Growing your own potatoes may seem daunting but it takes less space and energy than you think. Enjoy a rainbow of potatoes that you won’t find at the grocery store and as we all know, homegrown produce can’t be beat for taste!
When to plant:
You can begin to plant your potatoes when the ground becomes diggable, or around 45 F. Here on the Front Range, that is usually in mid-March. If you know of a hard freeze coming, wait until it passes to plant, but a couple months of light freezes won’t hurt your plants.
Where to plant:
You can plant potatoes either in your garden, raised beds or in containers. Seed potatoes (small potato tubers) should be planted 8-12 inches apart. Overcrowding, especially in a confined space like a pot, will result in tiny potatoes. A 5-Gallon bucket will yield a healthy crop if you start with just three seed potatoes. Wherever you do plant, make sure it’s in full sun and the soil is nice and loose and drains well! If planting in the garden or raised bed, dig shallow trenches, 18″ apart, in prepared soil. Cover with about 3 inches of soil.
The growing part:
A few weeks after you put your seed potatoes underground, they will push up green leafy stalks. Some grow taller foliage than others but height generally ranges from 8-20″. Keep your potatoes well watered, particularly once the foliage has filled out. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe to scoop soil from between rows (or just add more soil if in containers) and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway. Repeat as needed through the growing season to keep the tubers covered. Actively growing plants will benefit from a couple applications of a well-balanced liquid fertilizer.
This part always feels like digging for delicious treasure…
When your plant’s flowers have come and gone and the stalks turn yellow, this is the perfect time to start digging. Technically, when your plant flowers there’s a little morsel of potato down there but you probably want to let it grow a bit before harvest. Some potatoes have earlier harvest times than others so be sure to read the “days to harvest” information on the side of the seed bag. If you aren’t eating your newly unearthed potatoes right away, leave the soil on them and let them cure for a few weeks to help them store longer!
Here’s a selection of potato types we love to grow (and eat, of course!):
Russet Goldrush- Great for baking, broiling, and frying
Harvest late spring
Russet Norkotak– Great for homemade french fries
Only 65 days to harvest
German Butterball- Perfect for mashed potatoes
80 days to harvest
Red Norland- Strong growing potato
Harvest early season (3-4 months)
Yukon Gold- Ideal for baking, broiling, or frying
Harvest early to mid-season
Adirondack Blue- Excellent for boiling
Harvest late spring