“Plant in a bucket, so with less toil,
You can easily harvest, these sons of the soil”
Potatoes are rooting veggies that are fun to grow. Choose the right season and amaze yourself, your friends and your family with the bountiful yield this easy grower will provide!
SEASONS: The potato plant is a seasonal crop. It needs cool weather, and temperatures between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius, to grow properly. For that reason, aim to sow and grow during the Mumbai winters only.
PROPAGATING: This plant is easy to propagate by stem cuttings or rooting tuber.
GROWING FROM STEM/TUBER: Stem cuttings are taken of a growing plant by snipping off a non-flowering stem, stripping off its leaves, and planting immediately in moist soil. To propagate by tuber, take a potato in which “eyes” or roots have formed, and cut into segments with 1-2 eyes each. Dry off the segments thoroughly until a thin layer is formed around the sliced surfaces. The dryness and thin layer will protect it from insect damage once planted.
PLANTING OUT: Plant potato stem cuttings or segments in extremely well-drained, medium-composted, highly acidic soil. High acidity reduces the risk of most of the diseases that this plant is prone to. Ensure that you choose a very sunny spot, but one that is not too hot (thus the strong recommendation that you grow it during our winters only). Water your planted cuttings/segments regularly until they sprout stems and leaves successfully. Potato plants will take up a lot of garden space, vertically and horizontally. Therefore it’s a good idea to plan for this and plant them in drums/buckets where they get plenty of vertical space, but their horizontal growth is kept in check. Plant stem cuttings or tuber segments about 3 inches apart in a very deep containers that have space for filling in more soil at the top, as you go along.
NURTURING: Potato plants will grow rapidly in the first 3 months with regular watering and sunlight. Always water its roots, and never its leaves, to prevent leaf-borne diseases and leaf rot. Ensure that water drains off and that your plant is never water-logged. Also avoid trimming its stems as they direct water towards growing tubers. Flowering stems are a sign that tubers are forming below the soil. As the plant grows and flowers, and tubers keep growing below, keep adding more layers of soil, a process called “hilling”, so more tubers can grow out from the bottom of the exposed stem and into full-size potatoes. You may need to do this 3-4 times during peak growing season. Potatoes are prone to several diseases including blight, rot, stunted growth and leaf-borne diseases, many of which cause irreparable damage. For that reason, prevention is a better remedy, and growing potatoes in the right season in a well-drained, acidic soil medium, will go far towards a successful harvest.
HARVESTING: Please note that potato leaves and stems are highly toxic and cannot be harvested for human/animal consumption. The plant is harvested only for its roots, which will be ready from 2.5 months of growth until full maturity at 4.5 months. Mature plants will indicate their harvest-readiness by the yellowing of their leaves, and bulging of the soil level. Once this happens, stop watering for about 2 weeks for proper potato root formation, and then get ready to harvest. Upturn the container entirely or use a broad shovel to excavate the plant entirely. Potatoes would have grown in every possible corner of your container, and will be a beautiful sight to behold! After harvesting the plant for potato root, compost the plant, replenish the soil, and use it for planting fruiting or leafing veggies next.
A full-grown, flowering potato plant, and a potato harvest
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