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Potatoes

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Potatoes aren't included in a stereotypical garden, but can be very rewarding to grow. Potatoes are actually very easy to grow, but unless you know how to grow them, you'll end up with a small crop of tiny potatoes, if any potatoes at all. If taken care of properly, a potato plant can supply you with over ten pounds of potatoes! To start with, potatoes aren't grown from seeds, but from other potatoes. However, since most potatoes you'll find in a grocery store are treated to prevent them from sprouting, you must get certified seed potatoes, the potatoes that are raised specifically for gardeners to grow. Organic potatoes often work just as well, but growing from seed potatoes gives you more selection from types of potatoes.

To start, you must prepare the potatoes for planting. Each potato has potential for growing multiple plants. Plant in the spring after a chance of frost. Cut a potato into 3 or more segments, depending on where the eyes are. The eyes of the potato are the little spots. Each piece of potato should have one or two of those spots. After cutting the potato, let it sit for a while so the cut areas may harden. After this, you must prepare the soil for the potatoes. Potatoes are in the same family as tomato plants, and therefore have similar leaves and fruits. However, their fruits are poisonus - so make sure you know which plants are the potatoes and which are the tomatoes. Start by digging a trench at least a foot deep and a foot wide. Keep the soil. The soil should not have many rocks and shouldn't be clay. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the trench and plant potatoes under 3 inches of soil, with the eyes facing up. The potatoes should get water regularly, but make sure to let the soil drain, so the potatoes do not rot. If you feel the need, fertilize lightly with compost, or with weak manure or fertilizer, to make sure that you do not burn the roots.

As your plant grows, you must occasionally fill in the trench. Fill in 3-5 inches at a time, around the plants' stems. This soil is where the potatoes will grow. After around 3 months, your potatoes are probably be ready. Pull out the leafy plant, leaving potatoes in the ground. Carefully pull out the potatoes by digging through the soil with your hands. Brush off the soil and keep out of the sun for about two weeks, so the skins can harden. Alternatively, the potatoes may mature underground. Pull up as many potatoes as you can - if you leave any, they'll probably start growing next year.

Tips

  • By having a deeper trench, you can grow more potatoes, if conditions are right
  • You can also use potatoes that you grew as seed potatoes for next year's crop, or maybe even for a second crop,
  • Don't leave potatoes in the sun, bruise them, or keep them too long - these create a toxin in the potato
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