(Fremont County, Wyo.) - Not that we don’t appreciate all you do for spuds, Idaho, but folks can grow their own here in Wyoming. Growing potatoes in the backyard is simple and fun and harvest time is a treasure hunt that everyone enjoys!
Here are Sprout's tips and tricks to growing spuds:
Choose A Variety. First, determine which of the 100+ varieties of potatoes to plant. Use true seed potatoes that are intended for propagation. Things to consider:
- Length of growing
- Intended usage
- Keeping quality
- Disease resistance
- Charlie's favorite; Yukon gold because it’s a good all-around potato and is easy to peel. If you can't decide, be like Charlie!
Prepare potatoes for planting. A seed potato should have 1-2 “eyes,” each with good growth. Large seed potatoes can be cut into multiple pieces, as long as each eye has at least a golf ball sized piece of potato to grow from. If you cut the potato into smaller pieces, let the skin dry overnight in order to callous. A calloused piece is less likely to rot once buried.
Choose growing format. The new crop of potatoes grows between the seed potato and soil surface. This means height is required to grow potatoes, 10-12 inches at minimum. There are a slew of ways to achieve that height: hills, trenches, raised beds or other vertical forms.
How to plant. The short and simple story is that the seed potato is planted and covered with 2-3” of soil. Once the plant has grown several inches, place soil over the plant, leaving only top leaves exposed. Once the plant has grown several inches a second time, again cover the growth, again leaving a couple of inches of plant exposed. At this point the soil is level or slightly higher than surrounding soil.
Keep the plants evenly watered throughout the growing season. Deep watering is preferred over frequent, shallow watering. Adequate water helps the plant produce healthy new tubers.
Harvest it. The plants tell you when it’s time to harvest, because they’ll look dead. Gently dig around the planting site, erring on the wider side as new tubers can be several inches away from the mother plant. Let the potatoes air dry out of direct sun for a few days if you plan on storing them. Gently brush off dirt clumps, but don’t scrub. If any potatoes were damaged in the harvest by your shovel, be sure to use those right away. Don’t wash potatoes until you’re going to use them- the moisture will lead to rot in storage.
Cross-section of planting potatoes. It won't win art awards, but it explains the process well enough.