The reality is, you are going to need food to survive. In a worst-case scenario, there will be no more grocery stores and you’ll have only yourself to depend on.
This is where your farming or gardening skills will come into play.
An important food to consider growing is the potato. They are high in fiber, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Vitamin C. It’s also high in carbohydrates – about 26 grams in a medium potato. Let’s not forget it also has protein and even calcium.
Potatoes can also be used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka or to make snack foods like potato chips.
Potatoes are actually underground stems, that become swollen with stored starch. Depending on the variety you grow, they should mature anywhere 90 to 180 days.
The potatoes grow right below the surface of the soil, so to prevent them from becoming exposed (and turning green), mound the surrounding soil around the potato plant several times as it grows, leaving only about 6 inches of the top growth visible.
Keep the plants well-watered and free of weeds.
Whenever harvesting potatoes, make sure that you handle them gently to avoid bruising. Do not expose them to the sun or strong wind longer than necessary.
So just how do you grow potatoes?
Well, first you need to consider the type of potatoes you want to grow. I suggest starting with a russet, as they are an excellent source of vitamin C, B6, magnesium, fiber, and also contain some iron.
Growing russet potatoes in your garden is satisfying and easy to do since this vegetable crop requires little maintenance.
Instead of planting the seed from potato flowers, you’ll find it much easier and get quicker results by planting cut-up pieces or small-sized tubers called “seed potatoes“, or you can also cut up the ones that are sprouting in your pantry.
- If your seed potato is golf ball size or smaller you can plant it whole.
- Larger than that and you’ll want to cut it into pieces that have 2 or 3 eyes each.
Before fertilizing your soil with anything, it’s important to conduct a soil test and see how healthy it is. It’s the best way to know what your soil needs without adding any unnecessary or harmful elements. The ideal soil environment for your potatoes to grow in includes:
- Soil mixed with compost and a combination of macronutrients. Potatoes consume nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
- pH levels of 5.0 to 6.5.
- Soil that doesn’t contain any decaying green matter.
Keep controlling the quality of your soil through soil tests even after planting.
You’ll want to plant the seed potato sprout-side-up in a hole 4 inches deep. Make trenches in the soil about 4 inches deep and plant your potatoes about 4 inches apart at a minimum. Space determines the size of your potatoes. The closer they’re planted, the smaller your tubers come out. So while you want to put them 4 inches apart at a minimum, 8 to 12 inches is okay too.
Press firmly so it makes good contact with the soil and then cover it with about 2 inches of compost or soil.
Next, you’ll want to keep an eye on your plan, and when the stem has grown 6 inches or taller, it’s time to cover half of the stem with another 2 to 4 inches of soil.
Drought stress is a problem when growing potatoes so make sure your plat is getting 1 to 2 inches of water a week. In addition, you’ll want to add a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch on top to conserve moisture.
Make sure the potatoes stay covered with soil. Those exposed to the sun might develop toxic green patches on your potato. If that happens, you will want ot cut them off, before eating the potato. Potatoes are pretty easy to grow, but you have to be careful about keeping them covered in soil and making sure they get enough water.
- Feed plants every couple of weeks, once you see, stems poking through the soil with an organic liquid plant food. I’m a fan of fish emulsion. It’s a great way to grow happy, healthy plants and the stuff has a really long shelf life. This stuff seriously never goes bad, as long as you shake it thoroughly before use.