Potatoes, growing , care, tips

cyrus_gardner(8)April 5, 2009

Are you growing potatoes?

If you do , let us here about your stories and experience.

1-How to grow thenm in GA,(When to plant , when to harvest)

2- What variety you are growing, or grows best in GA

3- How do you care for your potatoes?


--- potato (pound per pound) is more healthy and nutitious than rice? and has less starch/calories?

---- potatoes are from the same family (night shade)as tomatoes

---- they are both native to American continent.

---- they are both some of the top vegetables eaten throughout the world.

---- if you like tomato, you should like its causin, potato.

---- steam them together, mash them to gether, add salt/pepper/chopped chives/ some butter/margerine/olive oil.

ENJOY it any time, breakfast, lunch or dinner.


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vicki7(z7 N.Ga.)

I'm growing potatoes for the first time this year. I bought some Kennebec seed potatoes at Wal Mart and planted a 30 foot row of them last week. Hoping they do ok. In past years, I've had plants sprouting up in my compost pile from potato peels in there, so I thought they can't be THAT hard to grow! I'm going to have to do some research to find out when to harvest them. Fresh potatoes have a lot better flavor than the store-bought ones, and they're high in potassium too.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 3:16PM
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marvine(z7/8 GA)

I've had good success with potatoes by just putting them on the ground and then putting about a 6 to 8 inch layer of straw on top (get baled wheat straw). When it comes time for harvest, you can just reach under the straw and get the biggest ones, and leave the smaller ones to keep growing - works great!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 7:48PM
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Thank you Vicki and Martine

True. growing potatoes is not difficult at all.Actually it is much easier than growing tomatoes.

There is one thing about potatoes that is different.
Potatoes like acid soil. a PH of 4.5 to 5.5 is a favorable range. In Georgia soils are generally more acidic. To lower the PH further you can add a lot of organic matter, like composted leave taken from the woods under the trees. Wood ash, rich in potash is also very beneficial for potatoes.
Before planting or shortly after sprouting you can give them all purpose fertilizers or mixture of cow manur and compost. keep fertilizers away from stems and cover it with some soile. as you water them, the fertilizer will reach the roots.
But do not feed them too much nitrogen during growing. Too much Nitrogen will produce lots of healthy looking green top but not potatoes in the ground which you want.

Potatoes grow on the stem in the ground ,above the roots.
So the longer the stem (buried) the greater the potential of potatoes. For this reason keep piling soil ( mixed with a lot of organic matter) around the stems. Or as Marvine does, pile straw. Remember that the root/leaves are responsible for growing potato on the stem. So the root should get right amount of nutriens and water. But the medium around the stem should be soft and fluffy to allow potatos get biger with ease.For this reason clay soil is not good, because it gets hard.and also,has poor drainage.Poor drainage can also cause rotting of the root and potatoes.
Water them thouroughly once every week to 10 days. All potato needs is moist soil not soggy;like most garden vegetables.

One more thing about potato plant,
Although potato can grow in warm weather, if watered, but it will stop producing fruits when soil temperature gets over 70F. Ideal tem is 55-65F. so when it gets hot, koop their roots cool by mulching. For this reason, in our area, potatoes should be planted as early as possible so that when it gets hot (around mid july) you harvest them I planted mine in early march. (some in mid march) now they are up and bushy and ready to be hilled(packing around stems neck)

You can plant a second round in early August, to be harvested before fall frost or when their top get woody, yellow, or simply die.

About seeds:
I got mine some frome last years crop and the rest from store bought ones. With the latter I let them green and grow sprouts before planting. Some store bough potatoes may not sprout because they treat them with some chemicals to inhibit sprouting while on the sheles and at home.

OK! lets here more from others.
I am here to learn more and share my experience.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 10:17PM
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I don't feel that there are as many potato enthusiast.
Potatoes are the most used vegetable in America and maybe around the world. Nutritionalwise, potato is much healthier than rice.
Potato is diverse the way it can be cooked; Boiled, fried, baked , put in stew, ..ETc.
What is more, is that it can be stored for longer time than tomatoes. Also, it is easy to grow and maintain.
After about 3 months you can reach in the groung and pick fresh young potatoes, that are very tasty. One more, in Ga , zone 7, 8,9 you can plant potatoes twice a year. You cannot do it with tomatoes.
Potatoes and tomatoes belong to the same family. They both are almost desease free and need same amount of care.

