How To Grow Potatoes from potatoes

Have you ever wondering how to grow potatoes?

Planting potatoes is easier than you think!

Potatoes are easily the most versatile vegetable around. Mashed, fried, baked, boiled, hashed and more. You name it, a potato can do it. So, why not skip the produce section and grow these resourceful vegetables in your own yard?

All you need is a sunny space to grow, a steady supply of water, and seed potatoes—yes, you heard that right.

You can grow potatoes from potatoes!

Take your pick from russet, Yukon, fingerling, and more varieties and get your potato patch started.

Whether you need help growing potatoes or planting potatoes, keep reading for tips and tricks on how to grow potatoes.

When to Plant Potatoes

You will want to get your potatoes planted as soon as the ground has thawed. Work the ground early in the spring and get your potatoes in the ground as soon as you can. You want the soil to be moist but not completly saturated.

Potatoes will begin to sprout with soil temperatures above 45 degrees F. It is okay to plant your seed potatoes before you soil gets the 45 degrees. Then as soon as the sun starts to warm your soil the plants will begin to grow.

How late can you plant potatoes?

The answer depends on where you live and your growing season.

In the southern regions you can plant year round . There are many different types of potatoes with varying grow times.

Potatoes need about 135 days of frost free cool days to reach harvest, depending on the variety. That can go down to 75 days.

So, you just have to find a seed potato that you can grow within a few weeks before your first frost date of the fall and count backwards.

In most climates, I would advise against planting potatoes later than the start of July.

Potato plants generally do not do as well in the hotter summer months and this is when they typically begin to die back.

Also, planting this late could take your growing season into November. Harvesting in November may not be a good idea as it will be colder and wetter depending on where you live.

The cold, wet, weather may lead to problems getting the crop to bulk out, or become waterlogged or frozen before being harvested. Freezing temperatures with damage the potatoes in the ground.

Around central Wisconsin potatoes are planted from the middle of March to the beginning of May depending on the weather. Harvest will depend on variety and size desired. Smaller and early crops will start being harvested around the beginning of July. Most of the harvest will begin in August and continue through October. Any later and freezing temp will damage the tuber. That gives between 3.5 and 6 months of growth.

Why Seed Potatoes?

You’ll want “official” seed potatoes– not sprouted, shriveled grocery store potatoes.

Using proper seed potatoes ensures you won’t be introducing any diseases into your garden, and you can find some pretty cool varieties that’ll grow better in your climate.

Prepare the seed potatoes

Cut the potato into several 1-in. chunks, as in the photo below. Include an “eye” on each piece. This is the growth point where the new plants emerge.

Don’t cut the pieces too big. A smaller chunk of potato encourages the plant to get busy and put down its own, strong roots, rather than live off the stored foods in the seed piece.

cut seed potatoes

And don’t try to get a lot of eyes on a single piece. Each eye will produce several stems. If too many grow together, they’ll compete with each other for sun and nutrients and make a shaggy mess.

Let the pieces air-dry for at least 24 hours. This toughens the outer layer of the potato and helps it resist disease and rot.

How To Grow Potatoes

You can plant your potatoes a few weeks before your last frost date in the spring. Potatoes love to start growing in cool weather. Just make sure the soil has both thawed and dried out a bit.

Since potatoes are a root crop, plant in loose, compost-rich soil with good drainage.

Potatoes seem to grow best in long rows. The easiest way to do this is to dig a trench that is about 6-8 inches deep. Then place the seed potatoes cut side down about 12″-15″ apart along the length of your trench.

Backfill the trench and water well. I like to apply a light layer of mulch and wait for the first leaves come up.

A few more potato reminders:

Plant your potatoes in full sun.

133 Rule- When planting, space them at least 1 foot apart, and have your rows about 3 feet apart and 3 inches deep.

Potato crop

How to Water Potatoes

Be sure to keep your potatoes well watered through the entire summer. This is especially important during the flowering stage of the plant growth.

When the plant starts to flower they are simultaneously creating the tubers beneath the soil.

Try to make sure that the growing potatoes receive 1″-2″ of water or rain each week. Similar to garlic and onions, once the leaves start to turn yellow tapper down watering until discontinued completely. The potatoes need time to dry and cure before harvesting.

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To increase each plant’s production, there is a process that can be done called “hilling.” This just means heaping dirt up around the plant as it grows. This allows more loose soil to gather around the plant and thus gives more places for baby potatoes to form.

Don’t bury the greenery with your hilling, just add a few inches of soil, straw or mulch every time the plant grows another 6 inches or so.

Hilling keeps the potatoes from getting sunburned, which can cause them to turn green and produce a chemical called solanine. Solanine gives off a bitter taste and is toxic.

How to Harvest Potatoes

Once your plant is about 12 inches high, you can bet there are already some baby potatoes down in the soil. You can start harvesting then or wait until fall. If you are growing your potatoes in the ground, you can leave them in the soil until you are ready to eat them.

Baby potatoes can be harvested as soon as two weeks after the plants have stopped flowering.

For the biggest and best potatoes, harvest only after the plant’s foliage has died back. Cut browning foliage to the ground and wait 10 to 14 days before harvesting to allow the potatoes to develop a thick enough skin. 

Dig potatoes on a dry day. Dig up gently, being careful not to puncture the tubers. Avoid cutting or bruising potato skin. The soil should not be compact, so digging should be easy.

How to Storage Potatoes

If you are growing potatoes for storage, leave them in the ground for a few weeks after the leaves and stems turn brown and dry. This gives them a chance to thicken their skins for better storage. You can leave them in the ground as long as you want, really, just as long as you dig them up before your first hard frost.

Do NOT wash your potatoes if you are going to store them.

For storage potatoes, harvest them on a dry day and allow them to cure them for a few days before storing in a dark, cool, and well-ventilated place.

After your potatoes have cured brush off any extra soil then store them in a cool, dark place. Ideal storage temperatures are between 38 and 40 degrees F.

Never store potatoes in the refrigerator.

They can last for up to 6 months in proper conditions.

And there you have it, you can grow potatoes, anywhere, in any old container, in a raised bed, in the field, or in your compost pile. If you have viable starts, soil, sun, and water, you can’t go wrong with potatoes.

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