Table of contents:
- The success story of the potato
- Plant potatoes in your own garden - how it works
- Step 1: pre-germinate
- Step 2: prepare the bed
- Step 3: plant potatoes
- Step 4: care of the potato bed
- Step 5: harvest potatoes
- Step 6: store potatoes
- When the potato harvest is over
- Pests and diseases
Plant potatoes in your own garden? This is a good idea in many ways! Because the consumption of potatoes not only keeps you full for a long time, the tubers also contain many vitamins and minerals. You also have the opportunity to grow rare varieties that are not available in the supermarket, and the taste experience of a home-grown potato is very different from that of the purchased variant.
Regionally, potatoes are also known as pears or potatoes. They belong to the crops and come from the nightshade family. The Germans consume around 50 kilograms of potatoes per person per year, which is why the plant is one of the most popular foods. Due to its high vitamin and mineral content, the plant is also considered to be very healthy. The potassium content of a potato can help to lower high blood pressure.
Most people only think of the term 'potato' as the edible root bulb grown underground. However, the potato plant also includes leaf shoots above ground, which means that the herbaceous plants grow up to one meter high. From June to August the leaves and flowers appear in white, pink or violet with yellow anthers. This produces green and cherry-sized berries, which are inedible. The tubers hidden underground serve as nutrient stores and, depending on the variety, have an oval, round or elongated shape.
The variety of the flesh color of a potato ranges from white, yellow, orange to blue to violet.
Photo: Fotolia / Robby Schenk
There are hundreds of different types of potatoes in total. That is why the motley variety of flesh color varies from white, yellow, orange to blue to violet. The different harvesting periods of the different varieties also reduce the risk of crop failure due to pests or diseases.
The success story of the potato
In Germany, the potato was grown extensively from the 18th century, since Frederick the Great had it used as a basic food for his soldiers. With the beginning of industrialization in the 19th century, the potato became increasingly popular and replaced the use of grain. And the potato is still a very popular food today.
Every German eats around 50 kilograms of potatoes a year.
Photo: Fotolia / rdnzl
Plant potatoes in your own garden - how it works
According to your taste, the great variety of different potatoes can be planted in your own garden. The crop yields are immense.
Step 1: pre-germinate
You can pre-germinate potatoes as early as March if you want to harvest plants early. For this, take healthy and spotless potato plants and put them in a box in a bright but not sunny place. There should be about 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Small sprouts form on the plants over time. This process makes the plants more resistant to cool temperatures and pests. This gives you around 20 percent higher crop yield.
Step 2: prepare the bed
Two weeks before you plant the pre-germinated tubers in the bed, you should start preparing the bed. Dig the ground with a spade or a digging fork. Because the optimal soil is loose, moist and free of weeds. Then create rows of beds in an east-west direction and at least 50 centimeters apart. This heats and dries the surface faster. Add some compost or horn shavings to the soil.
Step 3: plant potatoes
Depending on the variety and region, potatoes can be placed at different times. While pre-germinated tubers are ready to be planted as early as mid-April - around six weeks after you have laid out the potatoes for pre-germination - in mountainous regions, you should wait until early May.
In any case, the optimal floor temperature is around nine degrees Celsius. Place the tubers in a large area at a distance of 30 to 40 centimeters and about ten centimeters deep in a bed full of humus and nutrients. As a basic rule, you calculate about four to five tubers per square meter.
Tip: Never plant potatoes next to tomatoes. Because this allows fungal diseases such as leaf blight and brown rot to be transferred from the potatoes to the tomato plants.
Step 4: care of the potato bed
Pile soil around the perennial as soon as it grows about 20 centimeters high.
Photo: Fotolia / Digitalpress
As soon as the potatoes show the first green, they need a lot of water. Therefore, it is best to water the plants sufficiently in the morning when it is dry. So the surface of the bed can dry again in the evening.
A very worthwhile process is the accumulation of soil around the perennials as soon as the stems of the potato plant have grown about 20 centimeters high. Repeat this process at regular intervals about every two to three weeks during the entire growth process. Because this way you can significantly increase the yield of the plant, since more daughter bulbs form.
Step 5: harvest potatoes
The easiest way to dig out the potatoes is with a digging fork.
Photo: Fotolia / fresh_water
Pre-sprouted potatoes have the advantage that they can be harvested from the end of June. Otherwise, the harvest is usually about three months after planting when the herb turns yellow. To test, dig a perennial from the ground on a dry day. If the peel of the potato does not come loose when grated and the tubers can be easily separated from the herb, you can start harvesting.
The easiest way to dig out the bulbs is with a digging fork. However, this can also lead to tuber injuries.
Step 6: store potatoes
Potatoes should be stored dark and cool - ideally between four and six degrees.
Photo: Fotolia / Tomas Skopal
Damaged, rotten or stained tubers should be sorted out immediately and the healthy specimens left to dry on the bed so that the adhering soil can crumble off almost by itself.
The harvested potatoes are then stored in a cool, dark place. A temperature between four and six degrees is optimal. This prevents the bulbs from forming green spots with harmful solanine. In addition, warmer storage favors the formation of germs and the breakdown of vitamin C. At cooler temperatures below zero degrees, the potato starch is converted into sugar and the taste is sweeter.
Airy slatted boxes are suitable for storage. It is not advisable to use airtight containers as these promote mold formation. We recommend using multiple boxes instead of a tall one. In this way you can better control the changes in the potatoes and sort out bad tubers more easily.
To prevent moisture loss and shrinkage of the tubers, cover the boxes with newspaper.
When the potato harvest is over
Potatoes are ideal as a preculture for all kinds of vegetables because they leave a nutrient-rich soil. You should only plant potatoes on the same property every four years. A regular change of fruit cultivation is very important for this.
Pests and diseases
If the herb turns brown from mid-June and the underside of the leaves is covered with a silvery mushroom, this indicates a blight on the herb and tubers. As a precaution, you should not plant the potatoes too close together. If your potatoes are affected by the disease, the herb must be removed and disposed of in the organic waste.
In contrast, poor growth and wilting of the leaves is a sign of nematode infestation (small nematodes). A cultivation break of at least four years has a preventive effect.
Aphids are also considered pests. These can be recognized by yellowed and rolled leaves, weaken the plant and lead to a reduction in yield. To keep aphids away, it is advisable to contain the plant shrub with mulch.
The Colorado beetle also affects the harvest by eating the plant and laying orange eggs on the underside of the leaf. The resulting larvae cause further damage. You can get the problem under control if you identify and remove the pest at an early stage. There are also various remedies that counteract the Colorado beetle and are nonetheless biodegradable.