How to GrowEarth Apples Seed Potatoes

  • Shovel
  • Garden hoe
  • EarthApples seed potatoes
  • Fertilizer
  • Watering can or hose
  • Garden gloves (Optional)

Container Planting

  • Deep container (grow bag, wooden box, stacked tires, plant pot)
  • General purpose potting soil

Dig Deeper

Growing EarthApples in confined spaces is an excellent method to produce your own crop of fresh potatoes. This guide will help you make the most of your limited space. Planting in containers is an easy way to grow fresh potatoes.


Equipment Checklist

small-spaces-and-balconies

  • EarthApples seed potatoes
  • Deep container (grow bag, wooden box, plant pot)
  • General purpose potting soil
  • Fertilizer/nutrients
  • Watering can or hose
  • Garden gloves (optional)
  1. Chitting the seed potatoes. Chitting, also known as green-sprouting, is the process of forming sprouts on seed potatoes using light. The light helps to break the natural dormancy of the potato and produces hard green sprouts on the tubers. This gives your EarthApples a boost at planting time so they will emerge out of the ground much faster. Lay the seed potatoes in a window sill and leave them there for about 2-4 weeks to allow the light to form green sprouts on the potatoes. The greening colour of the seed potatoes that will occur during this process does not hinder the quality of the seed potato. When you are ready to plant, follow the planting instructions as directed and see the difference that this process can make.
  2. Soil Preparation in Container. Choose a suitable container and make sure that it contains drainage holes in the bottom (Potatoes thrive in soils that drain properly and dislike being overly wet). Fill the container about half full with general purpose potting soil or medium. Add some vegetable fertilizer or compost and mix it well through the soil. Please follow the instructions on the fertilizer label to determine the exact amount of fertilizer required. Also note that some potting soils already have a fertilizer charge mixed in therefore you do not need to add any.
  3. Planting the EarthApples tubers. The size of container will ultimately determine how many tubers to plant in each container. Refer to the varieties specific spacing recommendations as a guide. Place the whole – un-cut – seed potatoes on the soil with the larger sprouts facing up. Cover the seed potatoes with 2-3 inches of potting soil and pack lightly. (Do not cover the potatoes with excess soil at this stage as this will only delay plant emergence.) Place the container in an area where it will receive adequate sunlight.
  4. Watering. Give the potatoes a soaking of water and ensure that the soil is moist. Check occasionally and water as needed but do not over water! Over-watered heavy wet soil can cause the seed potato to rot which is especially risky with newly planted potatoes in cold soil.
  5. Hilling the Potatoes.  When the plants have grown between 4-6 inches tall add another 3-4 inches of soil around the plants. Lightly brush away any soil around the leaves to keep them exposed to the sunlight. As the plants continue to grow you should add soil periodically until you have reached the top of the container.
  6. Regular Inspection and Watering. Check periodically for insects and diseases that may creep into your crop and follow the steps outlined on the Insects and Disease page if you run into a problem. Keep the potato plants well hydrated in the hot summer and try to water in the evenings to minimize evaporation. Some varieties are more drought tolerant than others but as a general rule of thumb keep the potato plants watered and happy!
  7. Harvest Time. Generally speaking, early varieties will be ready for harvest around early august with mid-season varieties ready at the beginning of September. If the plants are still green try to do a test dig in the dirt to unearth a few new tubers. This will give you a good indication if you should let them grow a bit more or if the size of the potatoes is to your preference. At the end of the growing season plants will naturally start to ripen and turn light green and yellow indicating they are ready for harvest. For storage potatoes, let the potatoes sit in the soil undisturbed without watering them for about 2 weeks. This allows the skin on the potatoes to set which reduces skinning and prolongs the storage life of your potatoes.
  8. Storage. After you’ve had your fill of EarthApples and made some delicious recipes with them, its time to store some for later. To prolong the EarthApples storage life avoid washing any of the potatoes that you will not be consuming immediately. Store the potatoes in a cool dark place preferably around 5-6 degrees Celsius. It is important that the potatoes are well ventilated, so do not store them in sealed plastic containers or bags. Do not place the potatoes in the fridge as this will convert the natural starches of the potato to sugars – which makes them unfavourably sweet.

Growing your EarthApples in a garden is easy and this step by step guide will help you to get the absolute best results for your EarthApples. When the weather is favourable in your area about mid spring, and after the risk of night frost has passed, it’s time to start planting and put these gems to work!
garden-planting

