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Tip of the Week: Growing Potatoes

Here are some tips for growing your own crop of tasty spuds.
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  • Potatoes need full sun and a well-drained fine sandy loam that's high in organic matter.
  • Plant potatoes two weeks before the expected last frost date in your area. (Check with your local agricultural extension agency if you don't know this date.)
  • Prepare potatoes for planting by cutting them into golf ball–size pieces, each with two or three sprouts. (If the potato has only one sprout, leave it whole.) Let the pieces dry overnight.
  • Plant them in rows about three feet apart. Space them six to twelve inches apart within the rows. Plant them four inches deep but cover them with just an inch or two of soil.
  • In most areas and with proper soil, potato plants do not need irrigation. They actually produce better, firmer potatoes without it.
  • Once leaves emerge, begin "hilling" the potatoes. Shovel soil from between the rows around the growing stems to support them and to keep the shallow tubers shaded from the sun. Hill plants at least twice, but stop working close to the plants once they are ten inches high.
  • Harvest potatoes by digging them two weeks after the vines have died down, unless the temperature is above 80°F, in which case the ripe potatoes should be picked up right away.
  • Homegrown potatoes can be stored for four to six weeks in a cool and dry place.

Read how to avoid potato diseases.

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