Isn’t it amazing to grow vegetables in your garden and eat them fresh when fully harvested? It must feel great to see your plants thrive when you put all your efforts into their care and nourishment.
Growing vegetables in your garden is a fun and indulging activity for beginners and professional gardeners. However, professional gardeners know that sunlight and water are not sufficient for the optimal growth of potato plants. As potato grows under the soil, they need fertilizers so that nutrients can reach inside the plant’s roots for their development.
Here, many questions arise. When and how to fertilize the potatoes? What are the different kinds of fertilizers for potatoes? And many more. If these questions come across your mind, then we are here to answer every question in detail.
Why Do People Choose To Plant Potatoes?
Potato is a common vegetable in every household. People love to cook potatoes in different varieties. That is why if anyone has to choose one crop to yield, potato is an absolute choice.
Let us discuss some basic facts about potatoes and why they make an essential ingredient in every food dish.
Identify A Potato
Potato is a herbaceous perennial where the edible tuberous crops are formed underground. Being a member of Solanaceae, the potato plant is acidic, growing in fertile soils. Additionally, a healthy potato plant can produce about 3-25 potatoes. Towards the end of the growing season, they produce blue, pink, red, white, or purple flowers.
Easy To Grow
Potatoes are easy to grow and harvest. Even if you are harvesting on a big farm, you would not require any heavy machinery to produce the potatoes. Unlike the grain crops, you don’t need to mill, thresh, or combine the potatoes. Once fully grown, you can pull them out, clean and they are ready to cook.
Packed With Nutrition
Potatoes are an excellent source of nutrition. A potato contains about half of potassium and half a day’s nutritional requirement of B6 and vitamin C. Moreover, they also contain a good amount of manganese, thiamin, fiber, magnesium, niacin, and folate.
Lasts For Months
When kept under the proper temperature, potatoes can survive in their original form for months. A tip to keep them fresh is to store them away from garlic and onions. Otherwise, they will rot at a fast rate.
Healthy Alternative To Beans And Grains
Many people rely on pre-packaged beans and grains; however, they can cause problems to your digestive system. Potatoes are easy to digest in comparison to beans. Beans and grain require soaking in water before cooking, whereas you can cook potatoes directly.
Also, for people with gluten allergies, potatoes make a great alternative.
More Beneficial Uses Of Potato
Potatoes are not just for eating; there are many other benefits of growing potatoes in your garden. A potato can help to relieve toothache. The raw potato is used to treat ailments, from easing frostbites to healing broken bones. Moreover, they also help to clear the blemishes on the skin.
How To Care For Your Potato Plant To Get Healthy Growing Potatoes?
Potatoes usually grow in a cool, frost-free season. You can grow potatoes in cool northern regions during summers and in hot summer southern regions during spring, winter, and fall. You can follow the tips to grow potato plants according to the weather and temperature.
- Plant the potatoes 4-6 weeks prior to last spring frost or when the soil temperature reaches 4.4 degrees Celsius.
- To fully reach the harvest, potatoes require about 75-135 cool and frost-free days.
- Harvest in late spring or winter before the temperature goes an average of 27 degrees Celsius.
- Dry soil and extreme heat are not ideal conditions for growing potatoes. In high temperatures, the plant will have discolored mature potatoes from the inside.
Looking For The Perfect Place And Conditions To Grow Potatoes
Grow the potatoes where they will receive full exposure to the sun. Always plant the potatoes in a well-drained and fertile soil intense in organic substances. You can add some commercial organic planting mix or compost to the planting beds.
Make sure that you do not grow the potatoes where the soil is continuously wet, heavy with clay, or compacted. This will not allow the plant to take up essential nutrients. In addition to that, the pH for soil should be approximately 5.5 for potatoes. Alkaline soil increases the scab condition that can affect the potato skin.
