Have you ever wanted to grow potatoes at home?
Good news. You can.
Growing potatoes in Tulsa, Oklahoma is fairly easy and plenty rewarding. Plus, potatoes are one of the early garden crops you can plant, along with snow and snap peas, lettuce, carrots, radishes, and other cool-season crops to enjoy as we thaw out from our freezing winter.
Do you have any potatoes in your pantry that have sprouted eyes?
Potato Preparation and Planting
1. Perfect. Grab them, a knife, and a cutting board.
2. Cut pieces of potato with the eyes still intact.
3. Set them in a big bowl and let them cure for a couple of days to prevent pests from gravitating to your potato starts when you plant them.
A few years ago, I learned the time to plant potatoes here in Zone 7 is between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. It’s such an easy way to remember when to plant. Last year, I learned that growing potatoes in pots is the smartest way to grow potatoes in my urban backyard. I share my backyard with voles who love to harvest my garden crops, so I’ve had to devise measures to keep them out. Containers work well for this.
4. Find a large container — 5-gallon is best. If there aren’t drainage holes, add some. Add a few inches of potting soil to the bottom.
5. Lay your potatoes down a few inches apart on top of the soil.
6. Add about six inches of soil on top of the potatoes, making sure all the potatoes are covered. Walk away and let nature do its work.
It will rain eventually and help your potatoes along with their growth. And, then you will begin to see lush green foliage!
Keep an eye on your growing spuds about a month after planting
1. When green leaves emerge from the top of the soil, about six inches high, cover them completely with more soil.
2. Repeat this step as new growth emerges, watering as appropriate until the green part of the plant is poking over the rim of your container.
3. Water them regularly and keep an eye on them.
4. You won’t want to harvest your potatoes until the green tops start browning. The plant is using the energy from the leaf to make a more robust tuber — the part of the potato plant that we eat.
If you’re like me, you are impatient and will start rummaging around in the soil before the green top dies back. Digging in the soil for potatoes is like digging for buried treasure. If you find any grubs, throw them on the ground away from your garden. The birds will appreciate a snack.
The most difficult thing about growing potatoes in your home garden? Deciding when to harvest. ;P
If your plan is to make homemade french fries from your garden harvest, you'll want to leave them to grow until they're quite large.
I love my small new potatoes for frying on the stovetop and often harvest more of these than the large ones. That’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself. If you want to try frying up new potatoes, I suggest cutting them thin, adding a bit of olive oil or butter to your pan, and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Cook them to the consistency you like. They’ll taste delicious!
Let me know if you have any questions or potato growing tips.
Remember the basics
- Plant potatoes between Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
- Use pantry potatoes that have grown "eyes" - preferably organic as to ensure there are no chemicals that could stunt plant growth.
- Cut pantry potatoes into small chunks and let cure.
- Plant in a large bucket in a shallow layer of soil.
- As the plant leaves grow, cover every 6" or so of new growth.
- When the plants start growing, water regularly.
- When the potato leaves begin to turn brown, it's time to harvest--but you can harvest new (small) potatoes before then
Originally published in Age of Empathy.