Planting potatoes is a good idea. Indeed, production can be abundant for relatively simple work. However, it is necessary to choose a suitable cultivation place, find the right tubers and dedicate the necessary care, as well as adapt to a specific type of cultivation. Explanations and advice.

When to plant potatoes: choose the ideal period

Potatoes are planted when the risk of severe frosts has now passed . Depending on the region, this period runs from late February in southern areas to early May in cold mountain areas.

According to an ancient peasant tradition, potatoes are planted starting from 19 March, St. Joseph’s day. It is in fact a temporal reference based on the fact that in this period of the year, the climatic conditions are ideal. The soil temperature must be at least 10 ° C.

In general, you can start planting potatoes between the end of March and the beginning of June in the regions of northern Italy, from February to May in the center, while in the south and in the warmer regions, in addition to the classic spring sowing recommended between February and March. , it is also possible to practice autumn sowing, planting potatoes between September and October to cultivate them in the coldest period.

To get potatoes very early, choose early varieties that are harvested in 3 months , such as ” Primura “, ” Monalisa ” and ” Favorita “. By staggering the sowing you will be able to benefit from early potatoes for a longer period of time.

The ideal soil type

How To Plant Potatoes

The best soil is good light garden soil with a good humus content , in an airy (open field) and sunny location . Do not plant in too moist soil.

In crop rotation, they are planted after a fussy vegetable that received a significant supply of fertilizers and compost in the previous season. When planting potatoes, distribute a fertilizer rich in potassium to the soil, which is necessary for the growth of the tubers and do not use nitrogen fertilizers.

It is also preferable not to plant potatoes on a plot of land where they have been grown in the previous 4 years . Doing so will prevent the spread of diseases or parasites that can persist in a latent state.

Choose between different seed tubers

On the market there are various tubers for planting, with dimensions ranging from 25 mm to 50 mm . Preferably choose the tubers based on the number of shoots or eyes they have, as each of them will give life to a stem that will produce 2 to 4 tubers.

The sprouted tubers

Seed potatoes are often sold when they are already sprouted, in crates and ready to plant. They must have short shoots, 1 to 2 cm long, and thick, well colored , to ensure rapid and regular growth.

There are also tubers arranged inside boxes in a single layer, with the shoots facing upwards, to ensure greater regularity of germination.

The non-sprouted tubers

Cheaper, these tubers are sold in bags or cardboard boxes; they have been stored at a low temperature to prevent germination. It is therefore up to the final consumer, the gardener, to make them germinate by placing them in the light and at a moderate temperature , ideally from 5 to 8 ° C, for a month, before planting them.

Plant the tubers from the previous year’s crop

It is often said that you shouldn’t plant potatoes from your crop because they degenerate. In reality, potato planting is a form of cutting, since the tuber is nothing more than a part of the underground stem that is swollen and full of starch reserves.

Like all cuttings, it will give life to a plant with the same characteristics as the plant that in turn produced it. You can then plant the previous year’s potatoes, if they haven’t received anti- germinating treatments , and continue planting them year after year. Contrary to popular belief, the potato does not degenerate.

The only difference compared to commercial plants is that the latter are certified as healthy and virus-free , a certainty that you cannot have with your potatoes. However, some growers select the prettiest tubers and successfully replant the same potatoes every year.

How to plant potatoes

In cleared soil, dig a furrow about 6 inches deep with the help of a hand ploughshare , heart hoe or hoe. Place the tubers on the bottom of the furrow at a distance of 30/40 cm from each other, possibly with the shoots facing upwards.

Close the furrow with the hoe or rake by removing too hard clods or large stones. If you plant in several rows, space the grooves about 70 cm apart . For early harvest varieties, you can opt for a denser plant. Unlike other vegetables, there is no point in compacting the soil and watering after planting, as the soils have sufficient water supply during this time for the potatoes to sprout .

Digging the furrows is not mandatory: you can also decide to deposit the potatoes one by one in a hole dug in the ground with a hoe , a shovel or even a bulb plant before covering it.

Tips for planting potatoes well:

  • Handle the tubers carefully so as not to break the fragile shoots.
  • You can use a string to draw straight lines.
  • Potatoes go well with legumes (beans, peas and broad beans)

What is potato tamping

The tamping is not really a phase of the actual planting, as it is carried out several weeks later , but it is an indispensable operation. It consists in bringing the earth back around the plant once it has reached 15/20 cm in height, forming a small heap, about 6 weeks after planting, but obviously it depends on the climatic conditions.

In the case of potatoes planted in a row, a continuous heap will then form on the potato line. You can do this by using a hoe, hoe or ploughshare . At the end, a good tamping must have a height of about 20 cm with respect to the inter-row.

The aim of tamping is to:

  • favor the appearance of underground stems at the base of the aerial stems;
  • protect the surface tubers from daylight which makes them green, therefore not suitable for consumption;
  • keep the stems vertical, at least for varieties that tend to bend.

Plant the potatoes in the straw

It is called cultivation under mulching or with the “mulching” technique, since other covering materials other than straw can be used, such as hay, dead leaves, macerated vegetables … The advantage is that it does not require any tillage, or only on the surface, since the rhizomes will be superficial and not buried. There is also no tamping and harvesting is facilitated : it will be enough to remove the straw to take the potatoes.

If you decide to adopt this method, do it when the soil is warm enough, in spring: in fact, the cover will prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating the soil, thus heating it. Preferably choose an early variety: “Primura” or “Charlotte” .

On soft soil, arrange the potato plants by burying them in half in staggered rows every 30cm . Then, cover the whole plot with straw or hay , to a thickness of 15 cm. When the plants have grown well, add another 10cm layer of straw, always leaving the top leaves free. However, this method is not recommended in the presence of voles in the garden: well hidden under the straw, they will feed on the tubers daily. If you have a large amount of compost , even if it’s not fully decomposed, use it instead of straw. The yield will only improve.

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