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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Potatoes

How to Grow Potatoes
Grow potatoes

Potatoes require a cool but frost-free growing season. Grow potatoes through the summer in cool northern regions. Grow potatoes in fall, winter, and spring in hot summer southern regions.

Quick Potato Growing Tips

  • Plant potatoes as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost in spring or any time after the soil temperature warms to 40°F (4.4°C).
  • Potatoes need 75 to 135 or more cool, frost-free days to reach harvest depending on the variety.
  • Harvest late winter or spring-planted potatoes before daily temperatures average 80°F (27°C)
  • Potatoes do not grow well in extreme heat or dry soil. High temperatures can cause mature potatoes to discolor inside.

Which potato to plant: Potato Types and Varieties.

Where to Plant Potatoes

  • Grow potatoes in full sun.
  • Plant potatoes in fertile, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add several inches of aged-compost or commercial organic planting mix to planting beds before planting.
  • Loosen the soil to 18 inches (45cm) deep or grow potatoes in raised or mounded beds.
  • Do not grow potatoes where the soil is compacted, heavy with clay, or constantly wet.
  • A soil pH of 5.0 to 5.5 is best for potatoes. Alkaline soil increases the size of the crop but also increases the incidence of scab–a condition that affects the skin of the potato.
Plant potatoes
Potatoes need 75 to 135 or more cool, frost-free days to reach harvest depending on the variety.

When to Plant Potatoes: Early, Midseason, and Late

Potato varieties are classified according to the number of days they require to come to harvest. The ideal temperature for growing potatoes is 60° to 70°F (16-21°C); temperatures greater than 80°F (26°C) are usually too warm for potatoes. Grow a variety that can come to harvest in cool to mild, not hot, weather.

  • “Early” season (early maturing) varieties require 75 to 90 cool days to reach harvest. Early potatoes are the best choice for southern regions where summers become very warm or hot.
  • “Midseason” varieties require 90 to 135 cool days to reach harvest.
  • “Late-season” (also called long season) varieties require 135 to 160 cool days to reach harvest. Late-season potatoes are a good choice for northern regions where the weather stays mild all summer.

Spring planting potatoes

  • Plant potatoes 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost; in Zone 7 and warmer, plant a second crop in late summer or fall. Time the planting in spring so that new foliage is not killed by the last frost.
  • In mild summer regions, you can plant early, mid-season, and late-maturing cultivars in spring for an extended harvest season.

Summer planting potatoes for autumn harvest

  • Plant potatoes no later than 12 weeks before the first expected autumn frost.

Planting potatoes in mild winter regions

  • If you live where winters are mild and summers are hot, plant late-season potatoes in winter for harvest in mid to late spring before the weather turns hot, or plant early-season potatoes in late summer for a fall crop.

Growing potatoes in sub-tropical and tropical regions

  • In tropical and subtropical regions potatoes can be grown all year round, although they are best planted in summer and autumn for harvest before the rainy season.

Yield. Potatoes are highly productive and can yield 6 to 8 pounds (3-4kg) of tubers per square yard (meter).

More tips: Potato Growing Tips.

Potatoes planted in trench
Potatoes need 75 to 135 or more cool, frost-free days to reach harvest depending on the variety.

Preparing Seed Potatoes for Planting

  • Grow potatoes from “seed potatoes.” Seed potatoes can be whole potatoes or pieces of whole potatoes.
  • Potatoes are swollen stems, not roots.
  • A seed potato must have at least one “eye” to sprout. An “eye” is a bud, a puckered spot where sprouts develop; sprouts develop stems and leaves.
  • Plant certified disease-free seed potatoes. Supermarket potatoes have been chemically treated to inhibit sprouting. Seed potatoes can be purchased at a garden center or from mail-order suppliers.
  • Store seed potatoes in the refrigerator for up to one month before planting.
  • You can plant seed potatoes whole, or cut them to about the size of a medium egg, with two or three buds apiece.
  • Two or three weeks before planting, set seed potatoes in a bright, 65° to 70°F (18-21°C) place to encourage sprouting.
  • Cut whole seed potatoes into pieces with a sharp knife two days before planting; each piece should have at least two eyes After cutting, you should let the pieces cure for one to two days at 75°F (24°C).
  • Even if you are planting whole seed potatoes, it’s best to cure them in a warm place for two days before planting; this will encourage the best growth.
  • Plant seed potatoes in a hole or trench 3 to 4 inches (7.5-10cm) deep and cover with 2 inches (5cm) of soil.
  • Plant cut pieces with the cut side down.
  • If you prefer not to dig, or if the soil is heavy clay or wet, you can lay the tubers on the soil surface and cover them with 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) of straw or composted leaves.

