I have been the proud owner of a garden since last summer. So my family and I are still relative gardening novices. Since we like to try out all kinds of things and always try to do a lot ourselves, the green “four walls” are a great happiness for our little family. We enjoy every second there. It is especially nice to see plants grow and to have a sense of achievement with the harvest. It also opens up space for experimentation: potato cultivation, for example.
In late summer, I was actually too late for planting. But for potatoes, there was still time for winter if conditions were good. Usually, potatoes are planted as early as mid-April, depending on the weather and location. I wanted to try it anyway. Conveniently, I got some old wrinkled organic seed potatoes from a colleague at work.
Without ever having read anything about potato cultivation, I took the hoe in my hand and prepared my bed, planted the wrinkled seed potatoes and a few weeks later, I had a basket full of beautiful potatoes. In retrospect, I intuitively did a lot right. In the meantime, I have picked up a few tips from amateur gardeners. I would like to share my experiences and tips with you here, because growing your own potatoes can be so easy and so much fun. Just try it out.
Tips for growing potatoes
Prepare the bed. It is best to spread your own compost - "golden soil" - on the bed. Everything is ready for planting. Selecting the seed potatoes. Basically, you should check which variety you want to plant and whether your soil is suitable for it. Not every potato variety grows equally well in every soil. Let them pre-sprout. In my case, the potatoes were already pre-sprouted in the bag to such an extent that I could plant them directly. With newly bought seed potatoes, I recommend letting them pre-sprout. This makes the potatoes more resistant to blight. Make furrows. The row distance between the furrows should be 50 cm. You can get a straight furrow with a rope attached to two sticks, along which you can pull the furrow. The depth should be around 8-10 cm. Plant the potatoes. Place the seed potatoes in the furrows at a distance of 30-35 cm, with the germ upwards. Press down and cover with a little soil to create a small mound. Care during growth. After only two weeks, the first shoots are visible. So that many daughter tubers can be formed, soil must now be piled up again and again. To do this, simply place soil on the fresh green shoots so that nothing is visible. The soil is piled up until the first bright yellow flowers appear. At first I was a bit shy about covering the plants. But this is the only way to ensure that there are no green, inedible tubers, that the soil remains loose and that you keep the weeds in check at the same time. Water properly. If the soil starts to dry out, don't forget to water. But do not water too much, otherwise the tubers can rot very quickly. Recognise harvest time. As soon as the green of the potato starts to wilt, the potatoes are ready for harvest.
Growing potatoes on the balcony
If you don’t have a garden, you can grow your own potatoes even in a small space: With planting bags or special potato pots like the Potato Pot. One advantage of this is that you don’t have to worry about nematodes or other pests like voles.
Experience with late summer planting
As I was quite late, I was very curious whether this would work at all and whether there would be enough sunshine to let the potatoes grow. After seven weeks, the first positive surprise: there were many, small and also considerably large tubers attached to the mother tuber. My little son was amazed, because he followed the whole process closely.
A week later – in the middle of October – I harvested almost all the remaining potatoes. I simply didn’t want to take any more risks of having my first positive and somewhat naïve attempt at growing this great tuber spoiled by the cold. Besides, word had spread to the voles in our garden that there was something fine to eat for Thanksgiving.
I hope I have encouraged you to give it a try and wish you every success – and above all a good appetite.