We’ve all been there—you buy a bag of potatoes, pop them in the pantry, and then promptly forget about them. Then, the next time you open up the pantry you discover said potatoes have started sprouting alien-like appendages.
Well, these potato sprouts are the beginnings of what can be a large harvest in just a few months! Of course, you can find a great selection of potato varieties from a seed catalog, however, if potatoes you buy from the store do manage to sprout, plant them!
H-G Plant Food
If you don’t already have some accidentally sprouted potatoes, place a handful in a dark place and check on them every week or so.
Once you’ve got a few sprouting potatoes on your hands, here’s how to make like Matt Damon on Mars and grow a hearty potato crop at home:
When to Plant Potatoes
Potatoes prefer cool weather and can be planted as soon as mid-April or about six weeks before the average last frost date. Soil temps of 45 to 55 degrees F are ideal.
Prepping Potatoes for Planting
Two days before planting, slice larger potatoes into smaller pieces. Each piece should contain at least one eye or bud. You can plant potatoes whole if they are smaller in size than a golf ball. In a day or so, the potatoes will form a thick callous over the cuts, which will help prevent rotting.
Planting Store-Bought Potatoes
Fill a 5-gallon bucket or other large container with adequate drainage holes at the base with potting soil and place in a location that receives full sun. Match the number of potatoes to the size of container you are growing them in. Each potato plant needs about 2.5 gallons to grow into. A typical garbage can-sized container would hold four plants while a 5-gallon bucket would hold two.
Caring for Potatoes
Keep your potatoes well-watered, especially during the period when the plants are flowering. During this flowering period the plants are creating their tubers and a steady water supply is crucial to good crop outcome.
Actively growing potato plants also benefit from liquid feedings during their growing time. Use H-G Plant Food formulated specifically for this purpose. This will ensure there is not prolific growth of new greenery at the expense of the spud’s root development. Simply apply one spray pump of H-G Plant-Food on plant foliage and soil media every 7-14 days for optimal growth.
As the potato plant grows, you’ll need to cover the new growth to facilitate more potatoes. Once the plant has grown above the top of the soil, add a few inches of new soil until just the tip of the plant is showing. This will encourage the plant to keep growing upward and to set more potatoes along the stem that’s underground.
When to Harvest Potatoes
When the foliage turns yellow and begins to die back, discontinue watering. This will help start curing the potatoes for harvest time. Baby potatoes typically can be harvested two weeks after the plants have finished flowering. For mature potatoes, wait three weeks after the plant’s foliage has died back. If you aren’t sure whether your potatoes are ready for harvest, all you need to do is feel around for the potatoes and pull free those that are at least the size of an egg, or leave them if you want them to get bigger.
With care, patience, and H-G Plant Food formulated specifically for roots, you are well on your way to increased yield, improved quality, and larger potatoes!