An early season classic and staple of most mountain gardens, the potato seems to be in high demand around here lately. After my recent pick up and distribution of a literal ton (2,000 lbs) of seed potatoes, I realized how much people really do like their potatoes. Since most people I know seem to grow at least a small “tater patch” I thought I would offer a few bits of useful information about potato planting.
Potatoes can be grown as either an early crop to be eaten during the summer or as a late crop for storage and winter consumption. Planting date and potato variety are important in considering which use you have in mind for your crop. For early season potatoes plant them from mid March to early April and choose an early maturing variety. For a late season crop plant around mid June and choose a late maturing variety.
Potatoes require a good dose of fertilizer, around ¼ lb. of 10-20-10 organic equivalent per 75 row ft. This should be mixed into the bottom of a 5” to 6” deep furrow before you place your potato pieces in them. Also, when cutting your pieces you should leave 2 to 3 eyes per piece and space them 10” to 12” apart.
Another important consideration is that potato is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family along with peppers, tomato, egg plant and tobacco. That being said it is wise to be diligent in planning your crop rotations as to avoid many of the plant diseases that are associated with these common crops.
For more information about growing potatoes and various other crops in Kentucky see http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf.