Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Planting Potatoes

We planted potatoes-even though we never have much success with them. Every year Pap swears he ain’t going to ever plant potatoes again-and every spring Granny loads up on seed potatoes every time she sees them. So we keep planting them.

Got any potato growing advice?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.



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  • Reply
    August 24, 2011 at 9:28 am

    When I was young my Dad was still able, he made big mounds and planted the seed potatos in the mounds… We moved back and forth between Missouri to Minnesota and the potato crop was never that great, but in his latter years he planted ‘them-city taters’… No pre digging, just mounded the dirt on top of the ground in a long row, stuck the seed potatos in, patted um down good and covered it all in straw… The crop was much better, bigger and easier to get at with the pitchfork… He also planted an experimental row using old tires cuz the city told him he had to get rid of tthem somehow… Tires were laid down, dirt piled inside to form a mound, then planted as usual… The tire-crop was HUGE and very easy to get at, just shake he tire and poke the dirt around a little… Thats how he grew he bulk of his taters up until his passing because it was so easy… Dont know if any of this will help, but I figure if a very disabled old man can grow taters in northern Minnesota where no one else was able to, it oughta work just about anywhere… I’m in the inner city Minneaoplis and growing a few good mounds of potatos, 1st time ever and just planted about 1/2 bag of reds that had sprouted eyes in the bag… Trimmed um up and cooked what I could, then planted the rest and their growing… What will come of it I dont know, but it’s added a lot of charm and passer by interest just having them growing…

  • Reply
    April 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I haven’t had any luck with potatoes down here. But in WV we grew biguns.
    Long rows, mounded high. We planted before the last frost. We dug the trenches, added fertilizer, the potatoes, covered with hay and then dirt.
    When I cut the potatoes, I let them sit so the cut side will dry before planting. They say it helps them not to rot and keeps bugs and things out of the potato.

  • Reply
    david Templeton
    April 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Following the signs, it’s not too late to plant potatoes.
    I, like your father, have sworn every year that I would not plant potatoes again. That’s justifiable because potatoes are relatively inexpensive to buy when you run out and my yields have been less than good.
    I believe this is what I should have been doing and I’m going to do theses things:
    1. Wait until there is absolutely no threat of frost. My potatoes got knocked down last year by frost; they grew back up but the yield was poor.
    2. Do not let the soil get very dry. It’s true that potatoes should not lay in water saturated soil, wet soil. But, the soil should never be allowed to get very dry.
    3. Keep the bugs picked off.
    4. Carefully plant potatoes sets with eyes up.
    5. Grow them in hills that are based on top of the ground, with rich, loose soil.
    6. Extremely important: Use soil that is loamy and sandy and loose. Potatoes can’t grow large and of good, loose flesh unless the soil is friable.
    7. Don’t leave the crop in the ground. Rodents and other burrowing animals will eat and damage the potatoes.
    8. Research, by internet,etc., recommended potato varieties for your area that are known to be good producers. Kennebecs and Red Pontiacs are good up here.
    9. Plant by the signs.
    Now, let’s see if all that works for me this year.

  • Reply
    Larry Blount
    April 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Here in East TN we always heard to get them in by St.Patrick’s day. Too late for that but our neighbor plants by the waning or new moon and he always has good luck.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    April 21, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I can’t add to everything everybody said, but good luck and hope your crop is good this year.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    TImely post since I would love to plant potatoes. I would really love to do sweet potatoes, but in NJ, that is not happening.:)

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    We plant the potatoes that turned a little to a lot green on us in the bin, and we do pretty well with them.
    The soil has to be well-draining. If it’s not, they’ll rot before they mature.
    With love.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Shirley Metts
    April 20, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    By the Farmers Almanac planting by the moon April 23-25 and 28-29 is good and then in may 21-22 and 30-31 for late crop. This is for states GA., FL., AL., MS., SC., NC., & TN. My father-in-law planted by the moon and all ways had plenty for the familt and lots to give away. Hope this helped. (By the way my father-in-law lived in NC at one time of his life), and farmed all his life.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    John-Thank you for the comment-and the tips. I’ve heard the Good Friday thing fo rboth potatoes and green beans.If we planted green beans on the day Good Friday typically falls-they’d for sure get bit by frost. Although this year it might just work : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
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  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    We plant potatoes in long rows which are mounded one foot high by three foot wide which helps provide good drainage. After the plants are over one inch, then add compost. You don’t want to grow potatoes in the same spot every year to avoid bugs. Potatoes are a good succession planting after peas. I don’t know of any good way to get rid of potato bugs except physically picking them off. We always get bugs, but we spend much time picking bugs and always seem to get good potatoes. We in Michigan always heard that you need to plant the potatoes on Good Friday. This Good Friday does fall on a waning moon, but I don’t know where or why that on Good Friday would be the “best” potato planting day? Has anyone else heard of that saying?
    John Pallister
    Twitter @PointlessPicks