Planting and Spacing Potatoes

  • Early Varieties Spacing: Sow early variety seed potatoes 8 to 14 inches (20-35cm) apart; space rows 12 to 18 inches (30-45cm) apart.
  • Late Varieties Spacing: Sow late variety seed potatoes 12 to 14 inches (30-35cm) apart; space rows 30 to 36 inches (75-90cm) apart.
  • When seedlings (developing sprouts) emerge, add the remaining 2 inches (5cm) of soil to the hole or trench.
  • Keep adding light soil as plants grow tall. Leave the top two sets of leaves exposed.
  • Potatoes also can be planted on top of the ground if they are covered with a 12-inch (30cm) thick mulch of straw or hay.
  • Each plant will produce about 5 to 10 potatoes or 3 to 4 pounds (1.3-1.8 kilo).

Crop Rotation and Potatoes

  • Potatoes are related to bell peppers, chili peppers, and eggplants; all are prone to the same diseases.
  • Don’t grow potatoes where any of these vegetables have grown in the past four years.

More tips: Potato Seed Starting Tips.

Container Growing Potatoes

  • Potatoes can be grown in containers. Use a shallow wooden box or a half barrel with the bottom removed; use stacked old tires or use special potato-growing bags or barrels.
  • Plant seed potatoes at the bottom of the container.
  • When plants grow from 8 to 10 inches (20-5cm)all, add enough soil to cover all but the top 2 or 3 sets of leaves. Continue this process until the maturity date for the variety you are growing then harvest.

Growing Potatoes in Trenches, Mulch or Containers.

Companion Plants for Potatoes

  • Grow potatoes with beans, cabbage, corn, and eggplant.
  • Avoid planting potatoes near cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, sunflowers, tomatoes, or raspberries. These plants are attacked by the same pests and diseases as potatoes.
Potatoes in bed rows
Keep the soil evenly moist for potatoes.

Caring for Potatoes

Watering potatoes

  • Keep potatoes evenly moist but not wet; water before the soil dries out.
  • Potato tubers will rot if the soil is too wet.
  • Even soil moisture is important; fluctuations in soil moisture—wet, dry, wet—can lead to cracked or knobby tubers.
  • Mulch to protect tubers from the sun, conserve soil moisture, prevent the soil from becoming too warm, keep weeds down, and discourage pest insects.

Feeding potatoes

  • Feed potatoes by sprinkling 5-10-10 fertilizer across the planting bed before planting; add this again as a side dressing at midseason. Choose a fertilizer that includes calcium and magnesium.
  • Avoid giving potatoes too much nitrogen; too much nitrogen will encourage foliage growth over tuber growth.
  • Where the soil is poor, drench the soil with a cup or more of compost tea shortly after planting. Spray-mist foliage with compost tea every two weeks through the season.
Planting potatoes on hills
Protect maturing tubers from sunlight by hilling up soil over plants

Caring for Potatoes

  • Be careful not to compact the soil around potatoes. Use boards between rows to avoid walking on the soil.
  • Protect maturing tubers from sunlight by hilling up soil over plants or applying additional mulch to all but cover the plants. Exposed tubers will sunburn or their shoulders will become green (called greening). Green potatoes produce a chemical called solanine. Solanine is both bitter-tasting and toxic.
  • Carefully cultivate around plants or mulch to keep weeds down.

Hilling Potatoes

  • Exposure to light can cause potato tubers to turn green; the green skin is slightly toxic.
  • Protect the tubers from light by “hilling up” soil when the green shoots or stems are about 4 to 5 inches (10.12.5cm) tall. Use a hoe to mound up soil leaving just a few leaves exposed to sunlight. Hilling will also keep the tubers cool and moist. Hill the plants again two or three weeks later.
  • Surface-planted potatoes can be filled by piling mulch deeply around the plant; you can use straw or composted leaves rather than soil.