This is the last chance to plant potatoes in zone 7-8 in Georgia. The foliage of potato plant is so beautiful. It looks like tomato but shorter, no need for staking or trelis whatsover. All you have to do is, during firt two months to hill around them and water (not as frequently) and fertilize once (or twice) depending on the soil condition.

Ther are many varieties of potatoes. Most of us are familiar with Idaho potatoes (baking, ..) but there are more: White, red, purple , yellow.

Give it a try. Gardening is fun.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 10:16PM
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I thought wood ash was alkaline Cyrus? I'd always assumed that since you can make lye from it??

I wanted to plant potatoes this year, looks like I am late. I've been keeping an eye out for seed potatoes at HD/Lowes and hadn't seen any so I though I was probably early. Looks like I'm not. Maybe I'll try in August. Looking online though, most of the seed potato growers only ship in Jan, Feb. Any good sources locally?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2009 at 11:30PM
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Hi Eastlien

Yes, wood ash is a bit alkaline but it is a good source of potasium (pot-ash?) that potatoes like. I just learned from somebody in Idaho that the reason for having acid soil for potatoes is to prevent scabs. For home gardener having scabs is not that crucial since they use them themselves and peel it.

About seeds:
I grow mine mostly from store bough potattoes. They sprouted fine. I let them green in the chichen before planting. This way I can be sure that they will grow and also come up faster. I find seed potatoes too too expensive.
They claim that those are certified to be virous free. But where do the virouscome from? Potato farmers plant their own potatoes all the time. Secondly, the virous does not affect us when we cook potatoes and eat. They only may cause bad or poor crop. I take chances with that.

I read here somewher that they bought seed potatoe from walmart. I have also noticed they sell them at pikes.

It is not to late to plant now. With milder temperatures they will come up fast.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 9:02PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I haven't got my potato bin made yet, but I do plan on planting potatoes. I just use organic grocery store potatoes as my starts and have never had a problem. I'm low on soil for my potatoes so I plan to add some in straw too!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 10:19PM
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while you are preparing your potato bins, You can put your seed potatoes, on a damp towel, in a dish, in the kitcen. This way as if they are planted and begin getting green and sprouting. Then when your bins are ready, plant them.

Store bought seeds should be fine, especially organic; which means they are not treated with chems to inhibit sprouting.

Gardening is fun.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 8:13AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Ha! One ahead of you Cyrus...my potatoes have already sprouted in the bag!! That's why I plant them. I have no good space for potato storage in the house!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 2:11PM
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gggirl, Sprouting in the bag might be to leggy.
Put them in a lighted spot in your kitchen to harden up those pale sprouts. The sprouts should turn green so should the potatoes' skin (slightly green)

Some of my seed potatoes had also sprouted in the bag ( with no light) I broke them off and let the potatoes grow healthier sprouts, which they did barely. Then I planted them. I did not trust those long leggy shoots which looked like bean sprouts for stir fry (hehe)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2009 at 9:10PM
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This thread that I have started was being buried. So I had to bring it up.

My potatoes are doing great. They have lush green stems about 12 inches high(some maybe higher)

They seem to love this cool spring weather. After all, potatoes love cool nights and that is what he've been having. But they will do much better if the high low range is 80 to 60F.
I am hillinmg them with lots of leaves/pine straw combination. Today I fertilized them with just potasium and phosphorus. This should provide them a good rooting power and desease resistans and fruit production. I think my soil is already rich in nitrogen.

I expect to reach in the ground and pick fresh young potatoes in late jun/early july at the latest.
I love potatoes . They are so versatile as food source and tasty too.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 9:38PM
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My potato plants have blossoms and getting ready to bloom.
This means that they are about to grow tubors.

By the time I be able to taste my first ripe tomato, I will be reaching in and picking potatoes as well.

