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The most popular tubers in this country are of course the potatoes. They originally come from the distant mountain regions of the Andes, where more than 500 varieties are still cultivated today. But many potato varieties also feel at home in our garden soil and provide us with a rich harvest year after year. If their modest demands are met, cultivation will be effortless.
They are also an ideal vegetable for beginners, you just need to know a few basic rules.
The potato plant likes it warm and light, which is why a sunny location is ideal. Only then does it thrive and form plentiful and large tubers. These are their other demands on the soil:
- light to medium soil
- not prone to waterlogging
A heavy, heavily loamy soil can be mixed with sand to loosen it up. The crop yield is more modest on poor soils.
tip: You can also harvest your own potatoes on the balcony, because this tuber even thrives in large pots.
As a beginner in potato cultivation, you will not have your own seed potatoes from the previous year in the first year of cultivation. However, these can easily be obtained from a garden center or hardware store. Larger supermarkets also have pre-germinated varieties available at planting time.
You can also grow leftover potatoes from your pantry. However, it may be that they germinate less well or that the yield is lower.
In Germany, potato varieties with a yellow skin are more common than potato varieties with a red skin. However, the coloring has no effect on the taste of the tuber.
Differentiation according to the time of cultivation and harvest
They are planted in March and harvested from July. They are consumed promptly and are not suitable for long storage. Well-known early starters are: Agata, Augusta, Rosara, Christa, Hela, Gloria, Karlena and Sieglinde.
You can grow them from April to May and harvest from August. Well-known varieties are: Agria, Afra, Nicola, Saskia, Blauer Schwede, Bintje, Hansa and Cilena.
After sowing in April or May, the harvest follows at the end of August or even as late as September. When ripe, they can be stored for long periods of time. The best-known representatives are: Aula, Bamberger Hörnchen, Datura, Granola and Palma.
tip: The late variety Vitelotte, also known as truffle potato, is considered a delicacy among gourmets. The yield remains modest, but she scores with a nutty-spicy taste.
Differentiation by starch content
Potato varieties differ in terms of starch content, which in turn affects their cooking properties.
Varieties such as Annabella, Bamberger Hörnchen, Linda and Sieglinde do not disintegrate when cooked. They remain firm and are therefore ideal for fried potatoes, salads and boiled potatoes.
Mealy boiling varieties
Cooking will soften them and the shell will pop open. Adretta, Augusta, Ackersegen, Ora are ideal for soups, puree and dumplings.
In addition, there are breeds that mainly boiled downd. They combine the properties of both types of potatoes. Agria, Bintje, Hella, Laura, Marabel and Toscana are some of these mixed varieties.
Popular varieties for easy entry
The sticky Linda tastes delicious and therefore has many fans. It is intensely yellow in color and offers aromatic pulp. It convinces with easy care and high yield.
This strain produces small and crooked tubers that are difficult to harvest by machine. However, its popularity has secured it a permanent place in private gardens. They are waxy and are often used in salads.
It is a relatively new strain on the market, classified as a species all-purpose potato is applicable. The tuber is oval and has yellow flesh. Everyone describes Belana as extremely delicious.
Exceptional and old varieties
In addition to the well-known, popular and frequently grown potato varieties, there are well over 200 other varieties that you can also grow in your own garden. Browse the internet, you might discover an interesting and 'forgotten' old variety or a variety with unusual properties.
Potato seed comes in spring into the prepared bed. The ideal time is always when the ground in the garden is not frozen. The temperature should therefore be above 8 °C so that the floor warms up sufficiently. The ideal time for planting the potatoes also depends on the variety chosen.
New potatoes herald the planting season as early as mid-March. From mid-April to mid-May, the medium-early and late potato varieties will follow. If you plant both types in combination and give them the best possible care, you can enjoy the harvest over a longer period of time.
Push potato tubers forward
In order for the growth of Solanum tuberosum, as the potato plant is botanically called, to start faster in the garden, the seed potatoes can already be propelled indoors.
- about 6 weeks before planting
- in a bright room
- at 10 °C to 15 °C
- the shoots should be about 3 cm long
Pushing the potatoes forward is common practice in potato cultivation and saves about three weeks.
Putting potatoes step by step
1. Loosen the soil and remove weeds.
2. To keep the rows nice and straight, you can mark them with a cord before planting. The row spacing should be 50 cm.
3. Dig a separate hole for each potato, 30 cm apart for new potatoes and 50 cm apart for other potato varieties. Alternatively, you can use a rake to make a 15 cm deep groove along the cord.
4. Insert the seed potatoes into the prepared holes or grooves, with the sprouts pointing upwards.
5. Cover the potato seed with soil.
6. When the first shoots appear, you should loosen the earth and pull out weeds.
7. Pile up the potato plants when they have reached a height of 30 cm. This means that around the base the earth is piled up into a hill.
Good and unfavorable neighbors
Different types of vegetables are grown in the garden at the same time, but not all of them get along equally well. The favorable arrangement of the plants also makes care easier, because horseradish, for example, drives away the Colorado potato beetle and tagetes helps against tuber blight.