Potato Pests and Diseases

Potato pests

  • Potatoes can be attacked by Colorado potato beetles, leafhoppers, flea beetles, and aphids. Potato beetles and flea beetles chew holes in leaves. Cover plants with floating row cover until midseason to exclude these pests.
  • Handpick both adults and larvae Colorado potato beetles and destroy them.
  • Use Bacillus thuringiensis to control potato beetles, leafhoppers, and flea beetles.
  • Knock aphids off plants with a strong blast of water.
  • Stunted plants with puckered or yellow leaves, small bumps on the tubers, or hard galls on the roots have been attacked by root-knot nematodes; destroy infected plants. To prevent nematode problems, plant a cover crop of marigolds, and apply beneficial nematodes to the soil.
Potato scab disease
Scab disease can cause potatoes to have rough skin.

Potato diseases

  • Potatoes are susceptible to blight and scab.
  • Spray plants with compost tea every two weeks to control blights.
  • Scab can cause potatoes to have rough skin but does not affect the eating quality of the potato. Cut away the corky areas
  • If scab is a problem, adjust the soil pH to 5.5.
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties and practice crop rotation.

More on potato problems: Potato Growing Problems: Troubleshooting.

Harvesting and Storing Potatoes

Potatoes for harvestHarvesting potatoes

  • Potato stems and leaves turn brown and flowers fade as tubers below ground mature.
  • Potato tubers can be harvested at any size. Potatoes harvested before they mature are called new potatoes.
  • New potatoes can be harvested when plants are in full bloom.
  • As potatoes mature their skins harden. The skin of a new potato will easily peel off when rubbed. New potatoes cannot be stored but must be used right away.
  • A potato plant will produce 3 to 6 regular-size potatoes and a number of small ones.
  • Use a spading fork to dig up potatoes. Lift potatoes gently to avoid bruising or damaging the skins. Use your fingers to harvest potatoes if need be.
  • You can harvest the whole plant or gently break off tubers, removing a maximum of two tubers per plant if you intend to let the plant grow on and harvest again.
  • To harvest mature tubers, wait until the tops of the plants die back. Leave the tubers in the ground for a  few weeks after the tops die back; this will allow the skins to toughen and the potatoes will store better.
  • Test one or two potatoes before lifting the entire crop. Use damaged potatoes immediately and store the rest in a dark, dry place, with good air circulation.
  • Potatoes can be left in the ground past maturity until the first frost, but they are most nutritious if harvested when they mature.
  • If first is not imminent and vines are not dying back, knock the vines flat or cut them with a knife to kill them. You can then proceed to harvest.
  • Early potatoes take about 60 days to reach maturity; mid-season potatoes take about 80 days; late-season potatoes need 90 days or longer to mature.
  • Protect harvested potatoes from sunlight; potatoes exposed to light will green and produce a bitter chemical compound called solanine.
  • Allow potatoes to cure before storing them. Curing will harden the skins for storage. Set tubers in a single layer in a dark place at 50° to 60°F (10-15°C) for two weeks to cure.
  • Brush excess dirt off the tubers, but don’t wash them; they are best stored with dirt on, as this helps exclude light and stop them from turning green.
  • Store potatoes at about 40° (4.4°C).
  • Potatoes will also store well in the ground as long as the weather is not too wet or warm.
  • Save the best tubers for planting next season. Don’t save potatoes that are soft or discolored. Don’t save potatoes if any of the plants have been hit by a disease.

When to harvest: Potato Harvest Calendar.

Harvest fingerling potatoes
Fingerling potatoes

Storing and preserving potatoes

  • Store potatoes in a dark, well-ventilated place at about 40°F (4.4°C). Do not wash them before storing; allow them to air dry at 50-65°F (10-18°C) for five days before storing.
  • Potatoes will keep for about 6 months.
  • Do not refrigerate potatoes.
  • Prepared or new potatoes freeze well. Potatoes also can be dried.

More tips: How to Harvest and Store Potatoes.

Potatoes with purple skin.
The flesh of the potato can be white or match the color of the skin.

Potato Varieties to Grow

  • There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes.
  • There are four basic potato categories: long whites, round whites, russets, and round reds. You can also grow potatoes with yellow or bluish-purple skins.
  • Potato flesh may be white or match the skin color: red, yellow, or blue.
  • Potatoes can be round, cylindrical, or finger-like, called fingerlings
  • Potatoes can be categorized as moist or dry. Dry potatoes are good for baking and mashing (varieties include ‘Russet Burbank’ and ‘Butte’). Moist potatoes fall apart when cooked; they are a good choice for soups.
  • Check your cooperative extension service for specific recommendations for your area.

