Potatoes easiest vegetable for your garden

Potatoes easiest vegetable for your garden

Q. I’ve grown vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, beans, but this year I’d like to try potatoes. How difficult are they to grow?

Lauren from Austintown

A. In my opinion, “taters” are easier to grow than any other vegetable. Very little hands-on after they are planted. All my gardening in the past has been done in the ground, but I discovered that container gardening makes it so much easier to care for the plants. Not enough sun, move the container. Too much sun, move the container again. Basically, plant, water, fertilize and harvest.

Here’s my step by step approach:

1. Drill five 1/2-inch holes in your clean, 5-gallon container.

2. Add 3 inches of prepared soil. (Mix equal quantities of potting mix, compost and slow-release fertilizer based on label instructions.

3. Cut potato into parts, each having two eyes. Place each part, eyes up in a circle with one in the middle. Parts should be at least 1 inch apart. I planted five to six in each container.

4. Cover with 3 inches of soil.

5. Water until it runs out the bottom. Later, I watered about twice a week. In a few days you will see the first leaves peeking through. Let the green stem grow to 8-10 inches.

6. Add soil mixture to bury 2/3 of the stem. Water thoroughly again.

7. With the next growth spurt, the stem will be 4-5 inches above the rim of the container. Repeat Step 6, making sure that the soil level is 1-2 inches below the rim.

8. The potato plant will grow straight up, until it gets top heavy. When it starts to flower, the potatoes are growing off the buried stem. I gently add a thin bamboo stick and helped the tall plant stay upright.

9. In 70-80 days you’ll have a container of potatoes to harvest.

10. Harvest when the plant turns yellow and droopy. By harvest I mean, empty the container and hunt for your first homegrown potatoes.

I was apprehensive when I emptied my first bucket. I had read enough about the diseases, pests and problems that produced a container of rotten potatoes. Instead, I was very excited to uncover a decent crop of red skins for my first potato crop. I am trying to be patient with the four other containers, but can hardly wait for the greenery to die back and empty them. I think you should give this a try; I know you’ll get a kick out of it!

For more details about growing potatoes in containers, please see: http://go.osu.edu/potatoes

Today’s answer provided by Lillian Quaranta, OSU Extension master gardener volunteer. Call the office hotline at 330-533-5538 to submit questions. Regular clinic hours are 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Thursdays.

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