Why most gardeners fail to produce quality tubers when it is easy to grow potatoes?
Your potato plants need to be watered depending on it’s growth stages. University of NEBRASKA–LINCOLN, states according to potato plant roots, vines and tuber growing stages soil must be saturated with moisture.
During growing season, this root vegetable need to be watered more frequently. Failing which can results in poor tubers.
To obtain a bountiful of harvest, you must consistently supply water without allowing the growing soil to fully dry.
Along with water, fertilizers, sunlight and well-drained soil help the plant to thrive; having said that, water is responsible to uproot nutrients and minerals from the soil to plant.
Coming to core topic, how often should I water my potatoes?
Remember this: Too much or too low can overwater or underwater your potato plant.
You should water your potato plants after every 1-2 days. Make sure to check the soil for dryness. Don’t water if the soil is moist and sticky.
You can check the moisture by inserting your index finger up-to 1 inch in the soil.
There are various factors like temperature, plant location, soil and climatic conditions that must be considered while watering your plants.
Know Potato Plant Before Growing
Trust me as a gardener it is worth spending few seconds knowing about the growing conditions of your potato plant.
Among all root vegetables, potatoes are the one that gift you with bountiful of tubers. Every potato plant will thrill you with 8-10 tubers.
- Soil: Well drained loose soil (loamy soil)
- Water: 1 inch every week
- Sunlight: Full sun
- Fertilizer: Liquid fertilizer, every 2 weeks
- Temperature: 61F to 66 F
- Frost: Can tolerate little frost
Also Read: Growing potatoes in tires
How Often Should You Water Potatoes?
The watering needs of potato plants grown in grow bags or raised beds are same as potato plants grown with any other method, except container grown potatoes.
You can use the methods mentioned above to plant potatoes at home. Depending on the area available, your harvest goals, and your budget, you can choose any way and work with it.
To ensure that the potato plants are healthy and nourished, a regular watering schedule is necessary. Consistent and even moisture is a quintessential requirement of potatoes.
The watering demands of the plant will depend on its growing phase.
Too much water can cause water logging and 14, and on the other hand, too little water can affect the development of the plant.
If extended amounts of water are given in the early stages of development, the potato plants might not grow properly and become misshapen.
- The rule is to water the plant 1 to 2 inches of water a week. Water is to be given so that the soil stays moist and not wet. Do not saturate the plant with water.
- Watering a young potato plant every 4-5 days is ideal and will ensure that the soil stays moist. Once the tubers form, increase the frequency to once every 2-3 days. Watering regularly keeps the soil cool.
- Therefore start with watering the plant once 4-5 days and increase the frequency to once every 2-3 days when the tubers form and flowers bloom.
Also Read: How to Store Potatoes After Harvest?
How to Avoid Overwatering Potatoes?
Choose the right soil (well-drained) and water the plant when the soil is dry by 70 percent. In winter, reduce watering frequency to avoid overwatering issue.
Though water has important role in plant’s life, excess can rot tubers.
If you’re growing potatoes in containers, then you should be extra careful while watering plants.
A drainage hole is very important to let go excess water from the pot.
Wrong growing soil can also result in overwatering issues. How to know your plant is having overwatering issue?
Yellowing leaves, stunted growth and rotting smell from roots are some signs of overwatering.
To revive, stop watering your plant and allow the soil to dry. If needed shift the location, so the plant can get enough sunlight.
This is another common issue faced by new gardeners.
It often occurs when you’re on a vacation. Drooping, yellow foliage and stunted growth are common signs of underwatered potato plant.
Next time when you go out, appoint someone to water your plants.
You can also try self-watering technique if you’re planning for a holiday less than a week.
Choosing wrong potting soil can often fail to retain extra moisture, resulting in underwatered plant.
New gardeners avoid these two problems, underwatering and overwatering. According to your climatic conditions, regulate watering frequency.
How Often Should I Water Potatoes in Containers?
Water potatoes in containers once every 3 days during the early stage and then once every two day after the tubers sprout.
Unlike your backyard, when you grow potatoes in container you’ll have maximum control over the soil temperature.
In regions where the winter is harsh your potato plants must be protected indoors or in a greenhouse, else the plant will be killed.
Another benefit of growing potatoes in containers is you don’t have to worry about the climatic conditions outside. You can start growing the tubers indoors.
Important things to consider before growing potatoes in containers:
- Potting soil must be well-drained and loamy
- Container must have drainage hole
- Plant location must receive maximum sunlight
- Regulate watering schedule depending on the climatic conditions in your region
How to Save Water When Watering Potatoes?
Not just watering, you must also ensure the water isn’t evaporated into atmosphere in summer.
Mulching your potato plant with hay grass is one of the best ways to reduce watering escape.
You can use organic mulch like compost, dry leaves, newspaper, wood chips, grass clippings and seedless hay, which eventually degrade and build-up the soil.
Watering Potatoes in Summer & Winter
Not giving enough moisture to your potato plants can result in poor tubers.
With rises temperatures, you must thoroughly water your plants.
Don’t wait until you see the leaves dry or start wilting.
When you notice 70 percent of the soil is dry, water thoroughly.
What is the Best Way to Water Potatoes?
You might think watering plants is no-brainer. But with poor watering habits many gardeners either kill their plants or reduce the yield.
Best time to water potato plants: When the sunlight is weakest, early in the morning, water your vegetable garden. So, the plant’s foliage will have enough time to dry.
Water generously; this will help roots grow stronger and deep.
Water at the base of the plant, this will ensure the water directly reach plant’s root.
- Traditional hand watering your potato plants will save water and the potato plant gets enough moisture for the day.
- Second method is drip irrigation, this way you’ll save water and time.
Using overhead sprinkler to water vegetable garden isn’t recommended. This will leave moisture on the foliage that may attract fungus.
When to Stop Watering Potatoes?
Most potatoes grow within 90 days from planting.
Once the plant reaches its maturity level and you see leaves turning yellow. Stop watering 2 weeks before harvesting. While harvesting the soil must be dry and you can easily dig the tubers.
How can I tell if my potato plants need watering?
Insert your finger in the potting soil, if you notice the soil is dry by 1 inch, then water your potato plant generously till you see excess water is drained out of the container.
Can I overwater potato plants?
Container gardeners often face this issue of overwatering their plants. Excess water logged at bottom of the pot results in root rotting and yellow leaves. Your potato plant will experience stunted growth. Avoid it.
When and Where to Grow Potatoes?
Potatoes can be quickly grown to have a bountiful harvest in home gardens. While potatoes can survive in somewhat cold climates, they thrive in warm environments.
As soon as winter recedes, the frost melts, and spring arrives, You can plant potato seeds. Potato is a tuber or an underground storage stem with more than 100 varieties available worldwide.
It is best to grow potatoes in a place that receives strong sunshine. One can produce potatoes at home in several ways, but all involve good sunlight.
The potato growing season will depend on the climate your country experiences. In cool-weather climates, You should plant potatoes after the last frost date. Remember, frost is deadly for potatoes.
In warm-climate countries with hot summers and mild winters, potatoes should be planted during late summer when the weather starts to cool down.
Also Read: How to: Growing Perpetual Spinach?
How to Grow Potatoes at Home?
There are several different ways to plant potatoes in the comfort of your home. Depending on the abundant sunshine area available and your budget, you can choose one of the following methods
The cheapest way to grow potatoes at home is to use hilled rows. First, till the soil to prepare the area available, dig straight and shallow trenches two to three feet apart.
Plant potato seeds 12 inches apart and covers three inches of soil. When the shoots reach ten to twelve inches of height, use a shovel, scoop the earth from between the rows, and mound it next to the plants.
