Although relatively inexpensive to purchase, growing your own healthy, organic potatoes will protect you from toxic pesticide contamination of commercially grown potatoes.
- Common name: Potato
- Botanical Name: Solanum tuberosum
- Indian names: Aalu (Hindi), Urulai (Tamil)
- Vegetable type: Tuber
- Varieties: Irish Cobbler, Chieftain, Viking, Rosa, Sebago, Elba.
Potatoes are one of the most widely produced crops in the world, especially in the temperate countries of Europe and America, as it prefers a cooler climate to grow. A culinary staple, Potatoes are every chef’s favorite as they can be prepared boiled, mashed, fried, baked, stewed as well as steamed!
- Life-Cycle: Perennial
- Height: about 3 feet
- Width/Spacing: about to 4 feet
- Flowering season: late Spring, Summer season
- Flower: Star-shaped flowers in white, pink or light blue colors with yellow centers.
- Foliage: sprawling, almost vine-like foliage.
Planting/Growing Potato details:
- Sunlight: partial sun/shade – around 3-4 hours of morning/evening sunlight with some afternoon shade.
- Water: regularly- whenever top-soil turns dry. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, to avoid fungal-diseases which can develop due to over-watering.
- Sowing season: Winter season. The cool climate will prevent the breeding of pests. For northern India, the ideal period to plant potatoes is a week or two prior to the frost.
- Sowing method: Plant the potato seeds at a spacing of about 3 feet and a depth of about 4 inches.
Potatoes should be planted far enough so they wouldn’t run into each other underground. Assemble some mound of soil around the base of the plant as it keeps growing. This process of “Hilling” will protect the potatoes from sunburns as well as prevent them from turning green, bitter and slightly toxic.
Pests such as aphids and blight may cause holes or yellowing in the potato leaves. In such case, use organic pesticides like Neem-oil to get rid of the pests. Read Neem Organic Insecticide and Organic Pest Control Methods in Gardens for further information on Organic Pesticides. If problem persists further, then contact our Garden maintenance service @GreenMyLife to get rid of pests effectively.
Potatoes should be ready to harvest about 7 to 8 weeks from planting. When the vine leaves attain a yellowish hue and wilt, it is an indication to harvest the potatoes. Harvest potatoes on a dry day as the soil will not be compact.
Don’t harvest green potatoes as they are poisonous in large quantities. Avoid storing the potatoes with apples as the ethylene gas released from apples will cause potatoes to spoil. Don’t wash your potatoes until right before you use them, as washing shortens their storage life.
- By seeds: developed from small, green tomato-like fruits of a Potato plant.
- By tubers (seed potatoes): Cut small pieces of potatoes having around 2 to 3 ‘eyes’ on them, and store them for at least 2 days before planting them under-ground. This will give time for the pieces to develop a protective moisture-retention and rot-resistant layer.
Potato plants benefit from ‘chitting’ which is the process of growing shoots on potato tubers prior to planting. Simply place a healthy potato in a cool yet brightly-lit room. This way, the sprouts will grow stocky, sturdy and dark green in about 2 to 4 weeks time. The benefit is that chitting will produce faster growth and heavier crops. Nothing beats that freshly dug, earthy taste of your own home grown potatoes!