Why not plant potatoes?

So I like to do a little gardening.  Not a lot, I’m getting older,  just enough to have some fun.  Always tomatoes, which I don’t like raw, but  like them cooked in sooo many ways.  Did you know you can freeze the extras and put them in things when the snow flies and it’s cold?  They get totally mushy, but you’re going to add them to soups and sauces, not make  a sandwich.   Just wash and core, cut them  up or quarter them  if you like, and stick them in zip closure plastic bags.  They’ll freeze in such a way that you can get a few pieces loose by banging the bag on the counter a little.

I always grow a few hot peppers, jalapeno or cayenne.  I have to plant them in pots cos one year I put them directly in the ground and would you believe bugs ate the plants?  Made lace of the leaves, then the  lace went away. Good hearty bugs here in PA.

Last year I tried squash, little yellow necks, but I didn’t realize how much room those plants would take up.  No more, don’t like squash THAT much.   I always grow some parsley, dill and basil.  I like to put basil in just about everything….well, not oatmeal.

Last year early in the season a friend asked me if I ever tried to grow potatoes.  Well, I had never even thought about it.  I had to be taught how to plant them!

I used one potato that had been left to go to sprout.  There need to be 2 sprout eyes on each piece you plant, one for stems and one for roots. I cut the one potato into 3 pieces,with 2 sprouts on each.

Dig a big hole.  12 or so inches deep.  Lay the dirt from the hole off to the side, cos you’ll need it later.  Put one potato piece in the hole and just barely cover with soil.  Then just wait……

In about a week,  leaves will appear at the bottom of the hole. The plant has begun to make roots and now will send leaves above the ground line, down in the hole.  Roots mean potatoes!  As the leaves turn to stems, and get taller, start putting some of the ground you saved into the hole.  Put it around the plant, mounding it up around the new stems as they get taller. Never cover the little plant up,  just mound some more ground around it.  Keep doing that as the plant gets taller, eventually above the real ground line surrounding the plant.

After a while the plant will be at ground level and will eventually get about a foot tall, and will probably fall over. That’s ok. They will flower about mid summer, and that’s ok, there’s no need to pick the flowers off.  All the while, as you mounded up ground, those roots that were spreading out down under have formed potatoes.  Give them a good bit of water, tubers need it to fill out and make more roots.

You’ll know when it’s time to dig up your potatoes, cos the plants will tell you!  They’ll start to die off, probably about the end of August.  Time to harvest your potatoes!  Dig down into the ground carefully so you don’t cut them up.  They taste better than the ones in stores cos you grew them yourself.  Gives new meaning to the word New Potatoes, harvested out in the garden this morning, cooked tonight.

You can wash them off right away, and then be sure to lay them out in the sun for a couple hours to dry.  Keeping them wet will cause them to rot.

I started with 1 regular white potato as an experiment, cut it into 3 pieces, all 3 grew, and I ended up with 9 nice sized potatoes.  I learned that I had probably planted them too close together. Give them about 2′  between. I’ll plant more this year.

Get out the butter and fire up the grill,  you have new potatoes.

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