How to Cut and Plant Potatoes
Kevin Felts 03.27.18
Potatoes are a staple food pretty much all over the world. First cultivated in the New World, potatoes were brought to Europe by early explorers. It took the wonderful spud a little while to catch on, but when it did, people realized what they had been missing out on.
While most plants are grown from seeds, potatoes are grown from other potatoes. When a potato is ready to be planted it will sprout eyes. No, they do not look like real eyes, they look like buds. The potatoes used to grow potatoes are called “seed potatoes.” We talked about picking out seed potatoes in another article here on AllOutdoor – How To Pick seed Potatoes.
Cutting Seed Potatoes
Look at the seed potato. Are there any sprouts (eyes) coming off of it? We want to cut the eye off along with a chunk of potato. The chunk and eye will be planted.
Think of it this way: the chunk of potato provides nutrients to the eye and roots until the plant gets established. So each eye should have a nice sized chunk of potato with it, but not a large chunk.
Some people cut their spuds several days before planting, and then dip the cuttings in lime or fireplace ashes. I have tried dipping the cutting in fireplace ash, but found no improvement in crop output.
Usually, I cut the seed potatoes the day they are planted, or a couple of days before planting.
Potatoes are probably one of the easiest food crops to grow. All someone needs is well drained soil free of rocks and other obstructions. Soil with a slight sandy content is usually great. Use a tractor or garden tiller to work the soil and get as many of the clumps out as you can. If any rocks are visible, pull them out of the soil and toss them to the side.
There is an old saying that to plant the cutting the width of a hand deep. So, plant the cuttings around three inches deep.
Some people build mounds to plant their spuds in. I plant my seed potatoes just under the surface with no mound. As the plant grows I will work the soil up around the plant. This provides a mound for the potatoes to grow in, without the mound being excessively large.
Use a well rounded fertilizer such as 13-13-13 would be good to start with. Six weeks after the first application, a second application of fertilizer can be spread and worked into the mound. This is called side dressing. Side dress the plant with something like 10-20-10. The higher bone meal (phosphorus) content will help tubers form.
Try to apply the second application of fertilizer just before a good rain.
A lot of people ask when potatoes should be harvested?
The simple answer is, “When the plant dies.”
We will get into harvesting and storing potatoes later in the year.
As my potatoes progress frequent updates will be posted. They can be a lot of work to grow, but are well worth it. The only real work is making the mound as the top grows.