Potatoes are hardy plants and a popular choice for vegetable gardens. The plants are highly adaptable to home garden conditions and will yield many potatoes with proper care, although successfully planting potatoes does require some preparation. For the best results, gardeners should choose the right plot for planting potatoes and cultivate the vegetables in sun-drenched and slightly acidic soil. Other tips include purchasing certified seed potatoes to avoid several diseases that attack the plants and giving the vegetables plenty of room to grow by spacing out the seeds.
The best plan for planting potatoes begins with the site selection for the vegetable garden. Potato plants thrive in full sun. Avoid creating a home garden patch in areas shaded by trees or by shadows cast from the house or garage in the afternoon when sunlight is strongest.
Once a site is chosen, create a fertile soil for the potato plants. The soil should be light and drain well. If the area has heavier ground material, such as solid clay, consider tilling the vegetable garden and replacing some of the soil with loam, a lighter alternative that can help the potatoes grow better.
Be sure to check the earth’s pH level while preparing the soil. Potato plants grow best in soil with a pH balance between 5.8 and 6.5. For ground that is not acidic enough, add aluminum sulfate or sulfur to the garden bed; both are available for purchase at garden centers. Aluminum sulfate will immediately decrease the earth’s pH, while sulfur will accomplish that over time. Base the choice on how soon the potatoes will be planted.
Opt for certified seed potatoes when planting potatoes. The certified seedlings guard against diseases that can infect potato plants from the outset. Do not use potatoes from a grocery market; most of them have been treated with chemicals that prohibit eye growth which is needed for new potato plants to sprout. Store the seed potatoes in the refrigerator to stop the eyes from sprouting before planting. Place the plants in a sunny window about a week before planting to kick off the sprouting process.
It is important to choose the proper time for planting potatoes. Generally, the seedlings should not be planted more than two weeks before the last frost. Test the vegetable garden soil; if it can be easily worked, the potato planting can begin. Do not plant the vegetables soon after rain or if the area has a lot of melted snow. Instead, wait until the soil has drained.
Give the potatoes the best chance to grow and thrive by spacing the plantings. Arrange the tubers into rows and allow about 15 inches (38.1 cm) between each plant. Space rows about 24 inches (61 cm) apart.