Growing potatoes is childs play providing each would-be farmer follows a few simple rules.
The main thing to remember, which many novices forget, is that the potato crop will GROW ABOVE THE SEED POTATO that has been planted. So if you plant a potato under just 6 inches of earth, your crop will be very small unless you continue to place soil over the foliage.
Earthing-up is the term given to covering over the leaves of the potato plant once it has begun to grow. Once the potato plant has grown to about 10" ( 25cm ) above the top of the soil, cover it over with more soil.
Once the potato plant grows another 10 inches or so out of the ground, cover it over again. Then again and again. Covering over the foliage of potato plants is usually done about 4 times for each potato plant. That is if you are growing the potatoes in tyres.
Start At The Very Beginning
Get a potato, or for certain vernaculars, a spud. Seeded potatoes are usually used by professionals and semi-professionals alike.
This is because when growing your own potatoes, the seeded type are usually disease free with a slightly higher capacity for producing a larger harvest.
For the rest of us, the children, and the occasional idiot, a normal potato from the kitchen should suffice. You don't even need to clean it.
Take a spud out of the bag which has just come out of the supermarket. Stick it in a cupboard or drawer, and leave it alone for about a month.
The cupboard should be as dark as possible and dry. There are places like this all over the house. Some people even find the odd bag of spuds loitering around in old vegetable racks or drawers.
If you do not have a potato handy, look under the kitchen units, there is usually one under there sprouting the odd root.
The potato needs to grow a few roots before it is planted in a loose type of soil. The darkness of the drawer or cupboard will assist in helping to grow the roots.
Check on the potato or potatoes every few days and when the roots are a few inches long, it will be time to plant them in soil.
During this stage in growing your own potatoes, please do not water them, even if the skin becomes wrinkly. Just remember, the potato at this stage is just like Grandma, old, wrinkly with whiskers, and doesn't drink water.
Planting Your First Spud
Growing potatoes in tires.
Prepare the tires by taking them off the car and rolling them around to the garden.
Simply find an ideal location to begin growing your first harvest. The spot should receive as much sunlight as possible, not be drenched constantly, and should not contain many large rocks.
Place a weed suppressant on the floor or even just a bit of cardboard from an old box. Place your first tire over the cardboard. Fill with soil or compost. which would be better for the mother potato of your harvest.
Give the soil a lavish drink of water, literally let all the soil become at least damp. Now using your hand, make a hole in the center of the soil big enough to let your potato rest in peace and still be covered over.
For a larger harvest in larger tyres, place 4 potatoes around the inside of the tyre, and then cover with soil.
Cover the potato with about 4 - 6" of soil, pat down lightly, and stand back and applaud yourself on a job well done.
Now, simply water every couple of days ensuring the soil is constantly damp and then get excited when you see the first bit of green shoot emerging a few weeks later.
With a good sized flower pot, potatoes can even be grown in a bedroom or any other room in the home with natural sunlight.
Notes & Warning
Normal car tyres are not generally large enough to produce a huge crop of grow your own potatoes, but now tractor tires, they would be fantastic.
Manufacturing methods of producing tyres may present a minimal health risk whilst using this method to produce your own food. It may be prudent to first cover the tyre with a polythene sheet or bin bag.
Potatoes like water, ensure soil or compost is always kept moist. Grass cuttings and tea bags or leaves could also be used within the soil.
Tire Number 2, 3, 4 & 5
Once there is an approximate 10" foliage growing out of the tyre, it is time to place on top the second tyre.
Very simply, put tire number 2, directly on top of the first tyre, then completely fill with soil or compost covering over the green leaves, then water.
Repeat this until there are 4 or 5 tires in a vertical Leaning Tower of Pizza shape. It does not have to be exact, it's not rocket science, and the potatoes are not really to bothered about perfection.
Growing potatoes in tires is an excellent way of saving on garden space. Depending on the size of the tires used, two or three 'seed' potatoes could be used to help produce masses of the vegetable.
Special Potato Grow Tubs
These specially produced potato sacks are not exactly Eco-friendly, but save on messing about with having lots of old tyres laying around the garden throughout the winter months.
Many local garden suppliers or garden stores do not sell them, but the odd one will order them in for clients.
Potato Growing Sack
NB. This picture indicates that the potatoes will come out of these sacks clean. They don't. They will come out as dirty as a pig rolling around in the mud, but that's just part of the fun.
Harvesting The Potato Mountain
Simples... simply remove the top tyre when the potatoes are ready to harvest and you need some for the chip pan.
Remove the whole top tyre with the potatoes in it, remove the spuds, put the soil back in the garden, and put the tire on top of the garage roof ready for next year.
Potato Growing In Tyres / Tires
Best Dates To Plant Potatoes
Potatoes are very hardy, they can put up with the elements to a certain degree. Frost could kill them, so sowing in winter would really be a waste of time, but it can be done.
Best sowing dates would be around April - June. Spuds need approximately 16 weeks in the soil to produce a good crop. But can be harvested early for new potatoes, ( that's very small spuds to certain individuals )
Late crops could be planted in July / August but the harvest would be smaller but still tasty enough.
With the right conditions, there is no reason why potatoes could not be planted all year round.
NB: In Africa, a potato harvest can be kept all year round after harvesting, and still be fresh enough to eat. Yet within 1 week of buying our potatoes from the supermarket, they begin to root and become wrinkly. WHY?
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William Nyoni on July 04, 2018:
Quiet funny and interesting methods of producing potatoes. I can't wait to get started.
Patricia Myres on February 26, 2017:
Thank you for the tutorial, simple, funny and easy.
Robyn on September 28, 2016:
Straight funny talk for a Aussie Lady
Val @ Love My DIY Home on March 25, 2016:
I'm so glad I found you! Your information is great and now I can't wait to plant some carrots and taters! Both tutorials were funny and informative. Thanks.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 09, 2013:
This is very interesting. For years I have saved sprouted potatoes and planted them; but not deep. I don't get any big harvest or potatoes but I can have new potatoes all summer!