Recommended varieties

Here are potato varieties to grow in a home garden:

  • ‘All Blue’: midseason medium-sized potato with blue skin and blue-purple flesh; use mashed, steamed, baked, roasted, and in salads.
  • ‘Butte’: early season; baking.
  • ‘Caribe’: early season; drought tolerant; all-purpose use.
  • ‘Carola’: late-season; yellow flesh; all-purpose use.
  • ‘Cranberry Red’: early- to midseason; red skin and pink, smooth flesh; use mashed, steamed, roasted, and in salads.
  • ‘French Fingerling’: late-season; use roasted, baked, and in salads.
  • ‘Katahdin’: midseason; use French-fried, baked, mashed, or roasted.
  • ‘Purple Peruvian’: late-season; use roasted, baked, and in salads.
  • ‘Red Gold’: midseason: all-purpose use.
  • ‘Red Norland’: early season; use boiled, steamed, mashed, or in salads.
  • ‘Red Thumb’: early season fingerling; roasting.
  • ‘Rose Finn Apple’: late-season; all-purpose use.
  • ‘Russian Banana’: late-season; use roasted, baked, or in salads.
  • ‘Yellow Finn’: midseason yellow-fleshed variety; all-purpose use; good for mashing and baking.
  • ‘Yukon Gold’: early season; use boiled, mashed, or in a salad.

Related articles: Potatoes for Cooking; also Potatoes: Kitchen Basics

About Potatoes

  • The potato is a perennial vegetable grown as an annual.
  • Botanical name: Solanum tuberosum
  • Origin: Chile, Peru, Mexico

More tips: Growing Organic Potatoes.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


Comments are closed.
  1. I don’t understand how to grow potatoes in tires–how to stack them. I would love to try this. Do you have some specific directions? I am an avid veggie grower and would like to give this a try. Thanks. PS: I love this site. I am here every day looking around and have leared a lot. Thank you so very much. Sincerely, Katrina

  2. Hi Katrina: You can grow poatotoes in tires or garbage cans. Basically this is a way to contain the potato plant–to grow potatoes in limited space. This method of growing is very similar to growing potatoes in hills. To plant in a hill, you mound soil to about 3 feet across and a half foot high and then plant your seed potatoes in the hill about 6 inches apart from the center of the hill. Bury the seed potatoes under 4 to 5 inches of soil; soon the leafy vine will appear. When the vine gains some height, hill up to the top most leaves keeping the developing tubers covered; continue hilling and growing more and more tubers. You can grow potatoes in a “hill” of straw (dirtless) the very same way or in an old garbage can or in old tires. Using tires, turn the soil where you intend to plant to about 6 inches deep; add compost to the soil. Set the tire on that spot and fill it with soil and compost. Add 3 seed potatoes and cover them with soil as above. As the plants grow, add another tire and add more soil so that only the leafy tops of the growing potato vine remains visible and the growing tubers remain covered and “hilled up.” Continue until you are ready to harvest.

  3. How do I tell if my potatoes are an early, mid or late variety? I’ve moved into a new home and there are potatoes growing everywhere, only I didn’t plant them so I don’t know if they are early, mid season or late variety…and so I don’t know when to harvest them…is there any way I can find out?

  4. Early-season, mid-season, and late-season when it comes to potatoes refers to the number of days from planting to harvest at maturity. Early potatoes take 90 to 110 days; mid-season take 100 to 120 days, and late-season take 110 to 140 days. To know for certain if a potato is early, mid, or late, you would need to know the variety. There are many, many varieties of potatoes–some are easily identified by their size and look. You could take one of each type growing in your yard to a nearby farmers market and get a potato growers identification, or to the county extension office. You may have several varieties growing in your yard. If you live in a warm region where potatoes do not die back and live on as perennials, you could next season, count the days from flowering to harvest and know relatively certain if you are growing earlies, mids or lates. But here is the good news, you can harvest and eat any potato before maturity–these are called “new potatoes”–and at the farmers market you pay a premium for these. So enjoy the new potatoes in your garden even if you don’t know if they are earlies, mids or lates. You will know your potatoes are mature and ready for harvest when the vines yellow and die. Aim to complete your harvest before the rainy and cold season.