Equipment Checklist

  • EarthApples seed potatoes
  • Shovel
  • Garden hoe
  • Fertilizer/nutrients
  • Watering can or hose
  • Garden gloves (optional)
  1. Chitting the seed potatoes. Chitting, also known as green-sprouting, is the process of forming sprouts on seed potatoes using light. The light helps to break the natural dormancy of the potato and produces hard green sprouts on the tubers. This gives your EarthApples a boost at planting time so they will emerge out of the ground much faster. Lay the seed potatoes in a window sill and leave them there for about 2-4 weeks to allow the light to form green sprouts on the potatoes. The greening colour of the seed potatoes that will occur during this process does not hinder the quality of the seed potato. When you are ready to plant, follow the planting instructions as directed and see the difference that this process can make.
  2. Soil Preparation. Work the soil with a garden hoe to remove any lumps and weeds and loosen the soil. Work deep into the ground as this will help with drainage and makes it easier for the potatoes to grow. Add some vegetable fertilizer or compost and mix it well through the patch of soil you will be planting in. Please follow the instructions on the fertilizer label to determine the exact amount required.
  3. Planting the EarthApples tubers. Dig a trench about 4 inches deep in he soil. Take your EarthApples and lay them in the trench with the larger sprouts facing upwards. Refer to the varieties specific spacing recommendations as a guide. Cover the seed potatoes with about 2-3 inches of soil. Do not cover the potatoes with excess soil at this stage as this will only delay plant emergence.
  4. Watering. Give the potatoes a soaking of water and ensure that the soil is moist. Check regularly and continue watering as neededOver watering will lead to the rotting of the tuber, which is especially risky if the soil is cold.
  5. Hilling the Potatoes. When the plants have grown between 4-6 inches tall add another 3-4 inches of soil around the plants. Lightly brush away any soil around the leaves to keep them exposed to the sunlight. As the plants continue to grow you may add soil to cover any newly exposed potatoes.
  6. Regular Inspection and Watering. Check periodically for insects and diseases that may creep into your crop and follow the steps outlined on the Insects and Disease page if you run into a problem. Keep the potatoes well hydrated in the hot summer and try to water in the evenings to minimize evaporation. Some varieties are more drought tolerant than others but as a general rule of thumb keep the potato plants watered and happy!
  7. Harvest Time. Generally speaking, early varieties will be ready for harvest around early august with mid-season varieties ready at the beginning of September. If the plants are still green try to do a test dig in the soil to unearth a few new tubers. This will give you a good indication if you should let them grow a bit more or if the size of the potatoes is to your preference. At the end of the growing season plants will naturally start to ripen and turn light green and yellow indicating they are ready for harvest. For storage potatoes, let the potatoes sit in the soil undisturbed without watering them for about a week. This allows the skin on the potatoes to set which reduces skinning and prolongs the storage life of your potatoes.
  8. Storage. After you’ve had your fill of EarthApples and made some delicious recipes with them, its time to store some for later. To prolong the EarthApples storage life avoid washing any of the potatoes that you will not be consuming immediately. Store the potatoes in a cool dark place preferably around 5-6 degrees Celsius. It is important that the potatoes are well ventilated, so do not store them in sealed plastic containers or bags. Do not place the potatoes in the fridge as this will convert the natural starches of the potato to sugars – which makes them unfavourably sweet.

growing-organicThere is nothing more satisfying than growing your own organic produce. Knowing that you have prepared a meal of your very own nutritious organically grown potatoes is a very assuring feeling. EarthApples have been specifically selected to perform well under organic conditions. Here are some tips to increase your success for a healthy crop of  organic EarthApples.

  1. Start with certified seed potatoes. This is probably the single most important thing you can do to set up your crop for success. Your EarthApples seed potatoes have been grown and inspected on high generation seed potato farms adhering to the strictest certification standards as set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). It is imperative that you start every planting season with fresh, clean, certified seed potatoes to give yourself the best chance of success.
  2. Planting whole tuber potatoes. We strongly believe that a seed potato does not need to be cut in order to produce a great crop. Every time a potato is cut it creates a wound that can get infected or rot away if not dealt with properly. Therefore chemical treatments are often applied to the cut pieces as a prevention and this is exactly what you want to avoid when growing organic. Cutting is an extra step that can easily lead to unnecessary problems. We believe in a wholesome, natural approach by advocating whole tuber planting. Note: All EarthApples varieties are grown and multiplied at our farms using a whole tuber planting method.
  3. Use clean soil for planting. Whether planting in the garden, growing bag, or planting pot, it is important to use proper well aerated soil. In a garden you should rotate your potato crop to a different part of the garden every year. Potatoes are a demanding crop for the soil and rotating frequently prevents soil nutrient depletion. For garden planting this practice also helps to reduce the risk of nematodes and wireworms building up over time and adversely affecting your future crops. For container crowing it is recommended to start with fresh potting soil every year. An all purpose vegetable growing medium works great. Some of the soils even have fertilizers mixed into them which gives the plants a nice boost. Consult with your local garden centre for tips and advice on soil mixes.
  4. Chitting and planting early  Many of EarthApples varieties are early maturing, meaning they are ripe and ready for harvest earlier in the season. Chitting potatoes further decreases the growing season by as much as a few weeks. By having an early crop ready for harvest you reduce the negative impact that aphids can have on the plants and the potatoes. See the pest section for more information on aphids and how to deal with them.
  5. Frequent watering. It is important to maintain healthy vibrant plants that are not stressed due to environmental factors. The easiest factor to control is the amount of water a plant gets. Healthy plants are much more resistant to potential problems than weaker plants so keep the potatoes well watered and happy. Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet! Always make sure that your planting containers have proper drainage.
  6. Ventilating the foliage. As they grow, potato plants can become large and take up space. When containers are placed close together the plants will become congested and the dense foliage will create ideal environments for pathogens to develop into problems. Therefore whenever possible try to avoid warm and damp foliage. The best way is to place the containers in ventilated areas where they are not crowded together and where they are exposed to breezes. For gardens, try to plant the potatoes in areas where they are exposed to summer breezes.

