Summer is almost here, which is the peak season for growing any kind of crop. If you’re looking for something versatile to add to your farm, you might be tempted to grow potatoes.
However, you may be wondering, “Is it worth growing potatoes on my farm?” In this guide, we will explore the pros and cons of trying to grow these popular tubers.
Reasons To Grow Potatoes on Your Farm
There are plenty of valid reasons on both sides for whether it’s worth your time to grow potatoes on your farm. Obviously, potatoes are delicious and versatile, so if you are growing them for personal use, they are certainly an enjoyable vegetable.
You can use potatoes in so many recipes that they are arguably one of the most useful kitchen ingredients out there. Whether you prefer your potatoes baked, boiled, mashed, fried, or chipped, there are countless ways to prepare them, so finding your preferences shouldn’t be too challenging. It’s also more convenient to have some spuds of your own rather than drive out to a supermarket to restock.
Additionally, if you have a preference for a certain flavor of potato, you can grow it on your own and have it whenever you want, rather than waiting for somebody else to grow it for you. Harvesting food you’ve grown yourself and putting it on your plate is one of the most satisfying feelings for a farmer. Furthermore, plenty of people enjoy eating potatoes, so if you’re trying to sell your crops at a farmer’s market, you shouldn’t have any trouble recouping your initial investment unless your batch goes bad.
Another reason to grow potatoes on your farm is because now is the perfect time to sow the seeds. Before we get into the heat of summer, the late spring months provide the perfect soil conditions for the crop because you don’t want to grow them during the heavy rain of spring either.
Growing potatoes isn’t too difficult. All you need to do is provide the right soil conditions, water them, and make sure they get adequate amounts of sunlight.
Even if your soil isn’t all that great, potatoes are a resilient plant that can improve your soil on its own. Many farmers sow spuds to improve soil conditions, so why shouldn’t you?
Reasons To Skip Growing Potatoes on Your Farm
There are numerous reasons to grow potatoes, but there are also legitimate reasons that justify skipping out on putting them on your farm. In terms of cost-effectiveness, it would be cheaper to buy potatoes from a store than grow them yourself because of the cost of farming equipment.
Also, buying them from a store is much quicker and less labor-intensive than creating a successful farming operation. Potatoes also take up more space than other vegetables on your farm, so if you’re working on a smaller property, there are other alternatives that are more economical in terms of space.
Next, there’s the issue of potato blight, which is when your tubers rot due to a devastating fungal disease. As you can imagine, having all your hard work go to waste due to potato blight is an extremely frustrating experience, but it’s an unfortunate reality for many farmers.
Another threat to your potatoes could be the Colorado potato beetle. No, this type of beetle doesn’t sing rock and roll songs; rather, it eats up all the leaves and branches of a potato bush, which destroys the plant.
There are ways to deter the beetle from decimating your plant, but it’s inefficient. Handpicking and destruction twice per day are the only ecological ways to defeat the Colorado potato beetle.
Otherwise, you will have to use fertilizers and pesticides to deter pests. Under ideal conditions, you should be able to store your potatoes for up to a year if you freeze them.
However, if you don’t store them correctly, potatoes will rot pretty quickly. All it takes is one rotten tuber to spoil the bunch, so make sure you keep a close eye on your crops if you plan to grow them.
Tips for Growing Potatoes as a Farmer
If you decide to proceed with growing potatoes on your farm, there are a few things you should know before you plant seeds into the ground. First, you can get a head start on the growing process by allowing your potatoes to sprout before planting them. You will see the sprouts come out of the potato’s eyes, so if you wait for the sprouts to grow between one-half and one whole inch, it will benefit your crops.
Another tip is to section your seeds into quarters to have a more abundant harvest. This will essentially multiply the number of potato seeds you can grow, which will allow you to have more crops to sell at the next farmer’s market. If you plan on quartering your seeds, be sure to stock up on potato packaging bags
to account for the increased inventory.
Did you know green potatoes are toxic? If you didn’t, make sure you toss them if you see them in your soil. You can prevent them from getting green by hilling your potatoes.
What this means is that when the potato vines reach about 6 to 8 inches out of the ground, add more soil to cover them so that only the top leaves are visible. Hilling helps your potatoes stay out of the sunlight, which causes them to turn green.
Having the right fertilizer is key to having strong plant roots. For potatoes, you will want to use a fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus, such as bone meal. Bone meal is an effective and natural fertilizer that will provide your tubers with plenty of nutrition.
Finally, adding some Epsom salt to your soil will increase the magnesium content of the soil. Magnesium helps your potato cells build sturdy walls to keep out bacteria.
Overall, whether you decide to grow potatoes or not depends on many parameters. After reading this guide, you shouldn’t be asking yourself, “Is it worth growing potatoes on your farm?” any time soon.