  5. Early, mid or late matters not. Usually for storage potatoes are dug when the top foliage die off. But one can dig any time after the flowers have appeared. Leaving longer in the ground only allows the tubers to get larger. If you have plenty dig when you feel the spuds are large enough for your purpose. Here are a series of pictures on growing potatoes in a box. 21 August 2009 How a Potato Plant Grows The pictures speak for themselves. Clearly there is no advantage in carrying out excessive hilling when growing potatoes. The purpose of hlling is to insure the tubers are covered. For comparison one Pontiac Red was dug in the same row, which was almost identical to the test box potato in appearance.

  6. I have read over and over NOT to use super market potatoes as seed. My husband’s grandfather planted eyes ir sprouted spuds, so we thought we would try it.
    This past fall, I bought bags of taters very cheaply at an outlet store. What we had not used up by early spring began to sprout in the box where they were stored in our cellar. They quickly grew into plants! I took the taters and cut each “plant” out keeping some of the original potato on it, and planted them as if they were seed potatoes. I just harvested about 50 lbs from my garden of varying sizes of beautiful red spuds.
    It goes to show you, it ain’t all science, some of it is dumb luck and blessings!

  7. Truly you have a bountiful harvest! The advice not to plant potatoes you buy from the grocery store comes from the practice of some growers and grocery chains to chemically spray potatoes to prevent the eyes from sprouting. This allows the potatoes to stay longer in storage or in the produce bin. But if the produce person is buying fresh and turning his potato inventory quickly, there is no need to chemically treat potatoes. A good place to get seed potatoes is to buy them fresh from the grower at the farmers’ market. Seed potatoes can be planted whole or cut into pieces with 2 to 3 eyes.

  8. When to Plant Poatoes: Potatoes are native to the tropical highlands of South America. They are very tender and cannot tolerate frost. It’s best to plant potatoes 1 to 4 weeks before the last expected frost–this will give them plenty of time (80 to 140 frost-free days) to mature. Potatoes can tolerate cool soil but can rot in excessively cold or wet conditions. About 50 to 60 days after planting you can begin to reach down into the soil to check for new potatoes.

  9. Thanks for an informative page. I’m in zone 5b and getting a late start to growing fingerlings in grow bags. You’d mentioned that yield is reduced at temps >80 degrees. As mine are in containers, would it be advantageous to move them into a spot with only morning sun once the temps get up to the eighties? Or is there another way to keep them cool, or doesn’t it matter much?
    Also, I was considering layering with pet bedding (supposedly non-cedar and sterile) or straw-what do you think?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Try moving the plants into morning only sun and straw mulch–especially if you expect extended temperatures in the 80s. You might also look for heat-tolerant varieties for next year.

  10. 2 questions;
    1) we were told to pluck the flowers off the plants as they appear to divert all energy to the potatoes. Do you agree? 2) our potatoes are very small. good tasting, but small and not many. Any advice?

    • Removing flowers from the potato or other vegetables will direct energy to tuber or fruit development. However, when you remove a flower you are also reducing your potential crop–so pinching away blossoms should be reserved for mid- to end- of season when you want the plant to concentrate on developing the already existing tubers. Potatoes require lots of water for full tuber development–so you must keep the soil evenly moist when tubers are developing, or you will get small tubers. Small potatoes are often found in gourmet groceries–so take heart, you are gourmet gardener.

    • Potatoes should be ready to harvest about 10 weeks after planting. Potatoes can be harvested as soon as they begin forming (new potatoes) or as they mature. Determine the size of the tubers by digging into the side of the hills.

    • Where temperatures are warmer than the mid 30sF, potatoes will not store long. They will send out shoots and want to start growing. Find the coolest location you can to store the potatoes. You will likely need to eat these sooner rather than later.

      • you can dig a good size hole that doesnt get water and put some straw in the bottom then add potatoes but dont let them touch then add more straw then more potatoes three or four layers keeping straw on top and cover them with a board then just go get what you need for dinner and they will keep all winter but if any of the potatoes are touching each other they will rott and cause the others to

  11. Wonderful piece of information. Am tryng out potatoes for the first time and this information has just helped me to kick start my potato project.

    • The most common reason for potato plants that are leafy and healthy looking but do not produce tubers is too much nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen promotes leafy growth but not root or tuber growth. A 5-10-10 organic fertilizer is the best choice, or simply add plenty of aged compost to the planting bed in advance of planting. As for the plants currently in the ground, be patient, perhaps tubers will develop. For future crops, avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen.