The Best Time For Planting Potatoes
Potatoes are usually grown at a temperature of 16-21 degrees Celsius. If the temperature goes above that, it is too warm for the potatoes to grow. With this classification, potatoes can be planted in the early, late, and mid-season. Potato varieties can be arranged depending on the number of days they require to reach the harvest.
- Early season potato varieties require about 90 cool days to reach the full harvest. They are best for areas where the temperature is usually warm such as southern regions.
- Late season potato varieties need 160 cool days to reach the harvest. They make an excellent choice for areas where the temperature remains mild, like northern regions.
- Mid-season potato varieties need 135 cool days to harvest fully.
Caring For Optimal Growth Of Potatoes
Your job does not stop after planting the potatoes as they require regular caring and maintenance for exception growth. Caring for potatoes require proper cultivation and hilling.
The plants need to breathe and drink like humans to grow. The soil should not be compacted and crusty that could block all the holes and passage for air. Stirring the soil can keep the surface loose so that air and water can reach the plants.
You can also protect the mature potatoes from direct sunlight by applying mulch to cover the plants or hilling the soil over plants. When exposed to sunlight, the mature potatoes can result in sunburn, and their shoulders might turn green.
You can carefully mulch or cultivate around plants to prevent the growth of the weed.
If you hill the potatoes during the early stages of growth, your plants will not have any problem related to weeds. Apart from this, there are more reasons why you should cover the stems of your plant with soil or hill them up at least twice in a season.
- Hilling prevents the potatoes from turning green due to exposure to the sun.
- Pulling the soil between the rows and around the plants to cover can create a natural irrigation channel.
- The loose soil due to hilling helps developing potatoes to expand fully.
Storing The Potatoes For A Long Time
If you store the potatoes correctly, they can last up to six months without any noticeable changes in their skin. For that, always store the potatoes in a dark and well-ventilated place where the temperature is about 4.4 degrees Celsius. Also, allow the potatoes to dry naturally and wait for five days before storing.
What Is The Right Method To Water The Potatoes?
The potato plant requires an adequate amount of water supply to keep the soil moist. The rule is to provide about 1-2 inches of water every week. The watering schedule should be once in 4-5 days for the young plant. You can also increase the frequency depending on the development of potatoes.
Drip irrigation from the garden hose is the best method for watering the potato plants. The overhead irrigation might be harmful to the young plant as it can injure them. Also, it will direct water in more quantity than required, which will result in weak roots.
How To Rightfully Feed The Potato?
Aside from sunlight, water, plants need nutrients for their growth and development. Without nutrients, they will not be able to survive in extreme conditions. Therefore, potato plants require proper feeding through fertilizers.
To feed the potato plants, you should sprinkle 5-10-10 fertilizer over the planting bed before planting the potatoes. During the mid-season, add the fertilizers again. Look for fertilizers that contain an adequate amount of magnesium and calcium along with nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
One thing to take care of is that you should avoid adding an excess of nitrogen, which will boost the growth of foliage over the tubers.
Lastly, if the soil is deficient in some areas, you can soak the soil with a cup of compost tea after planting. It will keep the nutrients within the soil balanced and also available for the plants to absorb.
What Are The Essential Nutrients Required By Potato?
If you want the best results from potatoes, you need to provide them with the correct balance of micro and macronutrients. Even a deficiency in any one nutrient can limit the yield of the crop. But, keep in mind, the availability of nutrients should be according to the crop requirements.
The nutrient uptake depends on the crop’s growth stage, and it changes from season to season. Also, the removal of nutrients depends on yield and is different for different fields; potato crops can use over 50 percent potassium compared to nitrogen. However, both nitrogen and potassium are required throughout tuber formation, bulking, and vegetative growth.
Nitrogen promotes tuber and leaf growth. During Bulking, most of the nitrogen is recycled from leaf to tuber-like potassium.
Potassium helps to maintain the tuber integrity and is an essential nutrient for high yields. It is the luxury uptake among potato plants.
