Potato cultivation requires different care at the time of planting and during the entire growth period. Dedicating a small piece of land (or even just a few pots) to these tubers is always a good idea: their performance is plentiful and they are among the indispensable elements in the kitchen. Being able to take out and use even just one potato at any time is really convenient!
Solanum tuberosum, a scientific name used to refer to potatoes, is a plant native to the tropical regions of central and southern America.
Solanum tuberosum is a herbaceous plant with adventitious roots that start from knots of the underground stem in clusters of three or four.
The potato plant contains solanine, a poisonous alkaloid, present in greater quantity in the shoots and in the berry when ripe.
There are different varieties, which have different characteristics and are used for the preparation of many dishes.
It is the edible part of the potato, it is an underground stem, where the solanine is present in smaller quantities and is collected around the so-called eyes. Ripe tuber contains negligible amounts of solanine.
The root system is very branched and quite superficial.
The aerial part is formed by one or more stems, first erected and then folded on the ground.
THE POTATO IN BRIEF
Family, genus, species
Solanaceae, Solanum tuberosum
|Cultivation||Easy, moderately demanding|
|Rusticitа||Not very rustic|
|Ground||Deep and rich, well drained|
|Distance in the row||25-35 cm|
|Distance between rows||60-70 cm|
The leaves and the climate
The crop finds optimal conditions in temperate climates, although moving the crop cycle adapts to different climates. Frost damages the leaves and stops the development of the tubers.
Thanks to the possibility of moving the crop cycle, the potato adapts well to the most diverse climates, from the mountains to the plains. However, the most favorable climatic conditions are those found in mountainous areas: in fact, the important water supply they require is guaranteed: around 500 liters of water per kg produced ... The optimal temperature ranges from 18 to 20 ° C.
The ideal exposure is the full sun, especially until the end of spring; in summer a slight shade is appreciated in the central hours and if we live in the southern and coastal regions.
The substrate for the cultivation of Solanum tuberosum must be deep well worked, dissolved and rich in organic substance, potassium, phosphorus and little calcium, the optimal pH is slightly acidic.
The potatoes want fertile, deep, but very well drained soils. They grow well both in acid and in alkaline soils, although in the latter they can be easily attacked by scabies.
turnover: it is advisable to recultivate the potato every five years on the same soil.
Consociazione: favorable with beans, fennel, cabbage, peas and broad beans.
The potato calendar
From December to March
|Planting||From December to June|
|Collection||From May to October|
To get the best results it is important to start the work already the previous autumn by digging the soil in depth and incorporating a good amount of organic substance. In this way we will avoid too late a mineralization that would make the plants more sensitive to mildew. Furthermore, the excess of nitrogen favors the vegetative growth at the expense of the enlargement of the tubers. Even the quality of the potato itself would be affected by reducing the amount of starch present in favor of an abundant presence of simple sugars.
Sowing and planting
Potatoes called seed must have a diameter between four and eight centimeters, and a weight of around fifty grams each. Larger potatoes can be cut to make pieces with at least two buds each. It is advisable to carry out this operation a few days before sowing so that the wounds have time to heal.
On well-worked ground, furrows are traced at a distance on the rows of fifty-sixty centimeters.
The tubers are distributed at a distance of twenty-five centimeters and covered with loose soil for a thickness of three to seven centimeters. Pre-sprouting can be applied by planting tubers with already developed sprouts.
Before sowing, careful excavation must be carried out to prevent new potatoes from growing deformed.
Distant furrows are prepared about 60-70 cm. In the row the tubers are inserted every 25-35 cm depending on the specific variety, at about 10 cm of depth. In general, for every hectare of cultivation it is necessary to insert 20-30 quintals of seed potatoes.
Cultivation and fertilization
Cultivation: the soil must be kept well ventilated and cool with weeding, weeding and earthing up.
Potato cultivation is quite demanding as many hoeing and topping operations are required. They are useful to keep the plot free of weeds and to ensure optimal development.