  12. Help…I’ve come back from holiday and my container grown potatoes are rampant…the pots are about 15″ high and the greens are now about 36″…don’t get me wrong, they look amazing but as a first-timer, what should I do? I’ve scraped the top of the soil and can’t see any tubers. Thanks, Leanne

    • Harvest new potatoes (small tubers) when plants begin to flower and for another 2 to 3 weeks, starting about 60 to 70 days after planting. Large mature potatoes are ready for harvest about 15 weeks after planting. Some potato varieties bloom late or do not bloom. If you do not see flowers 65 to 75 days after planting, check near the base of the plant for developing tubers and continue to check every 5 days or so until you see the developing tubers–harvest when they are the size you want to eat them.

  13. Hi
    My name is pardon and i’m in South Africa

    I’m busy with my new project of plating potato’s

    I need advice since there are different kinds of potato

    I want to find out which kind of potato is good for chips and how to grow them

    You can email me at

    • Russet potatoes are often not used for fresh potatoes. You would want something more along the lines of a Kennebec, they fry up into chips much better than a normal ol’ russet. We made mountains of fresh chips at my restaurant.

  14. I grew Purple Viking potatoes and had very good luck with them — great yield, good harvest, fantastic flavor. However, two potatoes (out of approximately twenty that I have eaten) had gray streaks in their flesh when I cut them, so I threw them away. I have searched online, but can’t find any mention of this problem. I consulted a friend who raised potatoes on her family’s farm, growing up. She was familiar with the streaks and said that they are harmless and the potatoes are safe to eat, but she didn’t know what caused them. After speaking to her I discovered another potato with the gray streaks and ate it. It tasted fine, both raw and after cooking. I have occasionally noticed these same gray streaks in commercial potato chips over the years. What causes the streaks and is there any way to prevent it? Are the potatoes, in fact, safe to eat?

    • Discolored streaks in just harvested potatoes is commonly a sign of environmental stress while the tubers were forming–usually hot weather and/or the soil going a bit dry. You can eat the potatoes. Potatoes in storage can bruise and the bruising will leave a dark round spot which in time can turn to rot; these spots can be cut out and the rest of the tuber can be eaten.

  15. Hi, earlier this year I asked your advice for moving my container-grown potatoes out of the August heat. I’d planted them late in black plastic pots and was concerned the soil temp would get too high and prevent tuber formation. You suggested an eastern exposure for morning sun only. I did that and covered the pots in mulch and kept it moist. I can’t find my original question but I wanted to thank you for the advice. I harvested some and got a good amount, considering how I’d neglected them and I’ll get the rest in the next day or two. I just wanted you to know that you helped me and I appreciate it. I love your site. Thanks so much for sharing what you know.

  16. Hi,

    thanks for this website I find it very useful. I started growing my potatoes in mid February and also beginning of march. we have a hot weather but I took my chances.. now I found some of the potato plants (not very big ones the ons I planted in march) starting to bloom.. is this normal? does this mean that harvest is within few weeks? or does it mean that I won’t find any potatoes 🙁


    • Potatoes commonly flower at the end of their lives. Potatoes grow best in temperatures between 60F and 70F. If the temperatures have been much warmer or much colder, the plants may think their growing season has come to an end. The flowers produce the true fruits and seeds of the potato and when flowering starts the plant is reproductive mode–looking to preserve the next generation. Dig down next to one of the flowering plants and you may find some baby potatoes. Alternatively, trim off the flowers and see if the plants will grow on.

  17. Hi there Steve Albert.
    lol I am 76 years old and have been gardening for many years…. now I have raised beds to try.. My question to you is can you share with me and possibly others how I go about growing potatoes in a 4 x 8 raised bed……
    Love your site too.

    • The method for growing potatoes in a raised bed is exactly the same as growing the open garden. Follow the direction at the How to Grow Potatoes post–which you have already seen. You will simply mound up soil around the growing plants, just as you would in the garden.

  18. Help! I live in the West of Co. Mayo, Ireland and we always fight the blight, usually late. I’ve given up on tomatoes and I am growing my potatoes (here they are called Main crop Records [Red skinned]) in 50 liter pots, 3 seed potatoes to the pot after chitting. It was windy and no more than 52F yesterday. This afternnoon when I checked them the upper leaves were wilting and some of the leaves has blackish areas in their middle.