To me growing potato is much easier than tomato and requires less care and maintenance; No polination problem, no cage or staking, no worry about birds eating them. What is more, potatoes can be stored for months, Just afew days ago I cooked my last potato from last falls crop. I know this because it was a purple potato. This year I have planted 4 differen varieties; common Idaho bake, White, red, and purple.
potato -tomato mash:

steam fresh potatoes (ABOUT 1LB).
When half done, take them out, peel the skin, cut them into big chunks , put them in a pot or pan.
Cut 2 tomatoes(equatorially) in half, squeez the seeds out, add on top of potato chunks.
Add just a little water, cover, simmer at warm/low until potatoes are well done.
Chop some gree onions/chive, a touch of thyme/ parsley(finely chopped)and MASH.
Add salt/pepper/butter/marg to taste.
You may substitute fresh peppers for ground pepper.
I always add some turmeric for aroma, taste and color.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 7:10AM
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sweetmelon(7b Atl GA)


I share your enthusiasm for potatoes, but we are beginner potato growers, so your tips are of great help.

When you mulch small potato plants, like a few inches tall, do you only cover the lower part of the stem or some of the lower leaves also?

Will composted horse manure work for mulching potatoes?

Thanks a lot!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 3:59PM
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Hi sweetmelon

Growing potatoes is easy.

When potato plants are shorter than a foot, I pack around and between the stems with soil, not straw/mulh. Because the roots need some cover, the stem need good support and also they need to have moisture.
After that stage I continue to mulch them with pine straw and sprinkle some soil on them to keep straw down a bit. At the third stage I just pack straw around and between stems. Potatoes do not mind hot weather as long as the roots are kept cool (unde 70F)
You can continue packing soil all the way, if your soil has a lot of compost/organic matter and it is fluffy. This way the potato tubers can grow and get bigger with ease.
Today I did the final packing, after All the rain the stems were laying down. Now my potato plants are in bloom.
Hopefully they have started growing tubers underneath. In anothe month or so I will try to pick some young pottatoes. Like the saying goes, tiniers are tastier.
I will get my camera ready and take some pictures and post them here.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 10:53PM
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sweetmelon(7b Atl GA)

Looking forward to seeing the photos! But still not sure what the answers to my questions are. Of course trial and error (or success!) is always an option.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2009 at 10:45AM
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O! I am sorry sweetmelon. I did not answer your questionn properly.

When plants are that small, you try not to burry or pinch off any leaves. So basically you just leave them alone for a while to grow some stems first. Then you pack between stems/around then. Even then I would not pinch or burry the lower leaves for the time being. Much later in the process that stems are about 18-24 inches, you pinch the lower leaves that otherwise will be hidden in the mulch/hay/stray/soil mound.I would then even pinch off any skinny/new stems, if there were any.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 12:22AM
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I am growing potatoes for the first time. Some of my plants are dying and they look like the leaves have been eaten. The rest of them look fine. I don't see any bugs on them. Should I remove the dying plants?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 8:33AM
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I put my potatoes in today before really checking the weather... and then it rained for hours this afternoon/evening! Is this rain going to damage my seed potatoes? I know they don't like being water-logged. Are they likely to rot, and is there anything I can do about it?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 11:11PM
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welcome almir, from NH

If your soil is not clay and sticky, one heavy rain shouldn't do much harm in the way of roting, especially when the seeds are new.
. If I remember it correctly, you plant potato seeds about 6 inches deep. So they should be out of rain water fast.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 9:11PM
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In early spring I composted my garden with old leaves and a combination of horse manure and sawdust. The manure and sawdust has been composting for over a year. What should I add in the way of fertilizer or lime? Thanks for any help.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 9:17PM
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This is quite a revival of old post!!

Does potatoe and sweet potato grow the same way. I am not sure what the potato "seeds" are.

Some of my potato were sprouting...so I plucked the sprouted part and stuck them in ground...they seem to be growing.

