It’s finally Spring! Okay, so it doesn’t much feel like it from where I’m standing, but the calendar says Spring started today so it must be true.
There isn’t a lot of spring-like activity going on outside our home right now so I don’t have much to show for it, but my son and I did manage to take advantage of a single warm day last week to plant some potatoes. Yay, potatoes! Now the old tale says that one should plant potatoes before St. Patrick’s Day (and we came in just under the wire), but I’m sure there’s still time to sow some tasty tubers of your own.
If you’ve never planted potatoes, I urge you to give it a go. There is just something special about a lunch of new potatoes and fried okra harvested from your own garden on a hot summer day. It makes me feel like I have really accomplished something special, but secretly I know these are two of the easiest veggies to grow here in the Midwest. It’s still a good feeling and an even better meal!
You can plant seed potatoes directly in the ground or even in a very large pot. We seem to have better success in the pot, because it’s easier to keep the varmints from eating off the tops and the tubers are easier to find at harvest time.
Use “seed” potatoes to grow your own bounty by cutting them in half, making sure there are at least two eyes in each half, and planting them directly in the soil about 3-5 inches deep. Some folks suggest you let the cut pieces dry out over night before planting, but I’ve never done this and seem to have success. You can also buy seed potatoes of different varieties at your local store and follow the directions on the packaging.
As the potatoes grow, they will sprout a stem that grows above ground. Keep animals from eating this stem so that it can gather energy from the sun to help your tators grow. This foliage will eventually wither and die when your potatoes are ready to be harvested, but you can also dig up early tubers if you like to munch on the smaller variety. You can actually harvest potatoes at multiples time during the summer, but try not to disturb the soil too much if you plan to let a few continue to grow. Harvest times do vary depending on the type of potato you grow, but you can do a little research or read packaging to find out how soon you can expect your first feast.
Happy Spring and Happy Potato Planting!