Weeding should be carried out frequently with special tools or with a small hoe: we should avoid touching the stems as much as possible.
The hilling It is equally important: it favors the production of tubers also on the surface (preventing them from becoming green) as well as protecting the plant from the cold; it also helps us prevent excessive evaporation. Plastic mulches are also a good alternative as long as an underground irrigation system is in place.
Fertilizations: the fertilizations, mainly potassic, must be carried out when the plant has reached ten centimeters.
It happens when in the spring the tubers detach from the stolons, but it is good not to carry out the harvest before the leaves wither.
There collection it is made by hand with traditional tools, or by machine if it is cultivated in the open field. It is good that the tubers uncovered dry for some time in the sun on the ground and therefore should be stored in a dark place, since the light makes the eyes germinate and stimulates the formation of solanine.
Early varieties can be harvested since they reach the size of an egg. For the harvesting of those with a late cycle, it is necessary to wait until the foliage is dry and the skin is well resistant to rubbing: at that point we cut the aerial part and leave the tubers in the ground for about 15 days to become very hard. Later we can extract them and leave them on the ground to dry for a few hours. Store them in a dark, but cool (never cold!) And ventilated room.
The correct supply of water to Solanum tuberosum is fundamental for good growth and a good harvest; it is fundamental especially during the periods with scarce rains. It is very important, however, also to check that water stagnations do not form which can quickly lead to the onset of radical rot.
The potato is very sensitive to water shortage. Even a short period of drought can cause the loss of a large part of the production. The maximum water requirement occurs at the time of stolonization and tuberization (April-May) and then in full summer. Depending on the rainfall conditions it may be necessary to intervene every 5-10 days. We avoid rain irrigation: let the water flow in the grooves or use an underground system.
Among the parasites that attack the potato the most important are: the decemlineata Colorado beetle which is a beetle that feeds on the leaves of the plant both as larva and as an insect. It is fought with arsenic based products. The mole cricket that acts at night from mid-March to mid-October and is fought with poisoned baits. The beetle in the larval state.
Virus diseases can cause yellowing and dwarfism. Let us remember the virus 14 which causes the leaves to curl up. Among the cryptogams we recall the downy mildew that affects leaves and tubers causing blackening and death, it is prevented by spraying with copper sulphate.
- The mal white of the pedal attacks every part of the plant causing browning and death.
- The dry rot caused by verticillum and fusarium that attack the potato forming cavities that blacken and cause the drying of the plant.
They are very numerous and can be divided into round or long, yellow or white pasta, early or late.
The most well-known varieties are; the Bianca Comasca round with very white pulp, the early Forty Chioggia, round with yellow flesh. The round white of Naples, the Eesteling in a short cycle of one hundred days. The early white-paste Kennebek used mainly for fried potatoes.
Property and benefits
The potato is a food rich in vitamins and mineral salts such as zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. It is also a tuber able to give us the necessary energy to face the day thanks to the carbohydrates it supplies us. If the lack of fiber is a problem, know that the peel of potatoes contains several! Today, thanks to the studies and research carried out on the properties and uses of the potato, it has been possible to see how this is able to better some problems that can occur in the individual, simply by inserting the tuber in our feeding. For those with rheumatism, the solution is to drink the water obtained by boiling the potatoes. Relief is assured; if, on the other hand, burns occur, applying a certain amount of crushed raw potato to the lesion will reduce pain; not everyone knows it but also to treat acne or skin blemishes the potato turns out to be a good ally; among the properties of the potato we also remember its ability to prevent the heart attack, help you sleep and treat stomach acid.
Seasonality of the potato
The sowing of these solanaceae is carried out from the beginning to the end of spring, depending on our climate and the chosen variety. On the market we can find early, semi-early, medium-late or late potatoes depending on their tolerance of the cold and the time they take to reach the final size. Thanks to this wide choice we can anticipate the harvest; pre-sprouted tubers give us the chance to accelerate even more. It should also be emphasized that in the hottest regions of our country it is even possible to carry out two cultivation cycles in the year, starting with the first sowing in December and then repeating the planting in mid-late summer.