I did same with sweet potato last year...some creature ate it by next day (deer/moles/rabbit...god knows). So won't try it this year.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 9:35PM
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I have been looking all over for good, solid information about growing potatoes! I finally found a great link at the University of Georgia site. Here it is. I need info on growing onions now. I have not found really good info for growing them in Georgia, don't understand the difference between a bulbing onion, etc. I know we are supposed to use early day varieties, but that's about all I can find. If you have info on this I would really appreciate any help!

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Georgia

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 6:52PM
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I grew sweet potatoes from plants I bought. They grew well but they need a LOT of space. When you dig them out around September, you have to "cure" them by leaving them outside in a partially shady area. Otherwise they taste like cardboard. After curing them you can dig the dirt back up and store them in the ground until winter. You must separate them by making sure you have dirt between each of them. We stored them once frost was coming by putting them in straw hay in a big rubber container with lid and left them under the house where it is cool.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 7:05PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Here's a good onion link!

Here is a link that might be useful: Clemson on Onions

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 1:59PM
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Im a new grower! How tall do potatoe plants get? Mine R 18in. Is that the normal size?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Hi! New in Georgia, I believe that I'm in zone 7b (Marietta). I read in one of the comments that around April is the last opportunity to plants potatoes (I believe I read that ...it is too late at night...). So, when is the other opportunity during a year to plant potatoes?


    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 1:23AM
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This is a great post Cyrus... thank you!

And to answer your question Jessil, I think from what I understand is that you plant them in early spring and harvest in the summer, and plant again in the late summer and harvest again in the late fall.. Two plantings.

And about the sweet potatoes. YES they do take up a TON of space, but I recently discovered a method where you let the sweet potato vines grow UP instead of out! It's an amazing method, space saver, and crop producer. Sweet potatoes literally do vine out like pumpkins or watermellons, so grow them UP instead of out... Take that three foot space and make it all that more productive!

Can't wait to plant potatoes this year though, I've been watching a lot of youtube videos and reading up, but this thread has inspired me!

COme quickly spring!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 2:16AM
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I've had poor luck growing potatoes because the stupid fire ants build their mounds in with my potato mounds :(

