Proper potato planting may increase your harvest
Are you getting sick of store-bought potatoes? Well, we understand because many of them are tasteless with flowery texture no one likes. If you can grow your own potato you are in luck. Potato planting time is just around the corner and many dedicated gardeners have already completed this job. If you are still hesitating, you should know that potatoes with 1 to 2 cm long sprouts should go to ground as soon as possible. The depth of the row should be deep enough to cover the tuber – 1 to 2 cm of soil above the tuber should be enough. Do not forget to keep covering sprouting potatoes with soil and you should also be ready to fight the Colorado potato beetle and provide adequate care during the growing process. We shall focus on the most important steps in this article. Let us start with the planting date and proceed from there.
Planting date is very important
When should tubers go in the ground? Well, it depends on the outside temperature and the weather of course, but the common planting date is usually between the end of March and mid-May. The most important thing is that the soil is warm – between 6 to 8 degrees Celsius at a depth of one centimetre. It should not be too wet, but based on the weather that we have seen for the past several years, it should not be problem. If the soil contains large coarse clods, break them apart with your hand.
Fine soil will not stick to tools so easy. If you live in a higher area, use a non-woven fabric to cover the soil to keep it warm.
The type of potato you choose is important
Regular potatoes sold for consumption should not be planted at all because they are specially treated to suppress germination. They may not germinate at all. But there is a plethora of potato types you can choose from – more than 160 types. As already said, potato sprouts should be between 1 and 2 cm in size.Longer sprouts could break away forcing the potato to sprout again, which makes the potato weaker. Make sure there is no whitish coating on sprout potatoes and no signs of visible damage.
Photo: Radek Štěpán
The soil for potatoes needs to be prepared in advance. First, you should rid the entire area of weeds. Then you should work the soil to aerate and loose it down to a depth of around 15 to 20 cm. Potatoes need soil that is loose and permeable to grow properly. A cultivator or an electric hoe are ideal tools for soil loosening. When the soil is loose enough make raised rows and plant potatoes into individual holes.
Photo: Radek Štěpán
What is the correct depth and spacing?
Each potato should be spaced 20 to 30 cm apart. Even raised rows should follow the same rule. Deeper is not better. No more than 2 cm of soil should cover each tuber and individual lines should be about 65 to 70 cm apart Plants must get a sufficient light and air and you should make sure that buds are facing up. If the buds do not face up, the growth will be delayed. Planted rows should be between 7 and 15 cm high. Make sure that the rows are straight along their entire length. Finally, water the rows and keep them properly moist.
Potatoes require nutrients
Both organic and mineral fertilization are great for potatoes. Matured manure or compost is preferred. If you use mineral fertilizers, you may use Cererite, for example. Some people also use potassium sulphate. Any fertilizer should be worked well into the soil – a rotavator, if used carefully, is a great machine to do the job.
Watch out for weeds
You should not spray against weeds during the growing period. Manual removal is best. You may also try a rotary weeder for example.
Preview photo: Radek Štěpán
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