Like nitrogen and potassium, phosphate is also required in large quantities, especially during the early growing stages. It promotes rooting tuber set and overall growth of the plant.
Sulphur helps to reduce common scab and is required during all the growing stages of the plant.
Magnesium is required during bulking, where its role is to maintain the quality of the tuber. Therefore, it is an essential nutrient saved for the later growth stage.
A sufficient supply of calcium encourages leaf growth. If a plant goes through a calcium deficiency, a fertilizer rich in calcium is required to maintain the crop quality.
You do not require a large number of micronutrients in potatoes. However, to maintain the balance, they are essential for the growth and production of a quality crop.
Copper is usually supplied in significant amounts such that you will rarely find any copper deficiency in potato. Another reason for the high amount is that the soil is equipped with copper so that plants always have the essential nutrients to uptake.
Boron is a crucial micronutrient required in larger quantities as it encourages several critical growths of the plant. Moreover, it also helps to optimize calcium utilization.
Zinc And Manganese
Both zinc and manganese hold importance in the adequate yield of the potatoes. Zinc is vital for starch formation, metabolism, and N-assimilation.
When Do You Need To Fertilize Potatoes?
After planting the potatoes, you can begin fertilizing two weeks later. It will provide sufficient energy for the plants to grow into well-developed spuds. You should continue fertilization every four weeks.
You should stop fertilizing only two weeks before the time of harvest. Fertilizers require proper watering to work effectively. When you are not watering your plants two weeks before harvesting, they do not need fertilizer.
You should choose the best fertilizer for potatoes, where the phosphate and potassium levels are higher than nitrogen. Look for the NPK ratio printed on the fertilizer bag to check the amount of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium it contains. Potassium and phosphate will boost root development, whereas excess nitrogen promotes foliage growth.
How And How Often You Should Fertilize Your Potatoes?
A standard fertilization application comprises of four fertilization applications. Below you will find a clear demonstration of how you can fertilize the potatoes.
When the planting has been done for over a month, you add 0.2 tons of 20-20-20 fertilizer per hectare. Then, 55 days after planting, you add 2MgO and 0.5 tons of 15-7-21 fertilizer per hectare.
When two months have passed after planting, you add 2-MgO and 0.5 tons of 15-7-22 fertilizer per hectare. Lastly, after three months, or depending on your potato variety yielding time, you will add 2 MgO and 0.5 tons of 12-7-22 fertilizer per hectare.
There is one more fertilization system, which again uses four application processes. The first application is made at the time of planting and the last three after every 25 days. If you adopt this system, you can interchangeably add 0.5 tons of K2O per hectare and 0.6 tons of 12-12-18, along with 1.9 MgO.
What Kind Of Fertilizer Should You Use For Potatoes?
To grow your potatoes into a big and luscious one, you need to prepare the soil before planting. You should provide the seed potatoes with loose, deep, acidic soil with a pH from 4.8-6.5 while adding sufficient nitrogen and potassium doses to form a strong base.
Later, they will require fertilizers to form well-developed tubers. The amount of fertilizer required depends on soil tests. However, you can find some best fertilizers for potatoes for their exceptional growth and development.
Non-Organic fertilizers include chemicals that quickly release nutrients in the soil so that plants can absorb them whenever required. Due to chemicals, non-organic fertilizers should be added to the soil before planting.
To grow potatoes organically, there are two methods: organic fertilizers and cover crops. Cover crops like soybeans are usually grown during fall and added into the soil during early spring.
Legumes also make excellent cover crops as they fix the nitrogen levels in the soil for potatoes. Additionally, crucifiers, grasses, and cereals are other examples of cover crops.
Organic fertilizers are usually blended into the soil before planting, and when the soil is top-dressed, the fertilizer is applied on the top. Some gardeners also cover the soil with compost. Compost promotes the soil to retain moisture.
