The spring mildness launches the beginning of the potato planting period. And the choice of varieties is not lacking. So much the better, you say! Because growing potatoes in the vegetable garden is also an opportunity to discover new flavors, far from the few taste stereotypes marketed on the stalls.
Be careful though! The plants must be certified disease-free, a success factor that should not be overlooked. Also choose the potatoes according to the crop cycles: the early varieties develop and can be harvested between 60 and 90 days, the ½ early between 90 and 120 days and the late ones, beyond 120 and up to 150 days. Now that you’ve made your choice, let’s plant them!
An important pre-culture: the germination of the plants
After purchase, place the tubers inside a room sheltered from frost but well exposed and bright.
To keep them straight, I personally place them in egg cartons that I store in a crate or tray, which makes transport easier. Let the sprouts reach a good centimeter and a half.
Which location to choose for growing potatoes?
Like their tomato cousins, potatoes belong to the nightshade family. They therefore appreciate a clear, well-lit and rather warm location, although a light shade, in the afternoon, is well appreciated. Also consider looking at plant associations. The potato is rather the bad student type on this point!
The location defined, work your soil and loosen it to at least 20 centimeters deep. Loosen the clods that could hinder the development of the plants and remove the stones that could deform your future harvest.
Potatoes are greedy, the ideal is to enrich the soil in the fall by providing compost and a basic fertilizer. However, it is not too late to do so at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring, a little before planting. Then bury a well-ripened compost that will not cause diseases.
The art of planting potatoes?
- Start by tracing the rows with a chalk line, spaced between them 50 to 60 centimeters.
- Then open furrows 10 to 15 centimeters deep with a towel. If the furrow does not tempt you, you can also use a bulb planter which naturally gives the right planting depth.
- Space the plants 30 centimeters apart in the row. Personally, I always open my furrows a few days before planting to allow the earth to warm up since, as I wrote above, potatoes, like all nightshades, love heat.
- Place the plants at the bottom of the furrow, the sprouts facing upwards, without breaking them.
- Bring back the soil and close the row or fill in the hole. Do not pack, you risk damaging the germs.
- A final watering is also not essential. I even advise you not to do it.
As soon as the seedlings come out of the ground, you can gently hoe the soil. When they reach about twenty centimeters, bring the earth around the foot and mound to encourage rooting.
Finally, watch out for the cold!
The beginning of spring is still a cool period, where temperature differences are numerous and sometimes chaotic. Remember to shelter the young plants under tunnel if the frost is announced.