Solanum tuberosum

Homegrown potatoes are quite easy to grow, as described beautifully by Travis County Master Gardener, Caroline Homer, blogger at The Shovel-Ready Garden. Here’s her full post on how she did it.

Last year she ordered Kennebec and Red Pontiac seed potatoes from a certified organic supplier in mid-January. She kept the potatoes in the dark until February 7, about a week before planting. She cut anything bigger than a goose egg in half, making sure there were eyes on each piece. Then, she dipped the cut ends in sulfur to prevent rot.

She put them on a tray indoors in a sunny spot to get the eyes to sprout. In mid-February, she planted them in a 4 x 8 raised bed, about eight to 10 inches apart and barely covered them with soil. When the potatoes sprouted leaves on stalks about six inches tall, she covered them with garden soil up to the very top leaves.

She covered with row cover during the freeze, but still got frost damage. Luckily, the plants sprouted new leaves. As the leaf stalks grew, she hilled them up with more soil until the bed was full to the top and watered deeply about once every week or so if rain didn’t come.

On May 7, she rummaged around and got new potatoes. The early red potatoes were much bigger than the mid-season Kennebec, so she left the Kennebecs alone for another month. As with other vegetables, plant potatoes in full sun and water regularly through the growing season. Be careful not to overwater, as the succulent tubers will rot.

Viewer Picture goes to Jason Lantz for his gorgeous Red Admiral butterfly on cilantro flowers. Remember this inspirational photo in late spring, when your cilantro has bolted, is looking pretty scary and might even be covered with aphids. Those flowers are very important for butterflies and other insect pollinators.