How to plant potatoes from eyes

Simple Guide for How to Plant Potatoes from Eyes in 2024

Growing potatoes is as easy as 1-2-3 with this quick guide! Learn all about how to plant potatoes from eyes with success this growing season!

One of the garden favorite crops of home gardeners is potatoes!  Delicious and easy to grow, potatoes can be a nutritious addition to your garden this season. Whether you have a large backyard or just a few containers on your balcony, growing potatoes is simple and rewarding. Just follow our quick guide below to learn how to grow potatoes from eyes and get ready for a bountiful harvest!

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How to plant potatoes from eyes

Growing and harvesting potatoes is probably one of the most fun crops in the backyard garden!  And when growing potatoes you have a couple of options for success! The following tips for how to grow potatoes will help get you on the right path!

Choosing your potato “seeds”

The first step in growing potatoes is to choose the right potato “seeds.” As a note, potatoes do not actually grow from seeds as we know it.  While there are seeds for potatoes, growth and harvest in unpredictable as best! Instead, we grow potatoes from seed potatoes, which is in essence an old potato. 

Store Bought or Certified Seed Potatoes?

This can be a grocery store potato (and many people have great success from the bag of potatoes forgotten in the pantry) however, the disease resistance of these grocery store potatoes is unknown. 

The better option is to use Certified disease-free seed potatoes. Planting seed potatoes significantly improves the chance of a successful harvest and protects your garden from detrimental diseases.

After your initial harvest, you can also consider saving your own potatoes for seed potatoes.

Choosing Potato Variety

There are many different varieties of potatoes available, each with its own unique characteristics. One of the main ones to take into account is the season type of the potatoes. Potatoes are characterized as Early, Mid, or late depending on how long the potatoes take to mature and when in the season they are best suited. Some common varieties include Russet, Yukon Gold, and Red Pontiac. Choose a variety that best suits your taste preferences and growing conditions.

Preparing your seed potatoes

Now that you have chosen your seed potatoes, it’s time to prepare them for planting. 

Green Sprouting potatoes

If you are growing Certified seed potatoes, you will want to green sprout the potatoes, which is basically waking them up to get a head start. Place the seed potatoes in a container and place in a cool dry place to get the potatoes to start forming eyes. Once eyes are formed, you can put the potatoes in a sunny window to encourage the potato sprouts to further develop.

Sectioning Potatoes

Next, you’ll want to section your seed potatoes. While you can plant the whole seed potatoes in the soil, sectioning them will give you more potato plants. 

To section, start by cutting the large seed potatoes into smaller pieces, with a clean knife ensuring each piece has at least one or two “eyes” or buds. You can leave small seed potatoes whole, as they will grow into a single plant. 

Lastly, take your sprouted potato pieces and allow them to cure. This simply involves letting the potato pieces sit out to harden off the exposed cut piece.

​Choose your growing location and prepare soil

Now it’s time to choose how and where you will plant your potatoes as well as prepare the growing medium! You’ll get the best results when you grow your potatoes in a full sun location (getting at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. The growing medium should be a well-drained soil mix with lots of organic matter and loose soil. 

Potatoes are not fussy as how you grow them when it comes to using garden beds, raised beds, or large pots. My personal favorite way is to grow potatoes in grow bags. These are really easy to move if you need to due to frost (potato plants can handle a frost. but it does set the plants back). 

Additionally harvesting potatoes out of grow bags is far easier, and you ensure you do not have volunteer potato plants in the next year. 

When and how to plant potatoes from eyes

Potatoes are a cool weather crop that can be planted about 4 weeks before your last frost. You want to plant your potatoes in late winter in mild climates or early spring when the soil temperature is at least 45 degrees consistently.

To plant the potato segments, dig a deep trench about 6-8 inches in premoistened soil and place seed potato segments cut side down (eyes up) along with a low nitrogen/high phosphorus fertilizer. Lastly, cover the potato pieces with about two inches of soil. 

how to plant potatoes from eyes

Management of Potatoes

Once your potatoes are in soil, you will need to help them along their growth journey. So how do you keep your potatoes happy and healthy for a successful harvest?

Irrigation

Potatoes need consistent moisture throughout their growing season. This is especially important during the period of tuber formation, which occurs about 50-60 days after planting. Make sure to water regularly, aiming for about one inch per week. If you are using a raised bed, using drip irrigation can help you maintain consistent moisture throughout the season

Hilling

As the potato plants grow, you’ll want to “hill” them, which means piling soil around the base of the plant. This helps protect the developing potatoes from sunlight and also encourages more tuber formation along the stem.

Fertilizing

Potatoes are heavy feeders, so make sure to fertilize every 4-6 weeks with a high phosphorus fertilizer. This will encourage tuber development and promote a healthy plant.

Also read: Top 10 Simple Tips for When to Apply Fertilizer to Vegetable Garden

Pest Control

Unfortunately, potatoes are prone to several pests such as Colorado potato beetles, aphids, and flea beetles. Make sure to regularly check your plants for any signs of pest damage or disease and treat immediately. As always, remember pest management starts with prevention and that can be done with companion planting! 

Potatoes can be planted with nasturtium, beans, peas, horseradish, oregano, calendula, basil, catmint, tansy, cilantro.

Also read: 10 Best Companion Plants for Potatoes + 4 Crops to Avoid

Disease control

One of the most detrimental issues that potatoes face is the disease , late blight. It is caused by a fungus-like organism that can completely wipe out your potato crop. To prevent this, make sure to rotate your potato crops every year and avoid planting in the same location where tomatoes were planted the previous season. Also, keep an eye out for any signs of disease and treat immediately with organic fungicides if necessary.

Harvesting Potato Plants

Depending on the variety, you can harvest potatoes as early as 50-60 days after of planting for small potatoes (new potatoes). For larger potatoes you’ll want to wait until you see a few signs such as the plant flowering or the plant dying back (not all will flower, but some will as a sign your potato harvest is near).

In general, it’s best to wait until the plants have died back and the foliage has turned yellow. This indicates that the potatoes are fully matured and ready for harvest. If you have grown your potatoes in a container, you can simply dump then soil out and harvest your potatoes.

If you have grown in a raised bed or directly in ground, you can use a garden fork to gently loosen soil around the base of the plant. Lift the entire plant from the soil and then dig for any stragglers. 

​Tips for Storing Potatoes

Storing potatoes is a simple process, but it’s important to follow a few guidelines to ensure they last as long as possible.

  1. Curing: After harvesting, allow the potatoes to cure in a cool, dry and dark place for 10-14 days. This will help develop their skin and make them easier to store.
  2. Storage Conditions: Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark and well-ventilated area. A temperature of around 45 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
  3. Avoid Exposure to Light: Potatoes should be stored in a dark location as exposure to light can cause them to start sprouting or turning green.
  4. Check for Spoilage: Regularly check your stored potatoes for any signs of spoilage such as mold

Remember depending on the variety you grew; your potatoes may not be idea for long term storage and are best used for fresh eating. 

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