What you need to know to plant home grown white potatoes
Solanum tuberosum is the scientific name of the white potato and it is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The white potato is native to the Andean region of South America. In 1536, European explorers brought the potato to Europe. White potatoes were brought to America in 1719 when Irish immigrants came to the New World. Today, the Irish or white potatoes are grown throughout the world. White potatoes are popular in home gardens and are often grown in containers.
There are numerous varieties of white potatoes, including such popular and productive kinds as: Cobbler, Katahdin, Russet Burbank, Green Mountain, and Purple Majesty. Worldwide, there are more than 4,000 potato varieties. In the United States, only about 200 varieties are commercialized and, of these, each can be placed into one of seven potato type categories. The seven categories are russet, red, white, yellow, blue/ purple, fingerling and petite.
The edible part of the potato plant is the tuber, which develops underground on stolons from the plant’s main stem. Tubers store carbohydrates, protein, fats, and are about 78 percent water. Potato tubers vary in size and weight, depending on variety, growth period and other growth conditions. Tubers may weigh up to 2 to 3 pounds and measure 6 inches long.
Before planting, set the seed potatoes in a sunny warm (60 degrees-70 degrees F) place for a week or two to induce sprouting. Large tubers should be cut into 1.5-2 inch square pieces and each piece should have 1 or 2 sprouts. Allow cut pieces to dry for a day or two and form a callous over their cuts. Small tubers with a few sprouts may be planted whole.
The potato is an annual and a coolweather plant, and must be protected from frost. Potatoes need 3 to 4 months to mature. Plants grow best at temperatures between 60 degrees and 70 degrees F in well-aerated, sandy, loamy soil with a pH of 5.5 -6. 0. A pH above 6.0 may increase the common potato scab disease.
After the harm of frost is over, plant the sprouted pieces 3-4 inches deep and 10 inches apart in a 12-inch trench that is lined with compost. Potato rows should be 30 to 36 inches apart. Cover the potato pieces with 4 inches of soil. When the stems grow to about 8 inches, add 4 inches of soil. As the stem grows, continue to add 3-4 inches of soil around the stem to prevent the new potatoes from being exposed to sunlight. When new potatoes are exposed to sunlight as they are