Growing potatoes at home is so easy, that I have to admit I was surprised at how a novice vegetable gardener like myself could grow potatoes from sprouts that had formed on my potatoes in my potato basket.
I had not made potatoes in a long time and what few potatoes I had in my basket were sprouting. On a whim I decided to cut those sprouted eyes out of the potatoes and literally stuck them in soil with the sprouts facing up. I thought what the heck, if nothing happened I only lost a few potatoes. And I forgot about it. Within 3 weeks I saw small leafy plants appear from all the potato nodes! Then a month after we planted the potato eyes, the potato plants were big and beautiful and green.
Periodically Anjali would check on these sprouts and dig around gently in the soil to see if any potatoes were developing and she would find tiny little potatoes the size of pearls. She would just put the potato plant back in the soil and let the plants continue to grow.
This was the easy part. We then had to figure out how long it would take for the potatoes to grow larger and how would we know when to harvest the potatoes? I did some research and found many varying answers to this question.
Basically, it takes approximately 3 – 4 months for the potatoes to become nice and big and ready for harvest. Some web sites recommend to wait for the fall timeframe to harvest, other sites suggested to harvest when the plants form flowers, while others recommend to wait till the blooms wilt and the plants dry up before harvesting. Honestly, it was all too confusing. So I took it upon myself to use my own gardening knowledge to figure it out for myself.
We waited three months after the plants formed flowers and then dug around to check for potatoes. We actually got some good-sized potatoes – tons of them! We harvested a few to try them out, and realized that some were not ready – they were too hard and took forever to cook.
We reaized that if the potatoes are green at the tips they are still young and not ready to be harvested. Our potatoes were ready when the potatoes were golden in color (this is the variety that I planted).
I read online that once you plant potatoes, you will have an endless supply of potatoes that you may not have to buy any every again. I can attest to this fact, you WILL have an endless supply of potatoes forever! I find that to be true! More than a year after I planted my first little sprouted eyes of potatoes, I still find potatoes in my potato patch.
This past January to my surprise when I was cleaning the potato bed for the winter, I saw potatoes popping up in the soil as I removed spent leaves and stalks.
I collected enough potatoes back in January to make a large pot of roasted potatoes! This was a very nice winter garden surprise.
If you are interested in growing a few of your favorite potatoes at home, here is a quick tutorial from a novice vegetable gardener like myself.
How to grow your own potatoes:
Cut out the sprouted eyes from potatoes that you would like to grow at home. Plant these eyes in an area where you are okay “digging” around when the potatoes are ready. I planted mine in one raised bed where we knew we were okay with other plants getting disrupted when we rummage for potatoes. Gently water periodically to keep the soil moist. Within a couple of weeks you should see little sprouts. These sprouts will develop into potato plants and will get larger over time.
Three months after you have planted your potato sprouts, check for potato development. The best way to check is to gently dig around the plant and see if you feel any potatoes under the soil. Anjali and I like to rummage with our hands in the soil. If you feel decent size potatoes you can dig them out. If the potato is tiny, just stick the potato and plant back in the soil and pat down with soil, and wait for the potato to get bigger, probably in another month.
If the potatoes look green, they are not ready. Leave them in the soil. If you dug them out by mistake, just place the potato along with the stalk and roots back in the soil and it should continue to grow.
If the potatoes are overly dark, they are overripe and should be thrown away.
Sometimes the potato plants will start wilting and leaves will turn yellow and dry, that’s when you know the potatoes are ready. Other times, we just dug around in the soil and found potatoes that were big and yellow and we pulled them out. Occasionally when you are harvesting you may feel a bunch of large potatoes that are buried deeper in the soil, you may have to use a shovel or a pruner to dig them out.
The best time to start growing potatoes is in late winter in the February/March timeframe. Potatoes will be ready for harvest by late summer. But don’t fret if you missed the cool temperature planting opportunity. I find that you can plant potatoes any time of the year.
One more tip. Plant a variety of potato that you really like. This way you will get a long lasting supply of homegrown potatoes of your favorite potato. Here is a recipe I posted last year using our first harvest of homegrown potatoes. Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Using Homegrown Potatoes
For more information on growing potatoes in your home garden, here are a few more tips that you may find helpful. When are potatoes ready to be pulled? How to harvest potatoes When to harvest my potatoes? Growing Potatoes Tutorial
Happy Potato Growing!