Now that I've tried growing sweet potatoes, I'm ready to move on to the "other" potato. Potatoes provide more calories per square inch than any other crop, which is just one good reason to grow them. The other reason, is that I'd like to try to avoid the green tint that seems to plague most potatoes I buy at the grocery store. According to the County Cooperative Extension planting guide, you can plant potatoes NOW!
I put a call into Ronnigers Potato Seed Farm, and I asked them if they had any advice on growing potatoes in the Phoenix area, here's what they had to say:
There are several general guidelines to follow when choosing a potato variety for your climate. Potatoes need the soil temp to be at least 50 degrees or warmer in order to start sprouting and grow. Therefore, the earliest that we recommend you plant seed potatoes is two weeks before your last spring frost. Living in an area where it gets really warm, your goal is to harvest before the temps get into the mid 90’s or hotter. Often, what happens is the soil becomes too warm for the plant to produce tubers or put size on the existing tubers. If you have a spring month that is more rainy than another, you may want to again tailor your planting schedule. Freshly planted seed potatoes are susceptible to rotting in the ground if they receive a lot of moisture before emergence. Once the potato plant has emerged, consistent watering habits are needed. Potatoes like evenly moist soil and never really like to completely dry out. One pound of seed potatoes will plant approximately 10 row feet if you space the seed pieces one foot apart. One pound of fingerlings will plant approximately 15 row feet if you space the seed pieces one foot apart. When we plant, we do 36 inch wide rows with 12 inch centers. Potatoes need room to spread out and grow! The worst mistake that gardeners make is crowding. So, in your 4x8 bed, 2-3 pounds would be plenty. The seed potatoes that are the size of a golf ball or an egg, plant whole. Some of the other potatoes you will need to cut as long as you leave two eyes per piece. Planting depth, 3 inches.
These are the varieties that they recommened for this area.
Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac, Viking Red, Rio Colorado, Red LaSoda, Kipfel Fingerling, Ozette Fingerling and Purple Peruvian Fingerlings are all more heat tolerant. ( The Yukon and the Red Pontiac are early season. The rest are mid to late)Desiree and Nicola are a good choice for heavier clay type soils.
Just starting out, you may want to just stick with potatoes in the early season, that way you won’t have to worry about the heat factor and you’ll get a feel for growing potatoes.
I'll try the Purple fingerlings and Red Pontiac as my first choice as a potato farmer. I'm starting out small and using a potato "grow bag" because I'm completely out of garden space for the season.
If there are any gardeners that have had any experience growing potatoes, I'd love to hear from you!
My husband and I have been gardening for many years, not so much for the food security, but for the beauty, satisfaction, and peace that gardening and growing things bring you. We started small, a couple of tomatoes, a few zucchini, and lots of flowers. It didn't really matter how much we harvested. We really didn't eat from our garden. We didn't know how. The lettuce was always a little bitter . The tomatoes always had holes in them and there was a Safeway just down the street. The important thing was that we were having fun. We loved working together with our children beside us. There is something comforting about watching your kids play in the dirt or happily run down the brick paths with nowhere to go. Our garden was the center of the earth ,we were firmly planted there and that was all that mattered. A couple of years ago, something important started to take place. A shift began to take shape, not only to us , but to our communities. The meaning of food began to change. Where the food came from, what was in it and how it nourishes us. Perhaps the connection between what we eat and how we feel finally began to set in. For us, it was time to get serious. It was time to eat from our garden.
" I am a mad gardener. I mutter and rant, and at night I shake dry seeds out of my unruly mane of hair. The garden is in my bones, in my gut, and in my hands. "
Wendy Johnson , Gardening at the Dragons Gate
Inch by inch, row by row Gonna make this garden grow Gonna mulch it deep and low Gonna make it furtile ground
Inch by inch, row by row Please bless these seeds I sow Please keep them safe below 'Till the rain comes tumbling down
Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones We are made of dreams and bones Need a place to call my own 'Cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain Find my way in nature's chain Tune my body and my brain To the music of the land
Plant your rows straight and long Season them with prayer and song Mother Earth will make you strong If you give her love and care An old crow watches hungrily from his perch on younder tree In my garden I'm as free as that feathered bird up there