DESCRIPTION 

Potato is a cool-season vegetable that ranks with wheat and rice as one of the most important staple crops in the human diet around the world. The white potato is referred to as the “Irish potato” because it is associated with the potato famine in Ireland in the 19th century. Potatoes are not roots but specialized underground storage stems called “tubers.” Maximal tuber formation occurs at soil temperatures between 60° and 70°F. The tubers fail to form when the soil temperature reaches 80°F. Potatoes withstand light frosts in the spring and can be grown throughout most of the country in the cooler part of the growing season,

HOW TO GROW 

  • Plant seed potatoes (pieces of whole potato or a small whole potato, with at least 2 eyes per piece).
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so a 1-2 days ahead of time. This will give them the chance to form a protective layer, both for moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • You may start planting earlier, as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops will be ruined by a frost.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting.
  • Plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.
  • Practice yearly crop rotation.

PLANT CARE 

  • Potatoes thrive in well-drained, loose soil.
  • Potatoes need consistent moisture, so water regularly when tubers start to form.
  • Hilling should be done before the potato plants bloom, when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Hoe the dirt up around the base of the plant in order to cover the root as well as to support the plant. Bury them in loose soil. The idea is to keep the potato from getting sunburned, in which case they turn green and will taste bitter.
  • You will need to hill potatoes every couple of weeks to protect your crop.

PESTS/DISEASES

  • Flea Beetles
  • Leaf Hoppers
  • Early/Late Blight
  • Potato Scab: Most likely cause by soil with high pH. Remember: Potatoes like acidic soil (do not plant in soil with a pH higher than 5.2). Dust seed potatoes with sulfur before planting.

HEALTH 

  • Potatoes are a very popular food source. Unfortunately, most people eat potatoes in the form of greasy French fries or potato chips, and even baked potatoes are typically loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits. Such treatment can make even baked potatoes a potential contributor to a heart attack. But take away the extra fat and deep frying, and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • Potatoes as a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid.
  • Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals.