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Since its introduction from its region of origin, the potato has - with a few teething problems - developed into a perennial favorite when it comes to staple foods. Robust, productive and filling, it used to be reserved for the poorer sections of the population. With its culinary versatility, however, it is now an integral part of almost every menu. The following step-by-step instructions for planting the popular tubers will show you how you can harvest and enjoy potatoes from your own garden as a self-supporter.

potato cultivation

That's how it works

Solanum tuberosum, popularly known as the common potato, has a very wide tolerance with regard to your site requirements and the possible planting location. It thrives in tropical areas as far as northern Europe and comparable vegetation zones and should therefore be quite uncomplicated for self-sufficient people in Germany.

location requirements

Potatoes need a warm soil environment to develop well. From around 8 °C, the bulbous plant thrives and develops the desired yields. Moderately moist soil provides the plant with the necessary basis for growth, while sunny and well-ventilated locations promote lush growth and the absence of rot due to waterlogging.

From the potato to the rich harvest: instructions

First of all, for less experienced hobby gardeners, a special feature of the potato should be pointed out. Although the plant develops berries on its above-ground shoots, from which the seeds later emerge, the cultivation is based on the propagation from existing ones tubers resorted to. Breeding from seeds is unusual and also not possible within our growing season. Potatoes can therefore do without pollination, which is otherwise indispensable, since each new plant is ultimately just a kind of offshoot of an existing plant that is pulled from an existing piece of root - the tuber.

Putting potatoes step by step

1. Ground preparation

  • Loosen the soil deep down and prepare it with basic fertilizer and a high nitrogen reservoir for good growth conditions (e.g. manure, humus, universal fertilizer, etc.),
  • remove large stones or foreign objects
  • form furrows for the subsequent insertion of the tubers
  • Furrow distance between each other 60 - 70 cm
  • The depth of the furrow corresponds approximately to the diameter of the potato

2. Planting the tubers

  • Stick the potato in the furrow and press lightly into the ground
  • Tuber distances on average 30 to 40 cm
  • When planting potatoes, let the shoots look upwards
  • Cover the furrows with soil on both sides and pile them up to form a mound of soil about 20 centimeters high

tip: The dam ensures faster and better heating of the soil around the tuber and thus better growing conditions. The formation of side shoots with other harvestable tubers is favored and stimulated. The loose, warm soil of the earth dam also stimulates soil life, which results in better nutrient delivery to the plants.

3. Care

  • Water the soil moderately in high heat and strong sunlight
  • Fertilize regularly three to four times over the growing season
  • check for pests and diseases and, if necessary, combat them at an early stage by using fungicides or pesticides
  • Regularly check the soil dam, if tubers emerge from the soil or lumps are spotted by tubers, raise the dam to prevent the potatoes from turning green due to light exposure (greening = inedibility)

diseases and pests

Widespread are:

  • Cabbage and root rot, leading to the eponymous rot of the plant
  • Colorado potato beetle, damages plants by eating leaves and shoots
  • Wireworms damage tubers by eating burrows and subsequently rotting the tubers
Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata

4. Harvest

  • Harvest time can be identified by the wilting of the potato haulm, ideally wait until the haulm is completely brown and dry
  • Ideal harvesting tools: digging fork, potato hoe or fork, so that you carefully pull off the ridge of earth piece by piece from one end and remove any tubers that become free, working in all directions even below ground level to prevent tubers from forming
  • Remove potato inserts from the harvest for sowing in the following year and set aside, store in a cool, dry place away from light to prevent damage and reduced growth

Variants and deviations in planting and care

Although the cultivation of potatoes, regardless of the variety, can be done quite easily and without great variance, there are always different starting points to influence individual aspects of growth in a targeted manner. The following changes can result in the effects listed below:

Planting distance of the tubers in the furrow

Deviating from the usual distance of 30 to 40 centimetres, this can be reduced, for example to obtain particularly small tubers (baby potatoes, "triplets", etc.), then a growth distance of 18 to 25 centimeters is recommended

Driving the cuttings

In order to shorten the growth time of the plant, you can let the tubers grow in a cool but bright place for the first shoots to develop around four to a maximum of eight weeks before planting. The brighter the location is chosen, the stronger and more resistant the shoots will be.

Sharing seed potatoes

The division of seed potatoes is tried and tested, but mostly unknown today. Particularly large specimens can thus be cut up and placed in the ground as half a tuber. These usually also drive without any problems.

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