In Today’s post, we will look into step by step, easy methods and tricks to grow potato plant from store bought potatoes or even seed potatoes.
Potatoes can be grown in ground or in containers. It’s better to grow in containers, mainly because harvesting is a lot easier and it can be grown throughout the year, especially in the tropical zones.
You can grow potatoes from store bought potatoes, but try to choose organically grown potatoes if possible. Potatoes are actually grown from Certified Seed Potatoes which are usually disease free.
But you can easily grow a healthy potato plant with a good harvest from store bought potatoes. Let’s start this step by step.
Step 1: Chitting Potatoes: Chitting simply means pre-sprouting potatoes, before planting them. Chitting potatoes is not a compulsory step to growing potatoes, but it can give the crop a head start so that it matures quicker.
So, How to Chit potatoes? First of all make sure you have good “eyes” in your potatoes. This is where your potatoes will grow sprouts. Place the potatoes in a paper carton box, of course with some holes in the box for ventilation. Leave it undisturbed for at least 2 to 3 weeks to get your seed potatoes.
Step 2: Cutting: This is optional. If you want more plants and have less seed potatoes, you can cut them into pieces, but each piece should have a sprout in it. But you have to leave the cut ends to heal for about 2 days so that they form a callous at the wound. Otherwise, there is a risk of rot.
Step 3: Soil Preparation: Potatoes need a loose well draining potting mix to grow. You can use 30% garden soil + 30% cocopeat or peatmoss + 30% compost like decomposed cowdung or vermicompost + some 10% other stuff like neem powder, perlite and so on. I also add one or two spoons of trichoderma viride powder which is a biofungicide, but this is optional.
Step 4: Choosing Containers: You need a large deep container, like at least 15 inch container for best results. You can use fabric grow bags, some plastic tubs or pots or whisky barrel container or any large container. Make sure you have lot of drainage holes at the bottom. Generally you can harvest upto 10 potatoes per container per plant.
Step 5: Planting: Potatoes have to be planted deeper into the soil. If you are using cut pieces, you plant with the sprout facing upwards. Otherwise it doesn’t matter. Just plant them deep and cover with the soil.
Best time to plant potatoes is about 2 weeks before the onset of spring for most zones, but in few zones in the tropics, you can grow anytime.
Step 6: HILLING: Once the shoots start to grow, you can keep adding potting soil on top to get more space for the potatoes. This is called Hilling of Potatoes. Then at this early stage, that is, once the shoots start to appear, you can add one tablespoon of Organic rock phosphate powder to supply phosphorous to make the root system stronger which in turn can yield a better harvest. Alternately, you can also use fine steamed bone meal powder.
Also try to spray neem oil to keep away potato pests like once in a week or 10 days. 5 to 10 ml neem oil + few drops of liquid soap + half a teaspoon of baking soda to combat any fungal spots on the leaves which is quite common in moist conditions.
Step 7: Watering: Once you plant the potatoes, you can water the container once and leave it alone for atleast 3 to 4 days without watering to prevent the risk of rot. Once the shooting starts, you can water them once every other day depending on the climate or by using the finger dip method to check the soil moisture.
Step 8: Sunlight: Potatoes need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. So, depending on this you choose the growing location.
Step 9: Potato Flowering: The potato plant start to flower anytime after 40 to 50 days. But one trick you have to perform at this stage is just snip off the flowering stalk. You can just pinch it or snip them off with shears. We want all the energy diverted towards the roots and potato formation and not on seed formation. Potato flowering indicates the plant is just matured and small tubers have started to form.
Step 10: Harvesting: For most certified seed potatoes, you can harvest after 70 to 80 days. But for some varieties it can be as long as 120 days. This is difficult to determine for store bought potatoes. This is the one of the drawbacks of growing store bought potatoes. To harvest your potatoes, stop watering at least a week before harvest date. One important sign that can indicate your potatoes are ready to harvest is the potato plant begins to wilt and starts to become yellow and is about to die. This sign indicates your potatoes are ready to harvest. One important point relating to harvest is whether you want New Potatoes or Storage Potatoes. New potatoes are small and thin skinned potatoes usually harvested before 70 days. You can carefully harvest a few new potatoes and then cover the plant with soil and leave it for another 2 to 3 weeks to harvest the Storage potatoes which are the main-crop potatoes. The one sign that indicates this maturity is the potato plant completely becomes yellow, starts wilting and begins to dry.