If you plan on gardening during a long term SHTF event, the potato is one of your best friends. Not only are potatoes easy to grow, but they also store well, are easy to cook with, and any remaining potatoes at the end of the year can be replanted for next years crop.
Unlike a lot of crops that require special storage, such as canning and/or drying, just keep potatoes dry and in a cool dark place and they will store for close to a year.
Small potatoes can be eaten straight out of the ground. Larger ones can be baked, boiled, mashed, or made into a soup.
Potatoes grow well in loose soil free from rocks, sticks, tree roots and other obstructions. Work the soil with a tiller, plow, disk,,, something that will break the soil up. Make the rows, add fertilizer, I like to mix the fertilizer into the soil using a tiller, then plant the seed potatoes. Plant the seed potatoes about 3 inches deep and about 12 – 18 inches apart.
Use a fertilizer such as 10-20-10, or 13-13-13. Do not use a nitrogen rich fertilizer such as 21-0-0 or 16-6-12. Nitrogen rich fertilizers will cause the potato plant to be large, but will grow few tubers. Potatoes need phosphorus to grow the tubers and some nitrogen to grow the tops.
Natural sources of phosphorus include:
- Cottonseed meal
When I first plant my potatoes I do not make mounds, that comes later. I use a tiller to break up the soil, fertilize with something like 13-13-13, work the fertilizer in with the tiller.
Use a hoe to make a small hole about 3 inches deep. Drop the seed potato into the hole with the eye up. The cover with loose soil.
When the sprout breaks the top of the soil and gets a few inches tall, I will side dress with something like bonemeal and/or 10-20-10 and pull dirt up to the sprout.
I only add extra fertilizer that one time.
After a few times of pulling dirt up around the top of the plant there will be nice rows in place.
When the potatoes start growing you may need to pull dirt over them as the rain washes it away.
We will get into taking care of your potato plants in future articles.
Potatoes are one of my favorite crops
I like to grow several different types of crops. Some of those include grape tomatoes, squash, okra and of course potatoes. But out of everything I like to grow, potatoes are at the top of the list.
There is something about working the soil, adding fertilizer, planting the seed potatoes, tending the plants, and then a few months later reaping the harvest. Pulling the plant and digging in the dirt is like being a kid again.