Introduced in France in 1785 by Antoine Parmentier, the potato is a tuber vegetable edible very popular, easy to cook and suitable for a multitude of culinary preparations. It is not surprising that many gardeners wish to cultivate this famous potato as our Belgian and Canadian friends call it. You still need to have enough space in your garden to meet the needs of the whole family in terms of annual consumption. Here is all you need to know to succeed in growing potatoes for sure.
When to plant potatoes?
The planting period of potatoes varies somewhat from region to region as it is necessary to wait until the soil has warmed up sufficiently. Thus, we plant our potatoes in April in the North of the Loire but we can get down to it from mid-March in the regions further south which enjoy a mild climate.
Where to plant potatoes?
The potato needs a sunny exposure to develop well. It is therefore essential to reserve for it an area of the garden away from the house or from large trees because this tuber would suffer from their shade.
Before planting whole tubers, care is taken to prepare the ground beforehand by turning it over to a depth of 30 to 35 cm, spade or to tiller according to his preference (or his physical capacities). This is a step not to be overlooked because the potato thrives in light and rich soil, well supplied with nutrients.
The ground absolutely must be well movable, without clods, stones or roots. After the digging, you must therefore take the time to break up the largest clods of earth and then remove stones and plant debris.
Add fertilizer before planting
The fertilizer should allow the potato plants to benefit from a supply of potassium essential for plant growth. Spreading can be done during the winter if this time of year is chosen to prepare the land for planting potatoes. However, care must be taken to cultivate this type of tuber vegetable in soil rich in compost or in manure. A potato fertilizer can also be buried in the earth.
How to plant potatoes?
It is necessary to count four seed potatoes per square meter. Here is the planting method to follow to grow this tuber vegetable.
- Digging furrows taking care to respect a 60 cm interval between two if you want to grow several rows of potatoes. Each furrow must be 15 cm deep.
- Place the tuberous vegetables 10 cm deep in the furrows, taking care to respect the following points:
- Separate the tubers from each other 35 to 40 cm,
- Orient the germ of each tuber upwards,
- Above all, do not break the germs.
- Cover with earth,
It is not wise to reduce the distance between two furrows because it allows each row of potatoes to be sufficiently spaced from the others, thus limiting the risk of contamination in case of illness or invasion of unwanted people. It is also essential in order to have enough space when you need to maintain your potato platters. Also, when you have a very small garden where space is particularly limited, it is preferable to reduce the number of rows.
How to maintain your potato crop in the garden?
Even if the potato culture is not rocket science, it is still necessary to take care of a minimum of these tubers until the harvest which will also be more abundant.
Watering the potatoes
Be careful, the potato does not like wet soils. It is therefore necessary to have a light hand on the waterings! Gardening pros know it well, it is not on the furrows that we water but rather between the rows and the water jet must be directed so as not to wet the leaves. Irrigation should be done in moderation when weather conditions require it.
Butter the rows of potatoes
The ridging consists of bringing earth along the stems, on a height from 12 to 15 cm. This has the effect of protecting the tubers from light. If this is not done, the brightness will irreparably cause a greening potatoes which are then unfit for consumption since they become toxic.
It is absolutely crucial to butter at two periods very specific:
- As soon as the plants emerge,
- Between three and four weeks after emergence, when the stems reach a height of 25 cm.
The ridging also has the effect of maintaining the young shoots (strollers).
Hoe the rows of potatoes
It is very useful to hoe the rows regularly because it eliminates unwanted weeds, keeps the soil loose, and limits watering.
Monitor unwanted and disease attacks
Depending on its variety, the potato is more or less susceptible to insects and diseases. The risks are much less numerous if one cultivates the Charlotte and the Chérie while the Belle de Fontenay and the Amandine will have to benefit from increased vigilance. However, the two main enemies of the potato are:
- The Colorado beetle: it can be eliminated by hand as soon as it appears,
- The mildew : this dreadful disease which can overcome an entire plot in just a few days is due to the presence of mushroom Phytophthora infestans. Decoction of horsetail and Bordeaux mixture are natural solutions which have largely demonstrated their effectiveness in this area.
We can also sometimes see an attack of “wireworms” whose head is brown in color and the body yellowish. These are the wireworm larvae. They attack roots that are still young and are found mainly in damp soil. Good hoeing is essential to eliminate larvae and eggs. Potato peelings can be buried shallow after placing them in containers to act as traps. This type ofbait is very useful because it works well. We simply “harvest” the unwanted and burn them for example. The traps must be put back in place with new peelings.
Here ! It remains only to wait for the moment of the harvest his potatoes, or between June and November depending on the variety cultivated. Potatoes new also called early potatoes are fairly early. These are the ones that can be pulled up two to three months after planting. We can still collect for each square meter of crop between 2.5 and 5 kg of potatoes, which is very appreciable.
Lovers of good garden products who make a point of honor gardening with the moon can plant their potato plants in waning moon, provided it is during an air constellation such as Aquarius, Capricorn, or Taurus.