Learn how to grow potatoes in Texas with me. This year (2023) will be my first to plant potatoes and I am so excited. I have ordered at least six varieties of seed potatoes to plant from two suppliers. We have plenty of space out here on the farm for all of them. I have also ordered some sweet potato seed potatoes but they won't arrive until May.
I love potatoes and have wanted to grow them for years. Hopefully, we have a much more moderate climate this year, cooler with more rain so my first year of growing them will be successful.
I will report on how it goes from receiving my seed potatoes to planting them to the harvest. I understand that it is best to grow potatoes in Texas in the fall but there are no seed potatoes to plant in the fall. Some have told me to use potatoes from the grocery store but I have not yet tried that. So I will give planting them now in winter a go but not for a few more weeks.
My first shipment of seed potatoes is due to arrive tomorrow, January 20, 2023. I am not even sure which variety or how many will be included. I ordered Purple Majesty, German Butterball, Viking, and Yukon Gold.
My first shipment arrived and it was all four varieties that I ordered from Hoss Tools. I was very excited. I pulled four heavy bags out of the box and opened all of them. They are lying on my kitchen island soaking up sun so the eyes can grow before we plant them. Once that is done, I have to cut the potatoes apart, leaving one to two eyes on each potato piece. Then they need to "heal" from being cut. In a day or two they can be planted outside.
I also have some potatoes growing eyes in my pantry from the grocery store. I will include those as well in my plantings since this is a big experiment.
As I write this on January 23, 2023, it is cold and 38° outside. A trench has not yet been dug and my seed potatoes still do not have much in the way of eyes.
Again, I have never grown potatoes in Texas or anywhere so I am doing a lot of research to make sure I get it right. I love potatoes. I feel like they are the perfect food. You can cook them in so many ways and they taste incredible.
When you plant seed potatoes, the ground should be 50° and it should be about three weeks before the final spring frost. In my area of South Central Texas, we should get our final frost around March 3 for 2023. That means that I am clear to plant my potatoes on February 9. Today is January 23 so that gives me less than three weeks to prepare the potatoes for planting. Right now, the eyes are very tiny so they need to grow as big as possible.
The best way to grow the eyes or sprouts, which is called chitting, is to lay them out on paper without the potatoes touching until the sprouts are about one inch long. Handle them very carefully so the sprouts don't break off. They will break off very easily.
A few days before planting, you will need to cut your seed potatoes, leaving at least one eye aka chit on each piece. Unfortunately, most of the chitting is done in one area of most of the potatoes, making it hard to cut them up. Today, March 1, 2023, I cut all of my seed potatoes up. It was really difficult knowing how and where to cut some.
Now for one or two days, the potatoes need to heal where they have been cut before putting them in the ground. The cut parts will harden a bit so they don't rot in the ground or attract animals and bugs to come and eat them.
Below are all of my cut potatoes from this morning.
The next day, about 24 hours later, the potatoes have sort of shrunk and dried out where they were cut. They will be planted today, Thursday, March 2, 2023. Below is what they look like now.
sunny spot, and our entire property is in a sunny spot, we dug a
trench six to eight inches deep by six to eight inches wide. The seed
potatoes should be placed ten inches apart. Cover them with dirt. Keep in mind that the place you to choose to grow potatoes in Texas should get about six hours of sun per day.
The potato sprouts are chitting. I can see little chits forming all over the potatoes. It is pretty exciting!
I hope the trench gets dug soon. I don't have time to do it because I am always in the store waiting on customers. Our regular outdoor guy quit before he got to dig it a few weeks ago. Since then, we have been having septic issues so that whole mess had to get dug. They are fixing it up now. Maybe they will have time to dig the trench tomorrow. I sure hope so. By the time I get to garden each day, there is so little time and this will be a massive trench because I bought a lot of seed potatoes. We are short-handed here at David's Garden Seeds® and this is our busy time of year.
Today, March 2, 2023, we are planting the seed potatoes. David is letting Crystal help me so I am not out there all day long. I took seven bowls of seed potato pieces outside this morning around 9:20am. I started planting, sprout or chit side up, with the Majestic Purple. Then I called Crystal over to help. She is fast. By 10:30am, we had them all in the ground and covered with a few inches of sand. We still have quite a bit of the trench empty and we planted over 350 pieces. Thank God she helped me because I am sore all over!
Below are a few of the photos I took this morning while we planted. Even though I hurt all over, I am very excited about planting. Hopefully, it will help me get in shape as well.
a few weeks, the sprouts will be out of the soil and should again be
covered with soil. This should happen several times before you just let
them grow above the dirt so you will be "hilling" the potatoes.
One pound of seed potatoes will grow five pounds of potatoes. Who knew? Hmmmm. Doing some math...I bought 20 pounds of seed potatoes and David has more coming. So I should get at least 100 pounds of potatoes if I grow them right.
between 90 and 120 days, the green leaves will turn yellow and die.