As organic fertilizers are derived from natural and organic substances like bone meal, kelp meal, and others, they keep the nutritional level of the soil balanced. Additionally, they are safe to use around pets.
Best Fertilizer For Potatoes – Detailed Reviews
For the healthy growth of the potatoes, proper care and planting are essential. That takes place when you provide the perfect grounding of the soil along with the right nutrition. If you ready to grow your potatoes, you need the best fertilizers.
Below, you will find detailed reviews of the best fertilizer for potatoes that can enrich your potatoes with nutrients and help them grow to their full potential.
NPK Ratio: 6-3-9
To fulfill the nutrients requirements in your potatoes for optimal growth, you need a fertilizer that can provide nutrition at different growing stages. One such organic fertilizer is Winchester Gardens Select Organics.
The fertilizer is suitable for all growing levels that make it a stand-alone fertilizer. Moreover, if you are at the early growing stage of potatoes, you will not require anything else to add to the soil apart from the fertilizer for the growth.
All the ingredients of this fertilizer are organically derived from sulfate of Potash, Feather Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Fish Bone Meal, Gypsum, and Blood Meal. The ingredients aim to supply the essential nutrients to the plants.
To apply this fertilizer, you can either mix it with the soil prior to sowing or combine it on the ground. Once the potato roots begin to grow, apply it again around the base. Being a granular fertilizer, it is easy to apply and water if you are using it for the first time. Furthermore, you can also use the fertilizer on your indoor plants.
- Stand-alone fertilizer
- Organically and naturally derived ingredients
- Great for potatoes growth
- Suitable for reds, boilers, bakers, and sweet potatoes
- Improves soil quality
- Ideal NPK composition
- Contains smell
NPK Ratio: 3-6-6
Introducing another organic fertilizer to the list, Organic Potato Fertilizer, which provides your potatoes with all-natural growing conditions for exceptional growth.
With a distinctive blend of blood meal, sulphate of potash, fishbone meal, feather meal, and alfalfa meal, your plants will receive all the nutrients it requires to produce large and delicious potatoes.
If you apply this fertilizer at the time of planting, you would not have to use it repeatedly. Its time application is enough. Moreover, it contains all the essential microbes, minerals, and vitamins to boost the soil’s health and provide a good yield.
Lastly, it can also protect your crop from various diseases to produce potatoes of ideal size and flavor.
- One pack can feel about 30 potato plants
- It does not include artificial filters
- Contains Non-GMO substances and organic components
- Ideal NPK ratio of 3-6-6
- Limited in supply
NPK Ratio: 3-6-4
Burpee is among the best organic tomato and vegetable plant food that comes at a great price and also one of the highly recommended fertilizers you can find in the market. The fertilizer strengthens the plant’s roots and promotes growth.
Made from organic materials, the fertilizer is safe for pets and humans around. Also, the nutrients’ quality is sufficient to help your plants grow flavorful and healthy. The NPK ratio of 3-6-4 with other nutrients release into the soil to feed the plants instantly. The slow-release formula feeds the potatoes for about three months.
Another best thing about this fertilizer is that it contains some organic soil amendments and beneficial microbes. It does not have any toxic substance making it safe to apply on the harvest day. Also, it removes any insects present in the soil.
To apply the fertilizer is a brainer. It comes in a granular form, which is easy and quick to use. Moreover, the fertilizer is ideal for young bedding plants, seed starting, patio container plants, and established vegetable gardens.
- Easy to use and spread
- Contains all-natural and organic substances
- Fertilizer is OMRI listed
- Feed up to three months
- Granules may take time to dissolve
NPK Ratio: 0-0-60
With an ideal composition of 0-0-60, Muriate Potash supports the plant’s growth, such as a deep root system, good stem growth, and firm stalks. The fertilizer is ideal for vegetables growing under the soil; therefore, it is best for the potatoes.
