Cured potato tubers or pieces should be planted about three weeks before the last spring frost, however we have practiced for many years at our Homestead around Easter time as a good indicator for planting this crop.
Potatoes are not grown from direct sowing seed but from a potato that are pieces of tuber with a few buds or eyes that should be cured in a warm location for a couple of days to heal and prevent them from rotting in wet soil.
Plant with the eyes or buds facing up in well drained fertile soil in a sunny location. Raised beds or containers will work well if your garden lot size is limited. After planting and sprouts appear, add more soil to the green leafy sprouts and soil or mound up every week until the plant begins to flower.
Anytime new potatoes are left exposed to light or uncovered, the potatoes will turn green and become bitter and toxic. The hilling and mounding technique will prevent this and encourage more tubers to form.
When the tiny white flowers appear, increase watering and this also is an indicator that your first new potatoes are ready to harvest. You can choice to dig these small potatoes or let them develop into larger spuds. A succession planting schedule from late March to late July will deliver fresh potatoes from May to October with the aid of crop extension systems and utilizing early to late maturing varieties giving longer harvest seasons.
When harvesting for storage, give the potatoes a few more weeks in the ground to thicken the skin. This will help the integrity and quality of the potato for storage and do not wash excess mud away from the skins as this will reduce the length of storage time of the potato. Avoid storing near apples as the applies will give off a chemical, damaging the potatoes. Potatoes can get late blight if humid weather exists with warm days and cooler nights. You may avoid this by planting certified disease seed potatoes. Viruses spread by aphids or infected seed tumers can be avoided by introducing floating row covers and again using certified disease free seed potatoes.
Practising good crop rotation will prevent root nematodes which will destroy the root systems causing the plant not to receive moisture and good crop rotation practices will also reduce potato scab.
The colorado potato beetle pest will chew holes in the leaves but can usually be hand picked off the plant if the problem exists. By interplanting a companion plant of horseradish in the corner of the plot will provide a barrier to repel these pests.