Then it is time to harvest the potatoes. Gently dig the potatoes up,
being careful not to cut into them with the shovel. Store them in a
cool, dry place.
This past Sunday, March 12, 2023, two weeks after we planted my potatoes, I decided to go out to the potato trench and low and behold, there were a ton of potato leaves coming up out of the ground. This was about 5pm and it was 90° so I did not do anything but take photos.
The next day, I put a few inches of sand over the whole trench, except for the part of the tunnel that was not planted. I think I will use that part for my sweet potato slips that should arrive in May. (Why they wait so long to send them to Texas is beyond me.)
This morning, the entire trench was filled with beautiful potato plants that needed to be buried again in the sand. I was supposed to do it days ago, but the rain and sprinkles kept coming. This morning, there were none so I got out there with a hoe and got them all buried again.
The potato plants are doing beautifully! They are hilled and are growing strong and healthy. I am so excited about them.
Some of my potatoes got some bugs on them. One of our guys sprayed some of the plants and they dried up and died. Some of the sprayed plants still have wilted leaves. Many of them did not get sprayed at all and are fine.
I planted my sweet potato vines this morning in the same row with my potatoes. The potatoes look vibrant (except for the dead ones that we left out there) while my sweet potato vines look pretty dead...
The potato plants that are still living are mostly still green and doing well. In exactly one month, they should either be pulled up or about ready to be pulled up, depending on how yellow they are, but July 2, 2023 will be the 120 day mark.
Your potatoes should be in the ground for between 90 and 120 days. The plants will turn yellow when the potatoes are ready to harvest. Once this happens, stop watering them for one to two weeks. This will give the peels a chance to grow a bit thicker so the potatoes can be stored for a longer time.
Once that is done, dig up a plant of them. Rub the skins. If the skin easily comes off of your potato with your finger, the potatoes are considered "new" and can be eaten without peeling. You won't be able to store them for long at all. Go ahead and pull up the ones you dug up but leave the rest in the ground without watering for another week or two. Then, the skins should be good.
Dig them up gently with a garden fork. Each plant will have multiple potatoes in the ground so you need to be careful and make sure to get them all. So the best way is to lift up the soil at the outside edge of where the potatoes should be so you don't stab the actual potatoes. You don't want to damage the potatoes or they can rot or become bacterially infected. If you do stab potatoes, they will be that night's dinner. In other words, use them right away. Do not attempt to store them.
If you want, you can lay some of the potatoes you dug up flat on newspaper, not allowing them to touch, to save them for fall seed potatoes. Yes, fall is the perfect time to grow potatoes in Texas, but there are never any seed potatoes to plant for sale then here in Texas or just about anywhere. Be smart and save some of your best potatoes as seed potatoes for fall.
For a fall crop of potatoes, you should plant the seed potatoes approximately 110 days before the first frost of the fall/winter season. My zip code is 78065 and when I go to almanac.com to look up my frost dates, it tells me March 3 and November 22 are my last and first frost dates for the year 2023. These dates can change each year.
So count backwards from the spring frost date by three weeks to get your spring planting date which we covered above. November 22, 2023 is the first approximate frost date this year so I will need to count back 110 days to know when to plant my fall potatoes. So 110 days before November 22 is August 4 so I need to plant my seed potatoes for fall on or about August 4, 2023 so I can harvest them by the frost date.
The first and last frost dates will be different for each area and the dates will change each year so every year you need to determine what Almanac is saying these dates are. Just put your zip code in at the above Almanac link and it gives you the first and last frost dates.
So we had them all dug up by the end of June but because a bunch were sprayed while the plants were young due to a bug infestation, they died. We did not get half as many as I thought we would.
Once you dig up your potatoes, you will need to wipe off as much dirt as possible. Do not wash them until you are ready to cook them. Store the potatoes you plan to eat in a cool, dry place. They should cure for about two weeks in cool storage with a temperature between 45° and 60° Fahrenheit, laid out flat. They should keep well for up to six months.
The fall in Texas is the perfect time of year to grow potatoes in Texas. However, no one sells seed potatoes in August or in the fall, only in the spring. I kept some potatoes that I harvested in June and I kept some grocery store potatoes. They have been on dish towels on my kitchen island growing chits for weeks.
For several weeks now, I have had some potatoes growing chits on my island. Today, I cut them into pieces with at least one chit on each piece. Some of the potatoes had one big frilly chit on them so I took them outside by my greenhouse and planted them in pots. I would like to say that it hit 108° and even though I watered them well, I don't know if they will take off growing because there is no end to this three digit temperature garbage. Oh how I hate the extreme heat.
Tomorrow, I plan to plant the potatoes with chits, if I can find the time. I am tired of looking at them sitting on my island just like this past spring.
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