Planting or laying potatoes – that’s how it’s done

Potatoe harvest
Potatoe harvest

Laying or planting potatoes means nothing more than planting the tubers. And with these tips, it’s very easy to do. After planting, potatoes hardly need any care except for one important measure.

Sometimes colorful, sometimes with unusual shapes: The range of varieties is huge, and both old and new potato varieties are becoming more and more sought after and popular in the garden. As a rule, you can’t get such varieties in the supermarket. Fortunately, the potato is a easy to care for vegetable and for planting you can find a place in any garden. Even on the balcony you can harvest, if you grow the tubers in the tub.

In a nutshell: Laying or planting potatoes

Laying or planting potatoes means planting them in the bed. Planting is done between April and May. Plant the tubers about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) deep and 35 cm (14 in) apart in loose, nutrient-rich soil that is free of weeds. Make sure there is a spacing of 60 to 70 cm (24 to 28 in) between rows. Pre-sprouted potatoes grow into particularly robust plants and are ready for harvest earlier.

When is it safe to lay potatoes?

Depending on the region and temperature, you can plant the tubers from April to early May, in mild regions, of course, earlier than in harsh mountainous regions. In any case, the soil should already be a good 10 °C / 50 °F. If there is a risk of frost, protect the potatoes with a fleece.

If you want to store the potatoes later, lay the tubers only in May, when the soil is nice and warm. Many farmers rely on the saying “If you plant me in April, I’ll come when I want. If you plant me in May, I’ll come right away”. This is confirmed in practice: potatoes planted in warmer soil from the beginning of May grow much faster and, above all, more evenly, and quickly make up for the shortfall compared with tubers planted earlier.

Potatoes from your own garden
Potatoes from your own garden

Does pre-sprouting potatoes before planting make sense?

Pre-sprouted potatoes grow into particularly robust plants that cope well with cooler soil temperatures after planting in April and continue to grow immediately, yields can be up to 20 percent higher. This is especially noticeable when growing early potatoes in the garden. Place the potatoes up to halfway in shallow trays of potting soil and set them at 10 °C / 68 °F until dark green buds form. Then the potatoes need light, but cooler temperatures of 10 to 12 °C / 50 to 54 °F.

How to prepare the soil for planting potatoes?

Potatoes like light to medium, deep soils without waterlogging. Sandy soils are loose, but should be enriched and improved with plenty of mature manure and compost. This is because potatoes, as a high-yielding vegetable, produce lower yields on poor soils. Dig up firm soils two weeks before planting potatoes, working in humus. Remove stones and root weeds at the same time.

Potatoes love the sun, are hungry and get three liters of compost – that’s a shovel full – and a handful of horn shavings per square meter (11 sq ft) in the bed.

If the soil is deeply loose, work in the humus with a cultivator. Until the potatoes are planted, weeds will still germinate, which you simply remove with a hoe.

The rows are ideally located in an east-west direction, then the soil warms up more quickly. You should not grow potatoes and tomatoes in close proximity, as diseases such as leaf blight affect both crops.

How deep should you set seed potatoes?

Place both pre-sprouted and untreated tubers in a 10-15 cm (4 to 6 in) deep furrow. You can even place tubers that have been cut in half, once their cut surface has dried. Cover the potatoes with some soil, so the furrow can still remain recognizable as such. For harvesting on the balcony, place one or more tubers in a tub and always top up with soil when the plants have grown another 10 cm (4 in).

Laying potatoes: The correct planting distance

Plant the potatoes in a furrow a good 30 to 35 cm (12 to 14 in) apart and cover them with fine crumb soil. Keep a distance of 60 to 70 cm (24 to 28 in) between the individual rows, so that later there is enough space and also soil for mounding the young plants. For before you start mounding the potatoes, hoe or dig the soil thoroughly so that you can remove the weeds more easily. With the loosened soil, mounding the plants is also much easier.

How to care for newly planted potatoes?

If frost threatens after planting potatoes, cover the bed with protective fleece. When the sprouts become visible, apply more soil and close the furrow with it. If frosts are still threatening by mid-May, cover the bed with fleece again. As soon as the plants are a good 20 cm (8 in) high – usually at the end of May – pile up the rows, simply pulling up the soil between the rows to form a dam. There are special hand tools for this, but a hoe or, if necessary, a shovel will also do. In the dam the soil is loose and warm, in it most of the new tubers will form. Carefully loosen the soil next to the dam from time to time. So, in case of drought, water generously, preferably in the morning, so that the soil is dry again by the evening. Do not water over the leaves; this encourages leaf blight. Once they have sprouted, potatoes should be fertilized. Diluted nettle manure is suitable for this purpose.

About three months after planting, potatoes enter their natural dormancy period and the above-ground parts dry up – the starting signal to harvest the potatoes. Harvesting starts in June with early varieties and ends in October with late varieties.

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