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Barbara Pleasant: How to Grow a Potato

seed potatoes

Allow seed potatoes to green up in late winter. Cut them into pieces a day before you plant them, so the cut surfaces have time to dry. Don't worry if the cut pieces turn black! They know what they're doing.

Barbara Pleasant
Barbara Pleasant
garden potatoes
Protect newly harvested potatoes from light at all times. Eat fresh garden potatoes right away for sensational texture and flavor.

As a self-declared advocate of garden potatoes any time, any place, allow me to explain how to grow a potato. Or twenty! Any small to medium-size potato (smaller than your fist) that is showing ivory, pale green or reddish sprouts growing out of the potato can be grown into a garden potato.


Parent potatoes provide plenty of nutrients, so potato sprouts that begin as small nubs can become monstrous in size. Broken off at the potato and planted in a pot of fresh potting soil (potato end down), sprouts more than an inch long will quickly grow roots, then leaves. This is a great way to grow a potato very early in the season, when it’s too cold to plant potatoes outdoors.


To grow a potato that has turned green from exposure to light and is developing green sprouts at one end, cut off that end, preserving a chunk of potato the size of a walnut. Plant small sprouting potatoes whole. In a sunny spot, dig up some soil to loosen it and break up the chunks, and throw in a handful of an organic fertilizer. Plant the potato so it’s covered with one inch of soil. Within a couple of weeks you will have a potato plant. Surround it with a cushy mulch of grass clippings, adding more and more mulch as the season progresses.


When the plant starts flopping over and looking pale, pull it up and gather your potatoes. Depending on the variety grown, soil fertility, and other environmental factors, you should find between 5 and 10 potatoes of various sizes.


That's the simplest version of how to grow a potato, but it's not the only way. If you want more in-depth coverage of garden potatoes, please explore the links below.

More Pleasant Reading

on Potatoes


At GrowVeg.com:

What to Do With Sprouting Potatoes (March 2011)


How to Grow the Best Potatoes in the World (April 2009)


At Mother Earth News: All About Growing Potatoes (December 2008)

potatoes under mulch

Any small potato may be labeled a “new” potato at the store, but true new potatoes are gathered from plants that are still green with foliage.

garden potatoes
garden potatoes

Fresh from the ground, garden potatoes are downright juicy, their crunchy flesh cloaked inside filmy skins as delicate as silk. Compared to the store-bought version, garden potatoes are so exquisite that they are almost like a different vegetable.

growing potatoes in compost
Yes, you can grow potatoes in compost as long as the root zone stays cool. This set-up keeps its cool by being small and close to the ground. Stacking up tires backfires because the tires heat up too much. Under warm conditions, potatoes stop making new tubers.
potatoes with sage