Homegrown Potatoes

Between now and the end of March is the best time to plant potatoes. Homegrown potatoes taste far superior than potatoes bought from the supermarket. In fact, anything you grow and harvest in your home garden is going to taste better because it is fresher. A potato you buy from the store could have been stored for up to six months before you purchase it. Although it is still good and nutritious the flavor does not compare.
Potatoes are very easy and fun to grow. Potatoes can be grown in conventional garden in hilled rows or they can be grown in raised beds and containers. Potatoes are highly productive. Depending on the variety and growing conditions, you can harvest from two to five pounds of potatoes per plant.
There are many different types and varieties of potatoes. Russet potatoes are not typically grown in South Carolina because they require a longer season to develop before hot weather. Kennebec, and other white-skinned potatoes (Irish potatoes), and the red-skinned varieties are the two main types of potatoes grown in South Carolina. The yellow-fleshed potatoes like Yukon Gold and small specialty potatoes in other colors, like purple, do well here and can be ordered from seed catalogs.
Potatoes need to be grown in full sun in a spot where the receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. Potatoes like well-drained soil that is loose. In heavy clay soils, amend the soil with compost to create a perfect soil. Potatoes will need to be watered if there is not enough rainfall, especially when they begin to bloom in May and tubers start to form.
Use seed pieces that have at least one good eye and are in 1 to 2-inch cubes. Seed pieces should be cut three to five days before planting to allow the cut surfaces to heal. Plant potatoes in furrows with the cut side down 3 to 5 inches deep. Later crops should be planted 5 to 6 inches deep. Space the seed pieces 8 to 10 inches apart.
Potatoes average 100 to 120 days to maturity. Harvest potatoes about two weeks after most of the vines have died down in midsummer using a spade fork. Leave the tubers exposed to the sun just long enough for the soil to dry and fall off, about one to two hours.
Late potatoes are best for winter storage. Potatoes can be stores in cool (40-50∞F), moist (90% relative humidity) conditions for six to eight months. Sprouting can be a problem when stores at higher temperatures. For more information on potatoes, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at hgic.clemson.edu. Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7pm on SCETV or mig.org. Email Outen at callenb@clemson.edu.
Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.

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