Pests

Pests can cause damage to your potato plants and crop. It is important to regularly inspect your plants to make sure there are no problems developing. This is especially important if you are growing your crop organically. It is better to control the problem at an early stage then to try and do damage control later on. Common pests to watch for are the Colorado Potato Beetle, Aphids and the Wireworm.


Colorado Potato Beetle

colorado-potato-beetleThe Colorado Potato beetle is a yellow beetle with black stripes running along its back. These beetles are present in all provinces and territories in Canada and they attack species of the ‘nightshade’ family of plants. These include tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. The beetles will lay their small bright orange eggs on the underside of the leaves and the beetles as well as the newly hatched larvae will feed on the potato leaves. If left unchecked this can quickly cause catastrophic damage to the plants. Be mindful when you start to see these critters on your plants as they multiply and spread rapidly. To reduce the impact of these beetles it is important to grow strong healthy plants. A healthy plant is less susceptible than a struggling one so keep the plants well watered, well fertilized and in the sun. The best way to deal with this pest is to kill the beetles when they first appear on the plants. Also, remove any leaves with eggs or larvae and dispose of away from the potatoes.


Aphids

Green AphidsAphids are a common pest for potatoes. These small green bugs will usually show up on the potato plants around early to mid August and if left unchecked can cause damage. Aphids extract sap from the plants and leave behind a residue call honeydew that can block sunlight, harbor mould and weaken the plant. Aphids also carry viruses that adversely affect potato plants and the yields. Common viruses transmitted by aphids include, Potato leaf roll and potato virus Y. Growing certified, virus free seed potatoes is a good preventative measure. If aphids do present themselves, a blast of water from the water hose every so often will knock them off the plant and set them back. You may also want to try spraying the plant with mineral oil or a natural insecticidal soap as a treatment. A natural enemy of the aphid, and a friend of the potato plant, is the ladybug whose main diet consists of aphids.


Wireworm

Wireworms are tough slender worms that attack germinating seeds, bulbs, roots and tubers underground. They are found in home gardens across North America and if left unchecked can cause significant damage. In heavy infestations, patches of the garden may not emerge properly and re-seeding may be required. Frequent cultivation of the soil is recommended to make the conditions less favorable for wireworm larvae and to expose them to the elements. Rotating crops also helps to reduce the impact of these worms. Potatoes also make good wireworm traps. If there is an area you suspect may be infested with wireworms you may try the following trick: Before planting the actual crop, cut a few potatoes and and poke a thin stick or old fork into it. Bury the potatoes in the ground, with the stick poking out of the soil, and wait 2-3 days. If wireworms are present they will have dug themselves into the potato. Remove the potatoes from the ground and discard properly. Now you are ready to plant. This should reduce the damage caused by these worms.


Diseases

Early Blight

early-blightAlternaria solani, commonly know as early blight, is a disease which affects the leaves and stems of the potato plants and leads to the premature death of the plant. Symptoms to watch for are brownish spots forming on the leaves. Affected leaves will usually become light yellow and die off. This will shorten the life of the plant and result in decreased yields. To mitigate this problem make sure that the potato plants are well fertilized and hydrated. Most EarthApples varieties have good resistances to this form of blight.


Late Blight

Known as Phytophthora infestans, late blight is a disease that can destroy leaves, stems, and tubers of the potato. It is the infamous cause of the Irish potato famine of the 1840’s. Conditions conducive to late blight are warm and damp air, therefore inspect regularly when these conditions present themselves. To best prevent late blight keep container plants in well ventilated areas where the wind and sun can keep the leaves dry, and do not place pots too close together. For gardens, be extra vigilant when the canopies of the plants start to crowd together. Check the undersides of the potato leaves for late blight “spores,” which look like small whitish mould spots. To treat this fungus you may remove the affected leaves before the infection spreads. If the problem persists, you may want to try a foliage application of copper oxide on the leaves. This can also be done as a preventative measure during late blight weather conditions. For heavier infestations it is recommended to remove the infected plant and dispose of far away from healthy plants.


Common Scab

Scab is a soil borne disease caused by a bacteria-like organism in the dirt that affects the potato tubers and stems. It looks like rough, brown wart-like spots on the skin of the potatoes. This is more a looks problem than anything else because the potato is still safe to eat. To prevent scab avoid soils high in organic matter and fertilizers such as manure that have high organic content. Scab also forms when the soil is too dry especially when the potato starts to develop new tubers in the soil. Proper and timely watering is important.

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