You Can Grow Organic Potatoes, Even In Hot Climates
You Can Grow Organic Potatoes All Year Long, Even In Hot Climates
It's true, you can grow Organic Potatoes in hot climates and you can grow them the year round.
Here in Texas, with our searing summertime temps, that would seem to be a challenge. But it's not hard to do really, just read along
Did you know that heat causes the potato to go dormant until the weather cools down? So, how does one get around that? Simple. Grow potatoes inside, in a controlled environment. Grow them in a container specifically for growing potatoes. Just take a look at those freshly harvested potatoes. A potato dug from your own garden is always going to taste better than a store bought potato.
Most of today's potatoes are sprayed:
Growing potatoes has changed since we were kids. The days of keeping store bought potatoes until 'eyes' grow on them (sprouts that have developed all over the potato) is no longer a possibility. That's because today's store bought potatoes have been treated with chemical's to keep them from sprouting eyes and even if they do? The sprouts will not grow new plants.
Just like most everything that's not organically grown today, preservatives, sprays, fertilizer's etc are used to give longer shelf life etc. Can all of those chemicals and preservatives really be good for us?
Certified seed potatoes on the other hand, are disease and pesticide free and will produce a healthy bounty.
Compare this nice two pack of grow sacks. with other's on the market. Far superior in construction once they are filled with potting soil and mulch, they will retain their shape very well. Each bag can grow upwards of 100 lbs of fresh potatoes. There is also a handy slot in the side of the bag, to harvest potatoes without digging. Check it out.
Evaluation: Roll the sides of the bag down to start and as the potatoes grow and more soil and mulch is added? Simply roll back up at each step until the bag is unrolled back to it's full height. It's an inexpensive way to grow fresh potatoes without the muss and fuss of a garden.
Spring Gardening Potatoes In A Container
If starting late or it's just too hot?
Growing potatoes in a container is a cinch and any large container works. Nothing fancy is required. I use 'grow bags' (see below) but really, just whatever is handy will work if you wish to save money. I just like the 'grow bags, as they allow me to grow many more potatoes with relative ease and in a controlled environment.
Filling The Grow Bag
Roll the sides of the bag down until only about half of the bag is exposed. Start by filling with a good topsoil base (Organic of course as listed below) and fill the container about 1/3 full. Mix the top soil with about 10% fertilizer. Check pH levels as per explanation above.
Once pH levels are correct:
Drop the cut (and dried) seed potatoes of choice into the container I place them in a circle around the outside of the container adding a few in the middle. Leave each about 5-7" apart. When enough seed potatoes are in place, push them slightly into the soil and again, cover with approximately 3-4" of soil and mulch.
As the plant grows:,
After a couple weeks or so? Unroll the sides of the bag to accommodate the cover (mulch and topsoil that will be necessary to cover the new growth. You want almost all of the growing plant covered,leaving about 4 inches exposed creating once again, a new 'mound.'
Cut three or four drainage holes in the bags as too much water will rot the potatoes. In the picture, the grow bags are shown in the garden, which is ideal for the drainage, but if growing potatoes on a balcony or patio? Put something under the bag for the drainage so it does not drain onto the deck, such as a plant dish available at most garden centers. (See Below) Water and maintain the water levels of at least an inch a week. The soil must remain moist, so be sure to check it and keep it damp but not wet
Potatoes need sunlight to grow
The container must receive sun daily (6 hours at least). and they need to stay warm but not hot, Placing in front of a sliding glass door is good if you can't roll outside. Your planter can be rolled in and out (if on a small dolly) so that the plants can receive plenty of sun--but NOT too much heat.
Remember, potatoes cannot grow without water and sun. Too much of either is bad. That's all there is to it.
A CampingmanNW Tip
Did You Know?
The sprouts (eyes) that grow on potatoes are TOXIC? Always scrub them away before preparing the potato to eat. Also, modern potatoes are sprayed with a chemical before being shipped to market with a growth inhibitor to reduce eye growth, so even if you plant these potatoes? Chances are they will not grow. Who wants chemically grown potatoes anyway?
Only buy Organic Seed Potatoes for planting
Check the soil pH Before Planting Potatoes
The pH level is important
Roughly two weeks or so before you plant, the garden area must be checked for pH (and this is an important step) Use a test strip to do this, as listed above. The soil needs to have a slight acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5. If not, the pH can be raised using Lime. By the same token, if the pH is too high, it can be lowered by using sulfur. However, to get the best pH, make sure the soil contains lots of organic matter. (I save straw bales and allow them to compost just for this purpose)
If pH Level Is Off:
If nothing is available to be added to your soil, add a balanced fertilizer and work it down into the soil completely. Let this soil stand for two or three weeks to allow total absorption of the fertilizer into the soil. (No hot spots so to speak).
To be fair, much of the soil here in Texas,has sufficient phosphorus. All that really means is, I don't have to do much of anything with the soil, so if the pH test shows that it needs none?
All you need than, is a 15-5-10 Ferilizer or one such as I have listed above
I've used Scott's top soils for years, and have always found it to be consistent in both growth ability for my plants and sustainability for long term feeding.
Evaluation: Mix with the Miracle Grow organic fertilizer and you can grow anything but money
Some Pictures of Fresh Potatoes, Yukon's, Kennebec's, and Red Pontiac'sClick thumbnail to view full-size
Planting Organic Seed Potatoes In A Standard Garden
They should be about the size of an egg.