Where to buy seed potatoes?
Cultivation can start by recovering normal commercial potatoes or tubers saved from the previous year. However, we must keep in mind that, in this case, our harvest will be significantly reduced due to the high incidence of virosis and diseases. We also remind you that those intended for food consumption are treated with products that avoid germination (to guarantee their durability) and their use for this purpose will therefore be very difficult.
To avoid these eventualities we resort to seeds (small tubers) selected and sold for agricultural purposes: the serious companies guarantee the good quality of the product and the almost total absence of pathologies.
The ideal is to turn to local companies that have selected cultivars suited to our climate and the terrain of our area. We also prefer the seeds obtained in mountain areas where aphids, the main vector of the feared virosis, are almost absent.
How to get the seeds yourself?
You must start the previous year by visually selecting the most vigorous and healthy plants in our plot. We extract these potatoes about a month before harvesting for food.
We leave the tubers in the air for about 15 days and we eliminate all those that begin to show rottenness (darker areas). The others will be kept in a cool and airy room until the spring planting.
It is very important to remember that this method cannot be repeated for more than two or three years: the diseases (especially virosis and downy mildew) would become so widespread as to completely compromise the harvest.
Characteristics of seed potatoes
The characteristics of our seeds are very important in determining the methods of planting and the harvest we will obtain. Large seeds provided with many eyes will give life to a very tight and branched plant: consequently we will have to leave more space between one specimen and another. The competition between the stems will be very bright and we will get numerous, but small, tubers.
In the small tubers the eyes are present in smaller numbers: the plant will have few but vigorous branches. At the same time the harvested potatoes will be less numerous, but larger. The planting can be more "narrow" without the consequences of competition between one specimen and another.
The ideal is to buy large seeds when a chicken egg (50-80 gr.); if they are not available we can always cut them in half or in several parts, then leave them to dry for a few days.
How to carry out pre-germination?
To make our potatoes germinate it is necessary to have a well-lit room; the temperatures must never be too high or too low (ideally from 10 to 15 ° C). Humidity must also be as low as possible to prevent rot from occurring. Garages and garages are perfect, but a well-exposed area of the garden and sheltered by a roof also goes well.
You must start from 30 to 45 days before the final planting: in the South indicatively from November to January, in the North from January to March (also depending on the altitude). To obtain good results it is important to take into consideration the specific characteristics of the cultivar.
We place the straight tubers, one next to the other (without overlapping them) inside wooden crates, on boards or even on very dry cartons. The appropriate containers for eggs also go very well.
It is very important to observe them well to determine where the eyes or the first shoots are, leaving this part upwards.
It will be sufficient to wait until the time of planting; from time to time we check the conditions of the seeds by promptly eliminating those that show signs of decay.
It is also important to avoid the production of a single apical casting, favoring instead a good preparation and a consequent greater production. If during this period we see a single sprout appear we intervene by suppressing it.
However, remember that some varieties do not tolerate pre-germination or give good results by undergoing it only once. The ideal is to always ask for precise information from the retailer.
Potato - Solanum tuberosum: Potato cultivation in pots or in bags
Potato cultivation can also be done by those who do not have a plot of land: they grow very well in deep pots or in plastic bags. On the market there are even special containers with an opening in the bottom that allows us to "take" the potatoes from the ground "when needed".
In general, containers that are large and at least 50 cm high are fine. Fill them with seeds and vegetable soil (peat-free) in early spring. We always keep moist and if necessary add a liquid fertilizer rich in potassium.
Watch the video
Sowing potatoes moon
A good soil where you can plant the seed-tuber of the potatoes, must be well digged and must not have stagnation
visit: sowing potatoes moon