This weekend, all of the FIG Farmers got together to work on a potato planting project out at the farm. On an acre piece of land, we agreed to farm both potatoes and summer squash as a group. With about three weeks until our accepted last frost date (up here on the mountain everyone says after Mother’s Day is frost free), we can finally plant our potatoes!
When planting potatoes, you start with what are called “seed potatoes.” The potato part of a potato plant is a tuber, which actually means it is an underground branch that is used by the plant to store food. Ever left a potato sitting too long and it started to sprout? Each place where the potato sprouts, or each eye of the potato, is actually a bud from which a new plant can be propogated. If your seed potatoes have sprouted, you should not remove the sprouts before planting. Our farming mentor Matt actually told me this gives your plants a week head start on growth!
You can either plant a whole potato as a seed, or cut it into pieces, so long as each piece has one or two eyes at least on it. Don’t cut your potato into too small of pieces, but I will cut them into as many as six pieces.
Matt disked and tilled the field several times in preparation for our planting of the potatoes, and then on Saturday, he created rows with furrows down the middle of each in which we could place the potatoes.
If the potato is cut, make sure that the cut side makes good contact with the soil and that the eyes are facing toward the sky. If you are planting whole potatoes, you can just drop them in! The spacing should be about a foot apart. I planted Kennebecs, a white potato, Red Pontiacs, which have a red skin, and a variety of specialty fingerlings. The Kennebecs and Pontiacs I cut up, but the fingerlings I just left whole. The fingerlings do better when they are not cut.
After all the seed potatoes were planted, Matt came back through with the disk and covered and closed the furrows. Plants should sprout in two to three weeks. With all the wet weather we are having this week, I am hoping our seed potatoes will be happy and on their way to growing productive plants!