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    April 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    PS…I could just grab me a brush and do me a watercolor of that rusted metal picture you took…
    Love the perspective….Wonder what those old tines are thinking and how many gardens they’ve worked…
    B. Ruth

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 11:28 am

    We usually have pretty good luck with our potatoes, but sometimes we plant too many of them. Just make sure you keep the potato bugs under control.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    April 20, 2011 at 10:27 am

    We always tried to grow potatoes in our big garden..It was rich ground but lower terrain. The potatoes would make some years and some not as well…
    After the loggers cut our pines we put in more raised beds, very long raised beds this time. We would just go around the pine tree stumps. I would set a pot of flowers, a water pan on the stumps for the birds or we would set ourselves down to rest when working in the garden..The stumps have rotted now with help of the Pileated woodpeckers..Oh boy, can they shred an old pine stump when looking for bugs…
    The ground was very acid due to years of fallen pine needles and the soil was sandy loam. My husband added lime and we tried without having a soil test done to amend the soil.
    We grew more potatoes in 40′ raised bed rows than we did in our big garden and they were ‘purty taters’…We always try to get potatoes in on Saint Patrick’s day (March 17th)if possible..and like Patty says, “Plant with the eyes up!”
    Also, we love to “grapple” or “gravel” potatoes to eat with fresh green peas and spring onions…yummmm!
    Our potatoes are up and growing..He hilled them a little heavier this year due to the expected heavy rain in March, so they wouldn’t ‘warsh’ up,.good thing, too! ha
    Only problem we didn’t get in Sugar Snap peas to eat with them this year…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Last year I had the most beautiful
    potatoes ever and I put them in the sun too long to dry. Lost over
    8 bushel in the hot sun before I
    got them picked back up. Three days afterwards, they got soft and
    white foam started bubbling out.
    What a mess! Won’t do that again.
    My grand-daughters just love the
    new potatoes. That makes me happy.

  • Reply
    Mary Jane Plemons
    April 20, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Plant them early. We plant on Valentine’s Day if possible, here in central Texas, about a month to six weeks before the last expected frost. We don’t cut them up. I buy smallish seed potatoes and we plant them whole. We plant them deep, too…maybe 8″ to 10″ deep. Ours got all covered with roots this year when the eyes sprouted, and we planted them a few days late, and we have a beautiful crop so far. Even though we have had almost no rain at all for about 2 months, they are tall and pretty.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

    We have good luck with taters, for some reason.
    Plant them in a hill, if possible. Keep piling up the dirt, as they grow.
    They need some good drainage. Wet soil means rotting potatoes.
    That’s all I got. Good luck this year!

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    April 20, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I really like that picture Tipper! It’s funny, potatoes are about the only thing I do grow well!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2011 at 8:12 am

    as i child in KY daddy grew potatoes and they were chest high, we have a photo somewhere of him in the field on top of the mountain. i was only 10 then so don’t know how he did it, but he said the red clay grew the best potatoes ever. all i remember is cutting up the potatoes into small pieces with an eye in each piece, then he hoed a long trough and we carefully set the piece down with the eye aimed up and covered.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph. D.
    April 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

    We alers cut the taters into small pieces making shore each piece had an ‘eye’ or it woodent make! Then you put one piece in each hole you dug jest the right depth! Too much rain will spoil the crop! So thar! It depends on you and Mother Nature as to whurter you’ll have a good crop!
    LOL! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    April 20, 2011 at 7:43 am

    My papaw always planted his potatos in little hills or mounds of individual dirt for each eye.
    Good luck!

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    April 20, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Make sure you plant them with their eyes up so they can see which way they are going. LOL!! I do miss a garden. We went to TN last weekend and saw so many plowed areas, waiting to be planted. I just wanted to go stick my feet in them. Feel the warm dirt between my toes.
    Hope ya’ll are doign well. Good luck with the taters. I love the ones you get when they first start making. Mom called them ‘gravelling’ taters. You could rub the skins off. So good raw w/a little salt (not too much salt or you’ll get choked. I know)

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