Making hilled rows is a simple, inexpensive way to grow potatoes as it doesn’t require buying new materials or spending money on creating a home garden. Instead, available soil can be tilled and prepared to plant potatoes.
Another easy method of growing potatoes is using straw mulch. This method requires no digging and little human resources.
Place The Russian is on the surface of the prepared soil and space 3 to 4 inches apart. Now cover them with seedless straw mulch.
As the plants grow, mound more straw around them; eventually, it will create a crater a foot in depth. Straw mulch conserves moisture and smothers weeds, effectively negating insecticides and ensuring organic produce. However, the crop is less than that of hilled rows.
Raised beds are infamous for giving a very high yield of crops. For example, plant potatoes in raised beds, loosen the soil at the bottom, approach potato seeds 12 inches apart, and then bury them three inches deep.
As the potatoes grow, add more soil till the bed is filled. This method produces high yields. Raised beds are an excellent choice for ground that is heavily drained.
Wooden boxes can be made at home from some lumber and further used as raised beds. It also has good yields and is an excellent choice for an area with poor-quality soil.
Crop grow bags are widely available commercially. Just add some soil compost in the bottom and plant three to four seeds in each pack; cover three inches of soil.
Add soil as the plants grow till the bag is full. Then, to harvest, tip the bag to the side. These bags are reusable and last for several growing seasons.
Grow bags are inexpensive and work well. They take little space, and the results are fantastic.
How Long Do Potatoes Take to Grow?
The time to maturity of potato plants depends on their variety. Early-season varieties take approximately 70 to 90 days, while mid-season types take 90-135 days and late-season sorts take 90 to 135 days.
Depending on the climate you live in, choose a variety; for instance, if you live in a cold environment, choose an early-season type as you do not have much time to harvest it.
The time between the arrival of spring and the next snow should be a guiding light when you have to harvest potatoes.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Grow & harvest potatoes?
Here is an easy and beginner-friendly guide to planting and harvesting potatoes.
#1 Seed potatoes
Potatoes are grown vegetatively, and thus one needs to buy seed potatoes on which new sprouts will grow. Next, look for potatoes covered in “eyes,” which will sprout into full-grown plants.
Take your seed potatoes and place them in an excellent, sunny spot two weeks before planting them; this encourages sprouting.
#3 Cut them
Cut your seed potatoes into pieces (two days before planting); ensure that the size is not too small nor too big. Make sure that each piece has at least two sprouts.
#4 Choose your potato bed
Please choose the method you will use to plant potatoes: a raised bed, grow bags, or small hills. Choose a place that has plenty of sunlight.
The soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic, with a pH of 4.8-5.2. Dig shallow trenches that are long enough to plant potatoes in. Choose organic material and keep space for planting seeds eight inches apart.
#5 Plant your seed potatoes
Plant seed potatoes in trenches dug with sprouts facing upwards. Cover them lightly with soil; do not press down.
Provide one to two inches of water every week to the plants and maintain even moisture: water the entire area evenly so that the potatoes don’t crack or become misshapen.
#7 Sprinkling soil
You must keep potato tubers under the soil to ensure proper growth; thus, lightly sprinkle the soil on the growing tubers periodically to keep them under it.
#8 Keep them pest disease-free
Several bugs, pests, and beetles can attack your potato plants; they can spoil your harvest by riddling it with disease or killing the plants.
Regularly check on your plants and put neem-insecticide if you see any pests. You can also nourish plants with compost tea and make sure that the pH isn’t above 5.
Watering potato plants depends on various factors including climatic conditions in your region.
In simple words, water potatoes when the soil is dry. You can check this by inserting your index into the soil.
Avoid overwatering and underwatering your vegetable garden. Choose well-drained soil that is fertile and is exposed to full sun.
Along with temperature, gardeners must consider growing stage of potatoes while watering.
Khaja Moinuddin, a computer science graduate, finds joy in gardening and homesteading. Join him on this blog as he shares his experiences in homesteading, gardening, and composting