    I sprayed with Physan 20 but if it’s blight it’s very early, as I wouldn’t see that until mid-late July.

    Thanks for any help

    • Be sure the soil is not too moist. Protect the plants from wind and cold by placing a floating row cover or plant blanket over or around them. If the wilt and black appeared overnight it may simply be a cold burn. Protect the plants and new leaves will replace the ones damaged.

  19. i am thinking of growing potatoes in a patch of no mans land a far distance from where i live and i am wondering where would i get the water to water the potato plants apart from the seasonal natural rain. please advice
    thank you

    • Apart from an irrigation system connected to a nearby water supply or trucking water to the site, you could set rain barrels near the crops to collect the seasonal rain; you can attach drip irrigation lines to the rain barrels or a cistern.

      • For advice and updates on growing cabbage in your region, contact a nearby agriculture college or government agriculture agency.

  20. Hello. I’ve just harvested potatoes for the first time and was pleasantly surprised to fine both red & light brown potatoes when I only planted what I thought to be one variety of potatoes (as I remember) purchased from a nursery. Well, the potatoes where various sizes but I did notice that some of the light brown potatoes skin was somewhat cracked and rough feeling (like sand paper) vs. the red potatoes that were pretty & smooth… like I would find in the market. However, it didn’t affect the taste (yummy) but just curious what caused it? Did I harvest to early?
    Loved the article…very informative. Thanks so much!

    • You did not harvest too early; you can harvest potatoes at any size. Rough skin on a potato could be a fungal disease called scab; scab can grow in neutral to alkaline soil; some varieties are more susceptible to scab than others; the damage is cosmetic and the tubers are edible.

  21. hi i live in johbrg south africa. i planted for the very first time potatoes with eyes, cut some and planted those, they are now about 8inches high and being very dry to no rain as its winter, but temps can be 19/i22 degrees and summer much higher, I stack soil at the base and also use old tea bags cut open with some broken egg shells as a compost, hoping i am not doing the wrong thing here, they are very green and i am hoping they will yield some nice potatoes, I water about twice to three times a week as the soil becomes dry so i do not want this and put a good watering from a spray that i leave on for about 5 mins. they seem to be thriving. so just hope they will produce. love this info on here. lyn

    • Sounds like you are doing a great job growing potatoes. Keep the soil moist and mound the soil as needed to allow tubers to develop beneath the mounded soil. If temps get too warm in the summer, you can protect the plants by placing stakes at the corners of the bed and draping shade cloth over the top; the plant will do fine with morning and late afternoon sun.

  22. Two words – leaves & earthworms.

    Shredded tree leaves make a great potato bed amendment.
    They break up hard/heavy soils, hold moisture, but also allow excess moisture to drain (best w/leaves mixed in well with ground soil).

    Earthworms largely eat the fungi (fungi-like) & bacteria that can harm potatoes.

    Earthworms also largely eat the fungi (fungi-like) & bacteria that feed on & break down leaves.

    Earthworms then also leave behind beneficial and nutritious castings as they eat those fungi (and fungi-like) & bacteria.
    Those castings make for a secondary great potato bed amendment.

    Earthworms will not feed on the tubers (earthworms are secondary decomposers, feeding only on the stuff left over after: 1) Enzymes have broken-open cell walls; and 2) Bacteria & fungi (fungi-like) microorganisms have fed on all that stuff inside those cell walls.
    The earthworms play clean-up.

  23. Hi there, Thank you so much for the useful information!. I found it even more helful than a few books I have got.
    I need some advice please! I’ve got 50 plants of potatoes I had planted just before spring and had been collecting very good new potatoes since day 65. I was planning to leave the plant to die back to cure the tubers to have a longer storage, but the plants has develop potato blight and the tuber are not affected yet but I am not sure whether to harvest everything right now or just snip the all the foliage and leave the potatoes on the ground. Also the weather has turn very hot 86F(Our climate is Mediterranean)

    • Blight can get into the soil and it will rot the tubers. To ensure the tubers are not affected by the blight, it is best to lift them and store them in a cool, dark place until you need them.

  24. What should I do when I get green tomato looking fruit on my potato stems? When I looked it up it said they were Poisonous, so does that mean my potatoes are no good? Help, please

    • The leaves and seeds of potatoes are poisonous. What you see is likely a seed pod that followed a flower. Dig down to check on the tubers; they are likely ready for harvest.

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