Certified organic seed potatoes are generally the size of an egg If not, never fear, just cut them in half or at least into sections containing at least two eyes (sprouts)
Let them dry for a few days before planting. While the cut seed potatoes are drying, if you haven't mixed the soil and fertilizer? Now would be an opportune time.
Planting the Seed Potatoes
You Can Grow Organic Potatoes All Year Long, Even In Hot Climates, but there are some tricks. Once the cut potatoes are dry and the soil is ready to be planted? Just drop the potatoes in a line (on top of the loose soil) about one to two feet apart. Press them into the loose soil and cover with 3-4" of soil. When all potatoes have been planted, water around each plant and then place about an inch of mulch. (I use straw) to reduce weeds and retain moisture. (Less watering) They will mature and be ready for harvest in somewhere between 70 and 90 days but there are a few more steps.
What to do next
As the plants begin to grown and reach about eight inches or so in height, Cover the new growth up around the stem. Yes cover everything, even the leaves, leaving about 3-4" above ground. ( bury most of the plant) with a mixture of soil and compost. Do this once more as the plant continues to grow. This will create a mound of soil and mulch for the potatoes to grow. Remember mulch helps maintain moisture levels of at least an inch a week. Potatoes should be ready to harvest in 60-90 days, use a garden fork, never a shovel.
Potatoes from the garden are fresher and sweeter for potato salads or just plain baking.
Potatoes Anyone Can Grow -
Remember----There are only a few tricks to growing potatoes. First: Start with good organic seed potatoes. Second: Potatoes need good drainage The potatoes listed here are great for raising in hot climates but can be grown anywhere.
Container And Accessories Corner - Everything you need.
A CampingmanNW Tip: When ordering items from Amazon, consolidate your orders to receive the free shipping. After all, it's NOT about being cheap, it's about shopping smart.
There is no need to make it hard on yourself moving the grow bags around. For the ultimate in ease for patio or balcony gardening. Place your grow bag on top of this and easily wheel in or out of the house for proper sun and or weather exposure.
Evaluation: Takes the worry out of raising potatoes at home. This cart allows you to roll the potato grow bags out for sun or bring them inside if if there is a torrential rain pour or the sun gets too hot. If you purchased the two pack of potato containers (above) grab a couple of these.
When I spoke of a drip pan for indoor or patio container gardening, this is what I was refering to. It's about 14" across, and fits perfectly on the roll around dolly that the container would be on for indoor or patio growing.
Evaluation: No muss no fuss and the floor and patio stay neat and clean. Get a couple of them
Harvesting, Curing and Storing
It's really just a matter of choice
When growing potatoes in a container, there are a couple of ways to harvest your newly grown bounty.
If you grew potatoes in a grow bag, then gently dump the container on to a large plastic mat (to contain not only the potatoes but all of the soil and potting mix). If you choose this method, I suggest you keep in mind that potatoes bruise just like fruit, so take it easy.
My recommended method is to use the trap door in the side of the container, to gently remove potting soil and dirt and your newly grown harvest. The door is there for that very reason (as well as an occasional peek during growing)
Curing and Storing
In order to store potatoes for extended periods, they must be cured in a dark, cool and humid environment first. (I use my garage in the fall, as I have a walled off corner with portable shelves, just for this) Not shown in the picture is I have since mounted wheels on my shelves to move them around.
The reason I use the walled off a room in my garage, (a basement works or an old closet or pantry will work as well) It is important though, regardless of what you choose for drying, that the humidity stays up around 80 or 90% and if your space is un-insulated (like my garage) the temperature needs to stay above the outside air temps but at a range of 40-60 degrees is optimal
A couple of weeks of the potatoes spread all out on the shelves (in the dark) is all it takes. Sort out any that look bad and toss them. (They will spoil good potatoes if you don't)
After sorting, put the remainder in burlap sacks to store. (NOTE:) Using Burlap sacks to store potatoes is my own personal recommendation Some people recommend storing potatoes on shelves (as in the picture) and that is great for short term, but experience has taught me to use burlap sacks for long term because air gets all through it and it keeps the potatoes humid and dark. For great storage? Less light is your friend, as is good humidity and low temps.
Don't be afraid to use a small fan in the room if necessary
Buy American Made - Quality 100% natural jute burlap sacks
If you've never looked, burlap bags are tough to find anymore and most are made in China. Nothing against China, but I want to know what materials are used in the manufacture.These bags listed here are made right here in the good old USA by the L. A. Linen company in Los Angeles, California. These can be used over and over and over. To clean, simply shake out and hang in the sun to let the odors air out and any stains to bleach away.
For the true organic gardener who wants to know where the straw comes from, use what I use. 'Organic Wheat Straw' as mulch around each of the potato plants. This stuff is Guaranteed Organic straw and it will retain moisture and aid in growth
Evaluation: For the 'Organic' gardener, this is the best stuff that I have found and worth it's weight in gold.
Spring Gardening, Potatoes
I thank you for reading today and hope that you take away some small piece of information to aid you in growing your very own fresh potatoes which besides being relatively easy and fun? Is really rewarding.
Just take a look at that small basket of freshly harvested potatoes just waiting to be rinsed and cleaned. Wouldn't you love to have those at your own home? Freshly baked potatoes at dinner, potato salad over the weekend for the cookout? The uses are endless. There is just nothing better than growing your own veggies and doing so, organically. Get anyone and everyone involved and have fun.
Happy growing, stay safe and I'll see you on the trail--CampingmanNW