Potatoes are now excessively expensive for some families. Potato prices has increased with more than 40% over the last couple of months. For most South African homes, potatoes is part of staple feed in every day suppers. Farming potatoes is easy so Stop Buying Potatoes and Farm your own.
This opens a perfect opportunity for homesteaders and small scale farmers to start looking at potato farming. Potato’s are easy to grow and could be planted anywhere in South Africa and the best part is – you can even do it at your home as you do not require a lot of space planting for personal consumption. You can have 4 potatoes plants per square meter that can yield you around 40 to 60 potatoes. If you can spare around 5 square meters at your house you can harvest around 200 to 300 potatoes per cycle. That is a massive saving on your monthly food bill.
How much potatoes can you get from one plant
As a rule you can get around 10 to 15 potatoes from one single plant. Potatoes are an easy crop that can be grown all year round. The first crop is planted in August or September for digging up in December, and the second in January to be ready for eating through winter. The difficulty with potatoes is finding disease-free seed potatoes.
|Crop||Per person||For a family of 4|
|Potato||10 plants||40 plants|
How to start planting your own Potatoes?
Avoid buying potatoes that was cooled in stores. These types of potatoes will give bad yields or rot in your ground and will be turned into compost. A dry potato or even slightly older potatoes will be a good start for you and ensure a good rich harvest.
If possible try to get the daisy gold potato as it is an great all rounder and these type of potatoes is perfect with flaky and moist flesh that’s ideal for boiling, baking, and mashing.
However, if you have some potatoes that are beginning to sprout (the “eyes” have swollen, whitish shoots beginning to develop), simply plant a piece of the sprouting potato in the ground or in a roomy pot covered with 8 cm of soil. Within 2 weeks, green shoots should emerge
Cutting seed potatoes is not necessary to do before planting them. If you decide to cut your seed potatoes, cut them into pieces so that each piece has at least one eye (though more than one eye per piece is fine too) and is roughly at least 30 grams per piece.
Growing Potatoes in Your Yard
Choose a spot in your yard with lots of sun. Potatoes grow best with 8 hours of sunlight a day, but they don’t do well with too much heat. Pick a spot in your garden where the plants will be exposed to sunlight but not baking in the heat. They prefer summer temperatures of roughly 21 °C, but can handle slightly hotter temps, as long as they’re not exposed to direct sunlight for more than 6-8 hours a day. Plant in late spring for ideal conditions.
- Expert gardeners recommend planting potatoes around the time of last expected frost, but that time can vary based on where you live.
Buy seed potatoes from a garden supply store.
The best way to grow potatoes is from potatoes, but not just any potato will do: they have to be specially-grown seed potatoes from a garden supply store. Regular potatoes from a grocery store are often treated with pesticides which can spread disease through your whole crop, so either order your seeding potatoes from a catalog or hit the garden store.
- Seed potatoes come in every variation—russet, Yukon, fingerling, you name it. Your garden supply store will have options for you to choose from, and they can order you any type of potato they don’t already have in the store.
Allow sprouts to grow for 1 week before planting.
Unlike most grocery store potatoes, seed potatoes grow little protuberances called sprouts. These sprouts, once planted, form the buds of new potato plants—they are essential to the growing process! Place your seed potatoes in any warm, dry spot (a bowl on your kitchen counter where the sun shines will do) and leave them for a week.
- One week is ample time for your sprouts to grow between 0.64 cm and 1.3 cm in length. That means they’re almost ready to be planted.
Cut the potatoes into 5 cm sections.
Tiny potatoes are fine to be planted whole, but any spud larger than a golf ball should be cut into chunks about 5.1 cm wide, each with at least two sprouts. Usually just cutting the potatoes in half “hamburger-style” will do. Return the cut potatoes to the warm spot where they’ve been sitting for the past week, and leave them an additional 2-3 days before planting.
Prep the plant site with fertilizer.
Using a garden fork, rake compost into your chosen plant-site. Potatoes prefer loose, loamy soil, so work out any clumps until the dirt is airy and breathable. Make sure your fertilizer is covered by at least 2 inches of soil or it could damage your potato roots.
- If you don’t have compost, buy a balanced commercial fertilizer, superphosphate, or bonemeal, all available at the garden supply store.
- If you don’t have enough space (Like you are living in a flatlet) you can use buckets to plant potatoes.
Plant the potatoes in holes 30 cm apart
Place your halved potatoes cut-side down in 10 cm deep holes with the eye, or sprout, pointing up toward the sun. Cover with soil and water well.
- You should generally provide your potatoes with 2.5 to 5 cm of water per week, including rainfall. They prefer their soil moist, but not waterlogged
Hill the potatoes after five weeks.
To hill your potatoes, pile soil up around the stems to create a 1 foot (0.30 m) incline on either side. This will force new potatoes to grow above previously-planted ones. You can cover the entire plant with soil, or choose to leave the leaves exposed (this may be helpful later, as their changing color can signal the potatoes’ growth).
- Continue hilling about once a week: it will protect baby potatoes from being exposed to direct sunlight.
Harvest your potatoes after 70-100 days
Somewhere around five months after their plant-date, your potatoes will begin to show signs that they’ve matured. The leaves will turn yellow and the foliage will die back, meaning it’s almost time to harvest them. Leave them in the soil an additional 2-3 weeks, then dig them up with a pitchfork and gather them with your hands.
- Many species of potatoes will grow into tubers large enough to eat after 10 weeks, but leaving them in the ground longer will yield the largest crop.
Farming South Africa – Stop Buying Potatoes and Farm your own
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