QUESTION: I didn’t harvest a lot of potatoes last season. I was a little disappointed with the effort I put into it and I’m not really sure what happened. How do I increase my potato yield? Any tips for me? -Tim W
ANSWER: To make sure you’ll harvest lots of potatoes, there are lots of things you can do. At the beginning of the season, start by cutting your seed potatoes into pieces about the size and shape of an ice cube, each with two eyes. Then chit your potatoes by letting them start sprouting in a light, cool spot like a greenhouse, sunny porch, or windowsill in late January or early February. Rub off all but three or four of the sprouts that develop before you plant the seed potato pieces.
Use a hilling setup when you plant your potatoes, too. Start with trenches that are four inches deep and three to five feet apart, and space your seed potato chunks about a foot apart inside the trenches. Cover with four inches of soil and water deeply. Once the potatoes have grown greenery that’s eight inches tall, start building the hills by piling the soil from the sides of the trenches into hills around the stems of your potato plants. Always leave some of the sprouts sticking out of the ground so the plants will keep growing, and keep building your hills all season long as the plants grow larger.
Make sure to start your potatoes early enough to max out your harvest. Don’t let your plants sit in soil that’s dried out, and make sure they get water on a consistent and regular basis. Grow potatoes in soil that’s loamy, deep, and loose but not too rich for them. Soil for potatoes should also be slightly acidic, with a pH level between 4.8 and 5.4. (Not sure of your soil’s pH level? Refer to our article How to Test pH in Your Soil.) A good soil blend for growing potatoes is two parts garden soil to one part compost. Make sure not to crowd your plants and to provide them with excellent drainage. As long as you follow these tips, you should have a hefty harvest of potatoes at the end of the season.