Eight tips for growing potatoes

Whether you’re looking to plant something new or you just want a better harvest, here are some useful tips for growing potatoes.

1. Plant certified seed potatoes

Planting seed potatoes means planting potatoes produced by the plant from the previous year. Therefore, any diseases and insects that the mother plant may have carried over in the seed potato. When you plant certified seed potatoes, you’re starting with disease free potatoes.

2. Avoid Manure

With most crops, adding manure is a great idea. But, not with potatoes. If you want to grow beautiful potatoes, you have to avoid adding animal manure. This includes compost from animal manure unless you’re sure it’s been well composted. If you do use animal manure, expect your potatoes to have scab. Scab is a disease that causes lesions(sores) to grow on the outside of your potatoes. As much as the infected potatoes are edible, they don’t look appetizing until you cut all the scabs away. This can affect your sales.

3. Sprout Your Potatoes First

Before planting your potatoes in the ground, allow a sprout to form on them. This will give you a jump start on the growing season. The sprouts will come out of the eyes of the potato. This allows them to grow about 1 cm to 2 cm before you plant.

You might also like: How to grow potatoes

4. Quarter Seed Potatoes For A Larger Harvest

You don’t have to plant the whole seed potato into the ground. Instead, you can cut it into several pieces, thus, multiplying the number of seed potatoes you have on hand. Just ensure each potato section has one to two sprouts (or eyes). The best way to measure this is to not cut them down to much smaller than a chicken’s egg.

5. Plant your potatoes in hills

When you plant your potatoes in hills, it helps prevent them from growing near the soil’s surface that makes them turn green. This usuallyhappens when they’re exposed to light. Green potatoes are poisonous. They contain high levels of a toxin, solanine, which can cause nausea, headaches and neurological problems.

6. Water consistently

When growing your own potatoes choose an open position in full sun on fertile, well drained soil. Also, avoid soil where potatoes have grown for two years in succession because can increase the risk of disease. A slightly acidic soil is preferable but not essential as potatoes can tolerate a wide range of soils. Maintain a consistent moisture level about 3 cm to 5 cm of water per week.

7. Fertilize

A high-phosphorus fertilizer encourages root and flower production and is therefore great for root crops. If you plant organic, bone meal is the best natural fertilizer option. Add a little granular bone meal over top of the soil covering the potato seed when you plant so that when it rains, the fertilizer disperses into the soil thereby providing lasting nutrition to your crop.

8. Add Epsom Salt

Adding Epsom salt to the soil when planting can help boost levels of magnesium.  Magnesium helps build the cell walls of the potato.

49 thoughts on “Eight tips for growing potatoes

  1. Thank you for sharing, what about True Potato Seed, I was told you can’t do without animal manure especially cow dough, please can you advice me am transplanting next week

    1. Hi Eva,

      You can protect your future potato beds from scab by keeping the soil pH of beds around 5.2 with liberal applications of sulphur. Potatoes aren’t heavy feeders but a good dose of compost in your potato patch goes a long way towards keeping plants healthy and productive. Just try to avoid compost containing animal manure.

  2. hello,
    I have really been interested in starting to plant potatoes. so as at now I want to give it a short so I was wandering what advise can u give me before I plant my potato seed. thank you.

  3. you have opened the greatest opportunity ive ever thougt of, with high cost of agri inputs , this is a relief so we wil start potato farming, more is needed on other crops, great !

          1. Yes. Grain/green crops can be rotated with tuber crops. Organic matter levels from maize helps prepare for potatoes.

  4. Thank you very much for the tips. I intend to grow some potatoes this farming season. when is the right time to do so?
    My farm is near chongwe town.

    1. Hi Deliwe, Because of copyright infringement, we’ve protected our copy. You could always bookmark it and come back to it.

  5. I like your article, thank you very much. We have a farm in Kaoma where we grow Tobacco but there is a lot of land going to waste. Our intention with hubby is to become major farmers and suppliers in Zambia. The only problem is we are not very familiar with what other crops that can grow well in that region. I will be happy to receive updates on crops how they are grown. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nsama, That sounds great. Would you like to share your Tobacco farming story? Please send us an email and we can feature you.

      Most times experience is the best teacher. You could only grow what others are growing in the area or you could try small portions with different crops. You’ll be surprised.

      All the best!

    2. Hi,Nasama
      I can help you to grow the potato. I have very good knowledge of potato seed farming as well as table potato. I have potato experience from Holland also.
      I am very much keen to start potato farming in your coumty. I can help you . I am basically from India and it’s iind world largest potato producer after China. Pls contect me +91 9815023387

  6. Hi guys,
    This is a very informative platform. Many thanks to you all.

    Can potato be grown all year round in Zambia or there are preferred times in a year?
    Secondly, how do you make sure you survive a pest or insect free crop until you harvest?
    So many thanks


      1. Hi Shimanga,
        I have been growing Cabbage, maize, watermelon, rape and they do well on my soil. I have no access to soil testing facilities, but would love to diversify, trying Irish potatoes. I have already secured the potato- tuber seed that are beginning to sprout. Please share with me DIY tips from the scratch to the end.

  7. Which fertilizer in particular is suitable for potatoes and at stage can it be applied. Thanks for the tips on how to grow potatoes.

  8. I need help on where to get true potato seeds (botanical seeds) and what are the varieties grown in Zambia.

    Thank you.

  9. Would like to grow potatoes, watermelons, tomatoes and cucumbers as well. Any advice you can give on the four?

  10. Thanks for the information but I would like to know the spacing and fertilizer application too
    Am a new small scale Irish potato famer

  11. Hi,my name is Winnie Ndhlovu my husband and i are very much interested in growing potatoes. But we are so worried about a lot of issues ie seed, chemicals, right time to plant and how long before harvest and where to find technical advice when we need it.

  12. My name is Felix Hara and have been running the Amusement Park in Northmead Lusaka for 22 years.
    Now operations of the park have been impacted by COVID19 since last year March and because of this park business has become very difficult to manage and have now decided to diversify to growing potatoes and other vegetables in bags using empty spaces within the park. As I write this note I will be planting 1600 tuber seedlings on 13th February for a start and communicate at harvest time in June’

  13. I am Zambian in Lusaka. What’s the best time should I plant my potatoes and I want to use sacks. I have heavy clay soil and right now I am busy correcting river sand to mix to the clay soil.

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