Avoid planting potatoes next to peas, cucumbers, squash, celery, sunflowers, tomatoes and onions. The following types of vegetables, on the other hand, promise good neighbors:
It does not play a role when the potato is first cultivated, but if the cultivation is continued in the following years, the crop rotation must be observed. This plant leaches out the soil, so even the best care is of little use. The soil needs a chance to recover.
- only grow every four years in the same bed
- grow medium and low feeders in between
- Green manure recommended before planting potatoes again
- Sow clover, lupins, mustard or radish in the previous year
The basics of nutrient supply include the autumn fertilizer application.
- Dig up cultivation area first
- Spread manure or mature compost on top
- incorporate into the soil in spring
As a beginner in potato growing, you tend to do too much of a good thing due to a lack of experience. However, fertilizing during the growing season should not be overdone. The following should be noted:
- one or two more fertilizer applications are allowed
- prefer organic fertilizers such as horn shavings and manure
- they support the aroma of the tubers
Potatoes require potassium, phosphates, sulfur and nitrogen, which are found in many synthetic fertilizers. But with the synthetic fertilization are also some disadvantage connected:
- they adversely affect the flavor
- affect the shelf life
- there is also the risk of over-fertilization
Water is an elementary element for strong and healthy growth of the Solanum tuberosum. Here the gardener works hand in hand with nature. When the rain waters the potato plants from above, it is allowed to pause. If, on the other hand, the rain is a long time coming, the potato farmer has to reach for the watering can.
The following basics apply to watering the potatoes:
- Always water plants close to the base
- water in the morning or evening
- stagnant rainwater is ideal
- not cause waterlogging
- Water only when the soil is finger-deep dry
- Potted plants need to be watered more often
tip: When watering, it is better to use the watering can. The hard jet of water from a hose washes away the piled-up earth.
Diseases & Pests
Late blight likes to attack potatoes and can be recognized by the following signs:
- from June the cabbage turns brown
- a silver-white fungus is visible on the underside of the leaf
- the plant dies over time
This disease can be easily combated or prevented with the following measures:
- Pre-sprout potatoes
- choose an earlier planting date
- leave more distance when planting
- don't put it near tomatoes
- remove infected herb
- Burn diseased plant parts or put them in the bio bin
notice: The tubers should be taken out of the ground at the first sign of disease, before the disease can spread to them.
When growing potatoes in your own garden, you may encounter the following pests more frequently:
- Aphids as carriers of viral diseases
- Colorado potato beetle
Nematodes are small roundworms that occur particularly when potatoes have been grown on a field for several years in a row. The potato plants grow smaller than usual and their leaves wither. It is therefore essential to keep a cultivation break of 3 to 4 years. During this time, do not grow any other shade plants on the harvested area.
Viral diseases cause rolled and yellowed leaves on potato plants. They are weakened and the yield suffers. Aphids are the disease carriers, which is why they should be combated or avoided as a matter of priority. Choosing resistant cultivars is one way to counteract this disease. Mulching also prevents the spread of aphids.Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata
Colorado potato beetles eat the leaves of potato plants. What makes these pests such a threat is their enormous potential urge to reproduce. Numerous eggs are laid "hidden" on the underside of the leaves, and the hatched larvae also feed on the potato leaves.
- collect by hand in the early stages
- This limits proliferation
- special preparations help with advanced infestation
- some are also suitable for organic cultivation
The growing season usually lasts about three months. How to tell when it's time to get the tubers out of the ground:
- the parts of the plant above the ground have withered
- the potato skin is abrasion resistant
tip: An impatient beginner may well start looking for usable tubers before the actual start of the harvest. To do this, the earth is carefully removed, large potatoes removed and the earth piled up again.
To dig up the potatoes is one digging fork ideally suited as it protects the tubers from injury. Alternatively, a spade and a garden hoe can also be used.
The digging fork is stuck into the ground at a distance from the withered potato plant and then moved upwards like a lever. The stalk can now be pulled out together with the tubers. The tubers are easy to detach. They go in a collection basket while the herb is allowed on the compost.
In addition, the soil is carefully dug up, as there are often still a few tubers in it. If there is still damp soil clinging to it, it will be easier to remove it if left to dry for some time.
Potatoes that are ready for harvest can remain in the ground for a long time without being damaged. There is therefore no need to harvest all the tubers at once. It is only important that they are continuously covered by soil. Otherwise they form it toxic solanine, which is made clear by a green discoloration.
view the potato harvest
A bountiful crop of potatoes cannot be consumed all at once. Luckily, the late varieties of Solanum tuberosum store well, while the early varieties have to be consumed promptly. But before storage, a closer look at the potato yield is the order of the day:
- Fruits with green spots are removed
- Also discard brown-spotted potatoes
- Tubers up to 3 cm in size are ideal as seed potatoes for the following year
- separate damaged specimens for immediate consumption
Storage in winter quarters
Potato tubers can be stored in dark rooms all winter. Below are the other basics for an optimal storage environment:
- in a well-ventilated room
- Frost is undesirable, as it converts starch into sugar
- Heat, on the other hand, promotes germination
- A temperature of 4 °C to 8 °C is therefore ideal