Days to Harvest: 2 to 4 months.
Light: Full/Part Sun.
Temperature: Cold season.
Plants to Avoid: Sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumbers.
Preparation: If seed potatoes are the size of an egg or smaller, plant whole. Cut larger potatoes into 2-inch pieces that have 2 or 3 eyes on each piece. Cut them a day or two before you plant so they have time to cure.
Planting: Grow potatoes in soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. Potatoes grown in a soil with a higher pH can been prone to a disease called “scab,” which produces rough spots on the potato. Adding compost or peat will help. Don’t plant potatoes where tomatoes or eggplant were grown the year before. These are in the same family as potatoes and can attract similar pests and problems.
Traditional Trench Method: Dig a shallow trench, about 6 inches deep and place seed potatoes in with eyes facing up. Cover with a couple inches of soil. As they grow, gather dirt towards the center of your trench to create a hill around the leafy plant. Keep hilling for every 4 to 6 inches of new growth. Stop hilling when plants begin to flower.
Straw Bale/Mulch Method: This is one of the easiest ways to grow potatoes, and requires no digging or heavy cleaning when you harvest. First, loosen soil and lay potatoes on top. Then, cover potatoes with a good 6 inches of organic material, such as straw or leaf mulch. As plants grow, continue to hill up with mulch.
Spacing: 12 to 18 inches apart, depending on type. Fingerling plants can get quite large, so don’t be deceived by their potato size. 30 inches between rows.
Water: An inch a week.
Harvest: The entire crop is ready to harvest when the tops of the plants die back. You can leave the potatoes in the ground for a few weeks longer, as long as the ground is not wet. New potatoes are small, immature potatoes. You can harvest a few of these without harm to the plant by gently feeling around in the soil near the plant, once it begins to flower.Harvest carefully, by hand or with a shovel (definitely don't use a fork, to avoid piercing your potatoes!). Turn the soil over and search through for spuds.
Tips: Buy certified, disease-free seed potatoes. Planting potatoes from the grocery store is a gamble. Besides the disease problem, potatoes, like many produce aisle vegetables, are often treated with a growth inhibitor to keep them from sprouting.