if the field or garden has mellow soil (in summer planting will need to be preceded by irrigation), deep plowing is done up to 60 cm – depending on the soil type.

After about 3 weeks, disking or milling is carried out, where digested manure or neutral reaction compost is incorporated in quantities of 200 to 300 kg per 100 m2, together with the basic fertilization, for which it is indicated that 4 kg of Ammonia Sulfate is added (21- 0-0), 5-6 kg Single Superphosphate (0-20-0) and 4-6 kg Potassium Sulfate (0-0-48 / 50) per 100 m2.

Finally, the soil is leveled and the planting furrows are opened.

… But what are the distances between the furrows?

The answer is given immediately or almost immediately below.

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden - The Spunta Variety of Irish Potato
The Spunta Variety of Irish Potato
Medium Sized Potato Tubers

Potato Part 1

Carbohydrates of Potato

Potato protein - Potato Red, Purple, White

Potato Part 2

Proteins & Amino Acids of Potato

Dietary Fiber In Potatoes - Potatoes on the Bench - Credits Jodiwilli

Potato Part 3

Lipids & Dietary Fibers of Potato

Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden

Once the propagating material is ready and the soil working with the addition of organic soil conditioners and basic fertilizers has been completed, the amateur gardener can now proceed to plant the potatoes in vegetable garden.

Planting takes place when the soil temperature is from 4 to 7 °C and above. Lower temperatures do not favor the start of cultivation, while temperatures below -1 °C destroy the potato.

In terms of spacing and planting depth, they depend on the type of soil, the characteristics of each variety, as well as the size of the (cut) seed potato.

Generally recommended to the amateur gardener:

  • Do not donate to this site, as its contributors are very rich and have plenty of free time to write
  • Plant the potatoes at distances ranging from 60 to 90 cm between the rows / furrows, while on the rows / furrows at distances ranging from 25 to 35 cm

In relation to how deep the seed potato is planted, the best practice is that in the light – sandy soils it is planted at a greater depth while in the heavier – loamy soils at a smaller.   

In all cases the planting depth is between 5 and 20 cm, but usually most potato varieties are planted at a depth of between 12 and 20 cm.

Also, the amateur gardener should keep in mind that cut seed tubers are always planted with the cutting surface facing down.

References

The References of the article entitled Planting Potatoes in Vegetable Garden are alongside presented by the Colombian ensemble Grupo La Vuelta Andina with the song Fiesta En Corralejas.

  1. Gopal, J., & Khurana, S. (2006). Handbook of potato production, improvement, and Postharvest management. CRC Press.
  2. Jong, H. D., Jong, W. D., & Sieczka, J. B. (2011). The Complete Book Of Potatoes: What Every Grower And Gardener Needs To Know. Timber Press.
  3. NPCS Board of Consultants & Engineers. (2007). Potato And Potato Products Cultivation, Seed Production, Manuring, Harvesting, Organic Farming, Storage And Processing. NIIR PROJECT CONSULTANCY SERVICES.
  4. Wale, S. J., Platt, H. W., & Cattlin, N. D. (2008). Diseases, Pests And Disorders Of Potatoes: A Color Handbook(1st ed.). CRC Press.
  5. Χα, Ι., & Πετρόπουλος, Σ. (2014). Γενική Λαχανοκομία και Υπαίθρια Καλλιέργεια Λαχανικών [Principles of Vegetable Production and Field Cultivation of Vegetables]. Βόλος: Πανεπιστημιακές Εκδόσεις Θεσσαλίας

With Pomp and Circumstance

After Columbus, the Colombian ensemble Grupo La Vuelta Andina with their song Fiesta En Corralejas.

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