You should not use old potatoes to grow your potato crop. Old potatoes from your cellar may have organisms, even if they appear healthy. Purchase certified seed potatoes which are free of disease from a garden store.
- The seed potatoes you will purchase will contain some small potatoes. Leave these alone. You will plant these small seed potatoes whole. The large seed potatoes that you purchase should be cut into two or three pieces. When cutting, you should make sure that each piece has at least two or three buds. You should cut your potatoes about two days prior to planting. Allow them to set in a warm place. This will give the potatoes time to heal over from the cutting.
- Soil that is used for growing potatoes needs to be full of organic matter. This can include well-rotted manure and leaves. If your soil is heavy, you can add a few cubic feet of sand to the soil to lighten it up.
- The easy way to plant potatoes is to make a six feet wide bed. The bed can be as long as you want it to be depending on how many potato plants you want to grow. Cultivate the soil so that it is slightly rounded. This will allow for good drainage.
- Place your potato pieces cut-side down into the soil. Space them about 12 inches apart. You should firmly press them into the soil without smashing them.
- Instead of covering them with soil, spread hay, shredded leaves or straw over them. Try to have this layer of covering at least 12 to 18 inches deep.
- If your area is prone to high winds, you can lay wire, boards, or a thin layer of garden soil to hold your hay, leaves or straw in place.
- Water once a week and keep the area free of weeds.
- To harvest your potatoes, wait until the vines are dry and dead. Rake back the layer of mulch material you used and simply pick up your crop. You may want to check down a few inches into the soil to make sure there are not any potatoes there that you may be missing.
- Allow the potatoes to dry out for about three hours before you store them. Potatoes that will be used within six weeks of harvesting can be stored in a dark area that has a temperature that is no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Potatoes that will be stored for winter should be kept in a dark area that doesn't get above 40 degrees.