Growing potatoes is not difficult. In order to harvest a lot of delicious tubers, be sure to avoid these mistakes.
Whether in the bed or tub: potatoes are easy to grow yourself. During growth, the nightshade plants require little care, moreover, the cultivation period of the popular vegetable is relatively short. Nevertheless, there are a few points to consider so that the plants remain healthy and form abundant tubers.
Mistake 1: Do not pre-sprout potatoes
The main problems in potato cultivation are late blight and Colorado potato beetle. Late blight is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans, which loves warm, humid weather. In infected plants, the haulm turns brown from mid-June, and as the disease progresses, the entire potato plants die. The voracious Colorado potato beetle also becomes active in June – this is when it lays its eggs on the undersides of the leaves of the nightshade plants. In order to prevent diseases and pests, pre-sprouting potatoes from mid-February onwards has proven to be effective. It is especially useful for early varieties – they can then be harvested as early as mid to late May. The pre-sprouted potatoes ripen before late blight and Colorado potato beetle can really get going. To ensure that the seed potatoes form bright green, strong shoots, place them in egg cartons or boxes filled with soil. In a bright, not too warm place, they germinate within a few weeks and can move to the vegetable patch as early as the end of March.
Mistake 2: Do not prepare the soil properly
For a successful potato harvest, proper soil preparation is also quite crucial. You can expect lower yields if you forget to loosen the soil well and spread humus before planting the potatoes. Only in light to medium-heavy, deep soil can the roots of potato plants spread unhindered. The looser the soil, the more tubers will develop. In addition, potatoes are among the highly nutritious plants that like humus-rich soil. Sandy soils are therefore improved with mature manure or compost. Our tip: On heavy soils, first spread planting soil and thoroughly loosen the substrate with a sow tooth. Also, before you start mounding the potatoes, loosen the soil well and remove weeds.
Mistake 3: Washing storage potatoes after harvesting
After harvesting, it is important to store the potatoes properly. To allow the skin of storage potatoes to harden, harvest them no earlier than two weeks after the haulm has died back; depending on the climate, this is usually from mid-September. Carefully lift the tubers out of the bed with a digging fork and let them dry out a bit in an airy spot in the sun. If soil sticks to the potatoes, it should not be washed off under any circumstances: When dry, the attached soil has a preservative effect and protects the tubers from rotting. To prevent the potatoes from sprouting prematurely, make sure to store them in a dark and cool place. By the way: Tubers in the supermarket are cleaned, but often treated with anti-rot substances.