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4010 Mt Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, CA, 94549

Located in the Bay Area, CA, we're a family-owned garden center offering unusual and hard-to-find plants & gifts. Established 1946.

Life is Beautiful Blog

Potato Growing Guide

Blaire Benson

Now is the time to get your seed potatoes in the ground to ensure a mid-summer harvest. We have a variety of tubers in stock for spring and will guide you through the growing process!

Tubers the size of a hen’s egg can be planted whole; larger potatoes should be cut into 'seeds,' meaning a small piece of potato with 2-3 'eyes.' Allow the tubers a day to 'heal over' before planting, but be sure to not allow them to dry out. A few of the tubers may have begun to sprout, this growth should remain on the tuber. If broken off, the emergence of the vines will be delayed and ultimately reduce the size of the potato.

When planting potatoes in our clay soil, you will have to amend the area to create light, loose and moisture-retentive soil ideal to tubers. To amend a 50 square foot area to an eight inch depth, mix the following in with your soil, plant and water thoroughly:

  • 10 cu. ft. of soil conditioner: Master Nursery Pay Dirt, Gold Rush or Bumper Crop
  • 5 lbs. FST Iron Sulphur or Garden Elements Soil Sulfur, used to acidify and break up clay
  • 10 lbs. Master Nursery Tomato-Vegetable or Flower Food or Garden Elements Organic All Purpose Fertilizer
  • 10 lbs. Gypsum

Plant in a shallow trench 6-8 inches deep with seed pieces 10-14 inches apart. With a rake, cover the seeds with roughly 3-4 inches of soil, be sure not to fill the trench completely. Depending on the temperature, sprouts should emerge in two weeks.

Once the stems measure roughly 8 inches high, you will need to hill the vines. Hilling, ridging up the soil around the base of the vine, is crucial when creating an environment for potatoes to thrive in. Mound the soil away from the sprouts, leaving about half the vine exposed. You will need to hill every 2 weeks for the first 6 weeks of growth, carefully adding only an inch or two of soil to the hill each week. Hilling is not an exact science, but adding too much soil will cover the leaves and reduce the yield, whereas adding too little will expose the potatoes to light, turning them green. 

For ease of gardening, we also carry potato bags in our shop. The bags can be placed on a porch or deck, no garden beds required! Utilizing the burlap bag will ensure that the plant isn’t overwatered or overheated.

The less water, the better for your potatoes. A light irrigation will keep the tubers less watery and in turn, produce better tasting potatoes. Note that potatoes are not drought resistant and will search out moisture when water is scarce.

Once the vines emerge and until blooming ends, we recommend foliar spraying every two weeks in the mornings when it is still cool. A fish emulsion and/or a liquid seaweed extract like GrowMore sprayed directly on the leaves will result in a higher yield and you can’t beat the ease of application! Once the vines are blooming, there is no need to fertilize; new vegetative growth has ceased and the tubers have begun to form. Additional fertilizing may affect the flavor of the potato.

After about 7 or 8 weeks you will see the earliest blossoms, signifying that the potatoes are ready! To check on whether the harvest is ready or not, you can “rob” a few tubers from the end of the row, avoiding injury to the roots and stressing the plant. If you wait patiently for the tops to die back naturally, your harvest will be more robust with a richer flavor. 

Choose from our many varieties and grow your own tubers, so they will be ready to be harvested this summer!