Cultiver des pommes de terre en pleine terre

I urge you all to start growing potatoes in your garden or balcony, if you aren’t already. It’s a fun growth process to follow and in the end it’s like you are opening a surprise package. You never know what you will get. It’s also a proven fact that homegrown potatoes are much tastier than the store-bought ones and, if you are growing them like I do, they will be a bit healthier. Store bought potatoes are grown with the use of a lot of pesticides.

There is no real reason not to grow them. It even doesn’t matter if you have a lot of space or just a little. You can grow potatoes everywhere. I wrote about growing your potatoes in compost bags a few years ago. The result of that growth season were a few of these kind of potato plants. Amazing isn’t it?

Today I’ll show you how to grow potatoes in full soil. My explanation is not too technical, don’t worry. People can get very scientific about growing potatoes, but in my experience it’s not necessary to over complicate the process. There aren’t many things you have to worry about when growing potatoes, just make sure that:

  • you never grow potatoes in the same soil (same place) year after year
  • you use healthy soil with lots of nutrients
  • you don’t grow potatoes close to tomatoes if you live in a humid area (they carry the same awful disease)
  • you earth up the potatoes during the growth season

Other than that, it’s very easy. Somewhere mid or late March (depending on your region) you take a piece of land, make 10cm deep trenches in it. Then place some compost in the trenches, on top of that you place the potatoes about 30cm apart. Now plant the potatoes by making a little hole with a bulb planter (or make deeper trenches in the first place). You can now plant the potato in the hole. When they are all planted, you can cover the trenches with the soil you have put aside. Mark the varieties at the beginning of the rows.

Now let them grow and don’t forget to water them if you live in a dry area (like me). They will definitely show you when they need water. And then as soon as you see shoots coming out of the earth, it’s time to ‘earth up’. Earthing up is easy. You just place more earth on top of the new growth until it’s covered. You can also use thick layers of straw. Or both! You can do that twice or maybe three times during the growth cycle.

As soon as your potatoes get flowers or when they (the greens) turn brown, you can carefully dig them up. Never step on the planted rows, as your potatoes are growing in there. You can harvest everything at the same time. We always harvest per plant or per two plants if we have guests. We prefer to eat them freshly dug up. The early potatoes are a bit small then and the late ones quite big. Perfectly versatile for the kitchen.

Make sure that you always harvest the bad-looking plants first. If I don’t harvest the potatoes of a plant that looks sick immediately, I just cut the top part off (everything that grows above soil level) and throw it away. Never on the compost pile by the way. As I harvest the first potatoes in early June, I often plant new potatoes on the empty spots. Last year I planted a few crawling courges there. They grew vividly in between the remaining plants. You don’t have to leave the bed empty!

And the taste? The Rosabelle potatoes (pictured below) were beautiful, but not the most tasty one. I also grew Charlotte’s and some other varieties, they were really good. That was the lesson I learned last year: grow tasty varieties, not pretty ones.

What are your favourite varieties?