You can also use the fertilizer as DIY fertilizer for faster plant growth. The best thing about this fertilizer is that it aids in promoting strong roots and boosts the flowering of your plants. If your plants lack potassium, the fertilizer can fulfill that requirement efficiently.
As the fertilizer is highly concentrated, you need to mix it in the soil and water through the hose. It also keeps the plants safe from insects and diseases.
- Highly concentrated formula
- Required in a small amount
- Easy to use and apply
- Suitable for different root vegetables
- Not ideal for container-grown plants
NPK Ratio: 2-7-4
If you are searching for an easy to use a fertilizer with pre-measured nutrients, Jobe’s Organic Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spike is where you should divert your mind. The fertilizer pre-measured nutrients aim to promote fruiting, flowering, and growth of potato plants.
The fertilizer is time-released, which means it will work according to the amount of nutrients plants require. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the runoff and messiness. The plants will continuously receive an adequate supply of nutrients around the developing roots.
Each fertilizer spike will feed the plant for up to 7-8 weeks. After that, you can apply the spikes again. Additionally, the ingredients are derived from sulfate of potash, bone means, and feather meal.
With an NPK Ratio of 2-4-7, the fertilizer contains sufficient nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients. You can also use it to fertilize different types of vegetables.
- USDA certified organic fertilizer
- Enrich the soil and fight diseases
- Includes beneficial microbes that help in the quick breakdown of nutrients
- Contains active ingredients like calcium, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphate, and magnesium.
- It consists of fifty nutrient-rich spikes in one pack
- Not suitable for large scale applications
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Bone Meal A Good Fertilizer For Potatoes?
A phosphorus-rich fertilizer is beneficial for root crops as it encourages flower and root production. That’s why bone meal makes a good fertilizer for your potatoes.
You can add a small amount of granular bone meal above the soil and cover the potato seed while planting potatoes. When it rains, the fertilizer is dissolved in the soil while providing the essential nutrients to the root crop.
2. Can You Add Coffee Grounds To Potato Plants?
Coffee grounds have many beneficial purposes. Potatoes generally find neutral or little acidic soil suitable for their growing requirements. Coffee grounds can help to provide acidity to the soil. Therefore, coffee grounds work well to promote potato growth.
3. Can You Use Cow Manure To Potatoes?
Manure is good for fields and gardens. They fulfill the requirements of the soil by filling it with essential macro and micro plant nutrients. It helps to boost plant growth eventually.
Cow Manure is good for the potatoes until and unless you are not using the fresh manure. Fresh manure can burn delicate plants. Always use old cow manure.
4. How To Increase The Potato Yield?
There are two key components essential to increasing the potato yield: tuber weight or size and tuber number per unit area. The increase in potato yield comes from increasing tuber weight and size, maintaining green leaf canopy, and achieving sufficient tuber numbers.
The main influence over the increase in potato yield is the uptake of micro-nutrients. The uptake of nutrients is different for different growing stages. Plants require nutrients in considerable amounts during early spring growth. Therefore, if you do not want to limit the yield, make sure that your plants have sufficient nutrients available in the soil to absorb.
Nitrogen and potassium are essential for tuber formation, bulking, and vegetative growth. Magnesium, calcium, and phosphate are required in small quantities.
5. What Is The Reason For Small Potatoes?
There could be many reasons why some of your potatoes are small in comparison to other potatoes. It could be because of improper watering, lack of sunlight, high temperatures, early harvesting, and nutrient deficiency. The size of potatoes can vary from one plant to another or from one potato to another in a single plant.
It is satisfying to have fresh vegetables and plants growing around in your garden. With the right balance of nutrition, you can enjoy full growing potatoes in good size and shape. Therefore, for potatoes ideal growth and development, you must incorporate fertilizers in your potato caring routine.
Now, you have the five best fertilizers for potatoes to choose from, which will help to yield nutritious and fresh potatoes. You can select a suitable fertilizer for your crop to enjoy freshly grown potatoes with ample nutrients to cook and eat.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.