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 5:15PM
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Starting my plot it is a raised box garden four rows two being Klondike Rose and other two rows are Red Idaho. as they grow I do plan to add more side boards as needed,just got done putting them in the compost and it started pouring down rain. The box the Cabbage is in was my first raised box and after summer crop thought I would put some thing winter crop, got to garden shop and went with cabbage. which in turn has caused expansion Thank you Jesus :)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 5:08PM
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I plant sixty pounds of taters every year, three one hundred foot double rows. So far I have settled on Norland Reds as my early red and Kennebecs as my mid season multi purpose white and am still trialing for the classic big baker (this year it's Nooksack that's getting the workout). This gives me an early, mid and late season harvest to spread taters over as long a period as possible since root cellars aren't readily available down here. Holding back some and replanting in the fall gives almost all year without storebought spuds.
I like to get mine in the ground as soon as I can get it cleared from the winter mess and the water gets off the garden (I have an extremely high water table).
I lay out double furrows for each variety spaced about 6-8 inches apart and pop the spuds down in staggered rows so that there is aproximately 10-12 inches between the pieces. I do cut my taters down to egg sized pieces with at least two eyes per. If I have the time to work around the weather I may let them sit for a few days to heal over but when I'm working around the weather I have cut them in the field and planted with no ill result. I do however lay out my spuds in front of a sunny window for a few weeks ahead of time to break dormancy and green up so they are usually full speed ahead just needing to be put in the dirt. One thing that I think helps is to dust them with sulfur to try to prevent rotting in the ground plus add just a touch of acidity in the row as my field is well limed. Once in the furrow I just cover with a light cover of soil so the leaves don't have as much crust to break through. My rows between the varieties are 30 inches on center which is just enough to let my tiller make a single pass down the aisle to keep down weeds and to loosen the soil for hilling. When the tops get to six inches I make a tiller pass and hill each side until just the tips of the leaves are showing. I do this each time there is six inches above the soil until I have a pretty good mound of soil to work with, maybe three to four hillings. By then the tops should be pretty full and shading out the aisles, especially if I've been side dressing like I usually do with the first hilling. I use triple 13 without noticing any ill effect but I do get lush top growth that shades out the weeds.
At that point they should be blooming well and I just let them go until they fall over and die (well I do sneak me a few of those wonderful reds when I make the first picking of beans). A couple of weeks or so after the tops die I dig them up and let them lay for a day only before moving them inside to a cool spot for storage until use.
I have clay here and the things I have found that really help is tilling in any organic matter that I can to include weeds and grasses that grow in between seasons, making my hills as large and high as possible so they stay dry and does not clump up from being wet, once the hill has crusted over do not disturb unless harvesting taters. I want the interior to remain loose enough to harvest by hand, which is the way I do it. I have also added gypsum to my soil as well.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Sweet taters are similar but different. You do not hill them as they grow but instead make your hill first before you plant your slips. Sweet taters are also much more tolerant of clay soils being able to push down through as a thin root and wedge it as they expand. Of course this ability differs to varying degrees by cultivar and like all root crops looser is always better over all.
Also unlike "Irish" taters you don't plant the potato or cut pieces but instead plant sprouts or slips that form from sweet potatoes that are allowed to sprout either in the classic sweet potato half suspended in water with toothpicks in a mason jar or in a sprouting bed, usually damp sand in a cold frame. Cold in the case of sweet taters is a misnomer as unlike regular taters which come from way up high in the cold Andes mountains, sweet taters hail from the lowland tropical bottomlands and they want heat and lots of it so plant these in May or later as long as there is time in the season for them as most need a long season to size up. They also like it a little wetter than regular spuds especially when first set out as slips. When I was a kid we made our ridges then wet them down to a mud pie state before setting the slips for a very dirty day in the field. Today I do it by making a ditch down the top of the ridge prior to setting the slips and then set my slips about 10-12 inches apart in the row and bury them until only the top leaves are showing and then fill the ditch to the brim with water. The key is to never ever let the slips dry out for the first week or so until they have been able to establish roots. Soaker hoses are a God send compared to the days of toting buckets of water to the field. If you can time your planting for an overcast day, or even better week, so much the better. They, too, like a good side dress once established but do not over do it as like the others you'll get great tops at the expense of roots. I just want good thick foliage for supressing weeds and photosynthesis and no more. Let them stress ever so slightly later in the season to send more good stuff to the roots.
Like has been said they do need lots of room compared to the non vining irish kind if you're growing the vining type of sweet potatoes. Some can go over six foot or more but I generally reserve tolerating vines only on my melons and pumpkins so I opt for bunch or semi bunch versions myself. I've almost completely settled on the newer semi bunch Covington cultivar but still alot some space to others. My Covingtons go into two one hundred foot rows as my main sweet potato for year round use.
herboil, just a note on letting sweet potato vines grow up instead of out. With some cultivars, centennial comes to mind, you will lose nearly half your crop as many cultivars will root at the nodes and make roots (potatoes) there. Me personally, I despise having to hunt and peck to dig sweet potatoes all over God's creation so those cultivars are very low on my list even though I personally like the taste of centennials. For me and mine I like to find my taters exactly where I planted them.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 5:48PM
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This is my 4th or 5th yr of doing potatoes...they are sooo good and as posted easy to grow if one keeps hilling the soil around the plants and feeding on consistent basis since they are heavy feeders, but watch your pH. Actually have my "2nd" plantings sprouting in cups ready to plant when weather permits...right now, having MO weather in GA and cannot get most things in the ground!!! Come on Mom Nature, time for a hot flash!! My favorites are the Kennebec, Pontiacs and this year planted some Idahos that had sprouted in kitchen <: only issue i foresee is the neighbor dog likes to and has pulled up plants in friend garden...not good...>

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:56AM
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I grow the white Irish, yellow Yukons and the Reds. They are easy to grow. Those little brown tats that fall from the pine trees, in the early spring, make the best mulch. Just pull a little dirt on top of them after putting them around the plants. My plants are about two feet high and blooming. The hardest part is getting them out of the ground.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 8:26PM
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