Growing Potatoes… but this isn’t Idaho!

No you don’t have to live in Idaho to grow some great potatoes! This spring we decided to try growing some more varieties of potatoes. We grew sweet potatoes last year, which turned out very well. We purchased the sweet potatoes as plants online from Burpee. Potatoes are more commonly sold as seed potatoes, which look like small potatoes. In the spring you can find seed potatoes at your local nursery or they can be purchased online. We purchased Yukon Gold seeds from Home Depot.

We are also attempting to grow plants from potatoes purchased at the grocery store. These were baking potatoes that sat out on our kitchen counter and sprouted. We cut each potato into 2 or 3 pieces, with each piece containing 2 or more eyes. You can also do this with purchased seed potatoes if you have a large seed with lots of eyes. Each seed should contain at least one eye to grow a plant, but 2-3 eyes per seed is best. Seeds should be planted 3 inches deep and 12 inches apart with the eyes pointed upward. In Arizona they should be planted in January or February. They will be ready to harvest in 60 to 90 days, depending on the variety. The best time to harvest is when the leaves turn yellow and the plant starts to wither. You can either dig up the entire plant and harvest all of the potatoes, or pull off a few at a time and leave the plant intact.

From our experience with growing sweet potatoes, we harvested about 4 to 5 potatoes per plant. Do not eat any green potatoes, potato sprouts, potato leaves or vines, as all are poisonous. Potatoes that are damaged from harvesting or very small potatoes should be eaten first. If you plan on storing your potatoes, they should be cured first. To do this, leave them in a cool, dark, dry place for about a week. After our sweet potato harvest, we preserved most of them by steaming then freezing them. Hopefully this potato crop will be as successful as last year’s!