Spring plantings

Cottonwood District Master Gardeners press release
Master Gardener

You might not have a pot of gold, but you can enjoy a pot of delicious potatoes this summer if you plant your potatoes in March. This week is St. Patrick’s Day and a traditional time when many gardeners plant their potatoes. Any time from mid-March to late-March is a great time for planting.

To plant potatoes you won’t want to use those you buy from the grocery store for cooking. Instead you’ll want to purchase seed potatoes from a greenhouse or garden center. Seed potatoes are certified disease free and have plenty of starch to help them sprout quickly. Three or four days before planting you will want to cut your potatoes. The reason for this process is to toughen up and form a protective coating so the seed potato doesn’t rot when placed in the ground. Most seed potatoes can be cut into four pieces, and the goal is to have one or more eye sprouts in each piece.

Next dig holes about 1 to 2 inches deep and place each potato piece flat side or cut side face down. Leave between 8 to 12 inches apart in rows. Then space rows about 3 feet apart. It will often be mid-to-late April before you see the plants poking their way through the soil. To encourage large yields and to prevent sunburning, pull the soil up

to the base of the plants. Potatoes need regular watering especially when they are 6-12 inches tall. Harvest potatoes when vines are half dead. Typically within ten to fifteen weeks you enjoy some great tasting potatoes. To enjoy a fall harvest, plant another batch of seed potatoes in early to mid-July.

Now’s also a great time to plant lettuce, radishes, peas, spinach, broccoli, and cabbage from seed. Onion sets should also be planted now. Onion sets are typically planted 1 to 1 and half inches deep about 2 to 4 inches apart with rows 15 inches apart. All these vegetables like cooler temperatures and should be planted now for optimum enjoyment.

Master Gardeners of Ellis County, Cottonwood District. More information available at www. cottonwood.ksu.edu or visit Facebook at Ellis County Extension Master Gardeners.