A Guide To The Best Fertilizer For Potatoes

Considering potatoes are famously linked to Ireland it may surprise you to know that potatoes thrive in sunny climates. While sunshine may be rare in Ireland, the soil does tend to be rich which is another thing potatoes love.

If the sun is not on your side it is important that you supply the potato with additional nutrients from the soil to help your crop thrive. With many people turning their hand to growing potatoes a range of possible fertilizer additives have come into the spotlight.

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Here we break each of these new trends down to see if they are delighting or blighting your potato crop.

Are Coffee Grounds Good Fertilizer For Potatoes?

Potatoes can be extremely difficult to grow in the garden and in a container alike. Finding that sweet balance of achieving rich, moist yet acidic soil with good drainage can be quite the task but it is always worth it when you see the produce you have grown at the end of the day.

Coffee grounds are a great fertilizer for potatoes. Like their growers, they too need coffee to grow. Coffee grounds can be added to your compost to create a coffee compost blend or alternatively you can mix your coffee compost with leaf mold.

Not only does coffee as a fertilizer for potatoes create healthy growing and development of the potato vegetables but there can also be a noticeable difference in the plant, with both the stems and leaves often thriving and in great condition.

One important thing to note when using coffee grounds is that the PH in your soil will inevitably change and so you should keep an eye to the PH levels to ensure that it is maintained within a friendly range for your crops.

What NPK Do Potatoes Need?

What NPK Do Potatoes Need

NPK fertilizer is a specific type of fertilizer that comprises three plant nutrients in different ratios. These nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, hence NPK.

The levels of each nutrient is represented by a number, which is in reference to each nutrient’s percentage by weight within the soil.

Potato plants have a greater need for nitrogen in the soil in the first two months of growing. This is when the foliar part of the potato plant is growing and developing rapidly. The nitrogen is especially helpful if you are hoping to grow larger potatoes.

The potato plant needs change as it develops. In order to form a well shaped potato there is a need for potassium in the soil. The recommended NPK level for potatoes from month two of growth up until a few weeks before harvest is 12-12-17 or 14-7-21.

While there is huge discussion about NPK levels the numbers listed here are the most universally recognised levels and should enable the growth of potatoes in a range of conditions, such as growing in a vegetable garden bed, polystyrene tub or pots.

Is Epsom Salt Good For Growing Potatoes?

The simple answer to this is yes. Epsom salts can actually be beneficial to most plants and crops that you grow as it aids plants with the amount of nutrients they absorb. Now, getting back to potatoes!

Epsom salt is enriched with magnesium which is a nutrient that can be a helpful addition to the soil your potato plant is growing in. To get into the science behind it for a moment, magnesium is beneficial in building strong cell walls.

Within potatoes this promotes and supports the growth process. If you have the means to test your soil to see what nutrients it is lacking it would be recommended to do so before applying epsom salts to your plants.

One final safety note is that you should wear gloves when handling epsom salts in your garden as magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin.

Are Eggshells Good For Growing Potatoes?

Are Eggshells Good For Growing Potatoes

Eggshells are made of calcium carbonate which is what the human body needs to have healthy bones and muscles. Plants also benefit from calcium carbonate which means that yes, eggshells are good for growing potatoes.

There are a number of ways to introduce eggshells into the soil. You can put eggshells directly into your compost or alternatively you can put crumbled eggshells directly into the soil.

It is important to note that if you are adding the eggshells directly to the soil you will need to do so prior to sowing seeds or planting.

Eggshells are also a fantastic way of keeping pests, such as slugs and snails, away from your beautiful, growing produce. This is an all natural alternative to nasty chemical products. Scatter the eggshells in a circular motion around where you plan to sow the seeds or plant your potato plant.

Do Potatoes Need Lime?

While potatoes are supposedly easy to grow there is a lot to consider. While loving sunny spots, rich soil with good drainage and also needing specific NPK’s at different stages of the growing cycle one last factor to consider is that potatoes prefer an acidic soil.

If the soil you are hoping to plant your potatoes in is extremely acidic, a quick fix is to add lime to raise the pH level. Lime should be added to the soil prior to planting.

Whether potatoes need lime will be dependent on the pH levels in the soil prior to planting and so it is not a simple yes or no question.

Tests that will enable you to test the levels of your soil are readily available and can range in price meaning they are accessible to any potato grower or farmer.

So long as you prepare your soil ahead of the springtime planting and tend to your potatoes while they grow, your crop should yield well, providing you with gorgeous potatoes to be consumed.

Don’t forget to let the stems die off completely before you pick them as this is a natural indicator of your plant being ready for harvest.

Photo by fhampe licensed under CC0.

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