This online guide has been created for you to successfully grow a variety of plants that thrive in the tropics, using native seeds and plants to get growing with wise advice from fellow backyard gardeners and farmers.   You are welcome to add your wisdom andshare growing and harvest tips and recipes. Send to Welcome to the Pro-Organic Belize
Tropical Garden Grow Guide

Where you are the student and the teacher


Botanic name: Solanum tuberosom
Plant type:

Vegetable/nightshade family       

Sun exposure: full sun
 slightly acidic;
pH 5.0 – 5.5
Soil preference: loose well drained soil. Potatoes do not grow well in heavy clay-like soil.



December 2021 plant of the month: Irish red potatoes
by Mary Loan


Traditionally Irish red pototoes are planted during the first two weeks of November in Belize for harvest by February.   Potatoes grow better in the cooler months of the year  and are easier to harvest before the dry season when the soil hardens. There are two varieties of Irish potatoes, white and red.  The red variety grows better in Belize and can be stored longer. 

How to grow: Potatoes grow from cut up pieces of potato called seed potato.  Potatoes are cut into pieces with eyes (the buds) ensure that each piece has at least two eyes.  A general rule: One pound of potatoes will make approximately 9-10 seed pieces.  In order to help ensure disease free seed potatoes, farmers in Belize order seed potatoes in June or July each year from Belize Agriculture Extension Service at Central Farm 824-2123.


Spade the soil to about 8-12 inches deep, then work the soil into hills, or make trenches

with raised mounds on each side about 24 inches apart. Avoid using animal manure unless it is well composted. Plant each seed piece with the cut side down about 2 inches deep and be sure to irrigate until the plants sprout and while they are growing if it does not rain.


As the plants grow, potatoes may come to the surface.  While they are growing, be sure to keep the potatoes covered with soil at all times to prevent the potatoes from toxic greening.   Mulch, like straw and sawdust helps cover the potatoes and prevents weeds.


Insect and disease control: Flea beetles, aphids, wire worms and leaf hoppers like potatoes. Sulfur, bt, and neem based insecticides are recommended as acceptable 'organic' insecticides.  Potatoes are also susceptable to early blight, black rot, viruses and wilt.  Be sure to use potatoes free of disease to avoid diseases.    


To harvest: Harvest is generally within 95 – 110 days.  Potatoes are ready for harvest when the top of the plants begin to die and the potatoes feel firm to touch. Dig around and under the circumference of the plant with a shovel or spading fork allowing at least 8 – 10 inches away from plant to help prevent cutting into the potatoes.  Raise the plant and shake away the soil.  Remove the potatoes from the vines.

Store the potatoes in a cool shaded location.


Health benefits: Potatoes contain vitamins and minerals and carbohydrates and protein.

An average potato, approximately 3 inches by 3 inches, contains about 168 calories, 5 grams of protein, 37 carbs, 4 grams fiber, 24 milligrams sodium, 37% RDI vitamin C and 31% vitamin B6.


Recipes: Irish red potatoes are delicous, boiled, baked, roasted, fried or cooked and made into hot or cold potato salad, or added to soups and stews.


An easy pan fried recipe: Wash about 5 potatoes, then cut the potatoes into quarters.  Cover with salted water and gently boil for about 5 minutes, drain then add to a frying pan with two tablespoons coconut oil and one large sliced up onion.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are browned and the potatoes are tender. Stir once or twice while the potatoes are cooking.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.