Every Good Friday, my Father would be in the garden planting his
potatoes. He said it was a sign of good luck. Actually, the tradition of
Good-Friday potato planting stems from the Great Potato Famine. Protestants
wouldn’t eat the potato because it wasn’t mentioned in the Bible, but Irish
Catholics brought it into the Church by “baptizing” it and planting it on
Good Friday. However, the Irish were late bloomers as far as the potato is
concerned, for men have known how to grow potatoes since 200 B.C.
Potatoes were first cultivated by Peruvian Incas around 750 B.C. In addition to knowing how to grow potatoes, early Peruvians put them to several good uses after harvest, dehydrating them for later use (the first instant potatoes!) and making potato flour. Archeologists have also found potato shaped pottery, leading them to believe that the potato was an object of worship as well as a food staple for the Incas.
You neither have to worship the potato nor plant it on Good Friday to know how to grow potatoes. Potatoes are one of the few plants that can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. However, your potatoes won’t begin to grow until the soil temperatures warm to 45 degrees (Fahrenheit). You should also plant potatoes in evenly moist soil. Overly wet soil will either cake, making it difficult for your tubers to grow or it may cause your seed potatoes to rot before they can get a respectable start! Perhaps you need some good vegetable gardening tips to succeed with your potato growing endeavors.
Although potatoes can be planted from seed, gardeners that know how to grow potatoes generally plant them from seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are those from last year’s crop that have “eyes”, which are the tiny buds that will produce the potato plant. Cut seed potatoes in chunks before planting, maintaining two or three “eyes” in a chunk. Small potatoes can be planted whole.
As you gain experience in how to grow potatoes, you’ll learn that there are nearly as many ways to grow them as there are to cook them! Usually planted in rows, potatoes can also be planted in mounds or hills, or for those that have very limited garden space, containers. Just as with other plants that take to growing in hills, a potato mound can support three to four potato plants.
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