Planting Potatoes

Potatoes, the source of all delicious fries, hash browns, and scalloped goodness, come from humble beginnings. They are grown from adorable little seed potatoes, or tubers.

Tubers are usually the size of about a golf ball. If they are large, they can be cut into smaller chunks for planting. Each tuber should have at least two healthy eyes and weight about two ounces.

When to Plant?

In the very warm parts of the United States, in places where temperatures don’t drop below 30 degrees, potatoes can be planted from late fall all the way to midwinter. Otherwise, planting time usually falls in spring ‘edge season’ – specifically, many say, on St. Patrick’s Day, unless it’s still too cold then. Potatoes are vulnerable to late freezes, so it’s better to be later if you’re worried about erratic temperatures.

The best time to plant is about four weeks before the last frost in spring, or, if you’re super technical, when the soil has warmed to 50 degrees at 4 inches deep. Plant them in full sun and slightly acidic soil with good drainage, in loose, porous soils. Heavy clay and dry sand are both potato unfriendly. Better to have soils in high organic matter.

Protect Your Tubers

When you plant tubers, cover them just the right amount to protect them from the sunlight, to provide insulation against the heat, and to keep them moist (but never over waterlogged). Gardeners tend to re-cover the plants as they grow higher and deeper. This will continuously protect them.

Harvest in Stages

When new potatoes are ready to harvest about two months after planting, white or lavender flowers start to show. This is the gardener’s cue to carefully uncover one side of the stems and dig down to find the just-formed potatoes. Take a few from each plant without disturbing the rest of it or the roots, and then push the soil back to let the rest of the crop grow bigger. These tiny potatoes are delicious roasted!

The main crop is ready about three or four months after planting. You’ll be able to tell because the leafy tops will have died back. If you’ve planted late, make sure not to leave them until the fall frost!

One comment

  1. I am a huge fan of potatoes. I would have to say my mom is from Idaho and there is nothing better than those Idaho potatoes. I am big into any thing made out of potatoes. There are some incredible things to put it into perspective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *