Growing Potatoes

Botanical Name:

Solanum tuberosum


The potato is a perennial plant from the nightshade family, grown for its starchy tuber.


Planting Time:

fall, winter or spring depending on zone


full sun


light, well worked, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.8, that is rich in potassium and phosphorus. Avoid using lime which raises soil pH that can result in potato scab.


Cut large potatoes into pieces for planting or use whole seed potatoes egg-size or smaller. Leave at least 3 eyes (buds) on each piece. Cure pieces for 1 to 2 days until they harden before planting. The most common planting method is to dig trenches 4 to 6 inches deep spaced 3 feet apart. Place potato pieces 10 to 15 inches apart at the bottoms of trenches and cover them with compost and soil.

Another easy method is to mulch up leaves in the fall and place potatoes on the partially decomposed leaves in the spring. Cover the pile with 1 to 1 1/2 feet of straw, mulching as needed to keep tubers covered.



Keep soil evenly moist (not wet).


Hill up dirt around plants as needed to prevent light from reaching the tubers.

Harvesting & Storage:

Most potatoes need 90 to 120 days to reach maturity. You can begin to harvest as soon as the plants flower. These tubers will be small, thin-skinned and good for boiling. Dying foliage indicates that potatoes have reached maturity. Dig up tubers or store them in the ground for several weeks during cool, dry weather. If you planted your potatoes on a mulch mound, simply removed the straw and harvest your potatoes. Store potatoes in a dark, humid place at 30º to 40ºF for long-term (4 to 5 months) storage.

Diseases and Pests:

Potatoes can suffer from several serious fungal and bacterial diseases. Minimize potential problems by selecting disease resistant varieties and practicing crop rotation.



September 7, 20060 found this helpful

I once read a long while back that potatoes could be grown inside of used tires one on top of the other thereby taking up little space. Filling one with dirt and planting the potatoes in the first tire you would put on the second one when the shoots of the potato came up from the 1st one and continue on up. Believe the picture showed approx. 6-8 tires upright.

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