Growing Potatoes

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August 31, 2006

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.
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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
April 2, 2013

My neighbor planted some Red Russets late February. That's the appropriate time for planting potatoes in our region. None have broken through the ground yet.

Sprouting Potatoes

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April 16, 2012

I always have wrinkly old potatoes left over from my winter "load-up" in the fall. I plant them in the garden, cutting them in pieces and making sure that each piece has one or two "eyes".


I plant them 6 inches deep with the eyes facing up.

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May 22, 2008

To dress up my front porch inexpensively, I take a potato and cut out the sections where "eyes" start growing. I place these in just enough water to keep the bottom of the section wet.

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July 29, 2011

When potato planting time came around, we always saved old newspapers to soak in water the night before to bed the drills before popping the seed potato in and covering with soil.

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June 2, 2004

Since it is gardening season, here is a gardening tip. When you plant potatoes, layer straw on top. The plants will grow through and make potatoes on top of the ground.


Layer straw about 2 feet deep as it will shrink down during the summer.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 24, 2009

I remember an article about planting potatoes in an upright position which allowed you to remove the bands and harvest without digging, but cannot find the article. Can someone help me?

By Marie Behra


March 24, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I remember reading that you plant the seed potato at "ground level", then, once the foliage is around a foot high, you add a ring (wood, old tire, etc.) and dirt to fill the ring, leaving half the plant exposed. Each time the foliage gets fairly high, you add another ring and more soil, leaving healthy foliage exposed.


You continue all season, and at harvest time, you just start removing rings, and (supposedly) the tower will be full of potatoes.

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April 1, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

My mom plants the seed potato about 4" in the ground, and then as the plant grows she keeps adding straw. The potatoes form in the straw.

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February 19, 2010

I have little space and want to plant potatoes. I have heard they do not go good near other vegetable plants. Which plants are good to plant next to potatoes?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Mike from Hampton, VA


February 20, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Potatoes shouldn't be grown near tomatoes, I think because of risk of blight. They're supposed to do well near beans and corn though. Potatoes do well in tubs (especially early varieties) so you might consider growing them in containers where you could keep them away from other vegetables in the patch if need be.

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May 27, 2013

I might have planted earlier than I should, we've just gotten 2 weeks of rain and cold temps. My plant's leaves have just come up, but are turning purple colored. It's not mold, is this a stress reaction to the cold and wet weather and what can I do to make them stronger? Also will putting manure down raise the pH too much? How can you tell if the pH is too high and what can I do to balance this out?

By Alex


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June 3, 20130 found this helpful

There ARE purple potato plants and there are chartreuse ones. You might have the purple one. Was it chartreuse to begin with?

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July 6, 2009

Can I grow a plant from a potato eye?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By jim russell from Kitts Hill, OH


July 6, 20091 found this helpful

You need a piece of potato with that least 2 eyes, after cutting the potato in sections it really should set out and dry a bit or dust it with sulfur, you cannot grow potato plants from just a sprout you really need a piece of potato attached. After planting your potato, once it's about 3 to 4 in. tall start piling dirt up around the stem (I usually dig the hole and slowly fill in as the potato grows.)


Now the sweet potato is a totally different thing you have to wait for them to sprout, once the sprouts are at least 3 in. long carefully snap off put it in small glass with a little bit of water once roots form that's when you plant them.

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July 27, 2012

Our potatoes are growing very long spindly tops and there are very few. There are only a few very small spuds per hill. Would it help to mow the tops off at some point to get more and bigger spuds? Any other suggestions would be helpful.

By Marshall from Beatty, SK, Canada

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May 3, 2012

Can potatoes continue to grow once they have been hit with a freeze while leaves are present?

By Larry L.

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April 29, 2012

What is the best N.P.P. ratio for a good crop of spuds?

By Brian

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August 16, 2011

I would like information for planting seed potatoes, as in depth, distance apart, hilling, etc.

By Jim

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February 8, 2011

Instead of throwing away any potatoes that have stared sprouting, try putting 2-4 toothpicks in the side and put the half which is starting to sprout into a small bowl or glass of water.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 228 Posts
June 26, 2012

I saw several articles on how easy it is to grow potatoes so decided to give it a try. These are in about 3 inches of soil and doing super well. I was so happy to see the first signs of them blooming!

Potato Planter

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January 2, 2017

This is a page about planting sprouting potatoes. If those potatoes that you forgot about have begun to sprout, try planting them. As long as there is no rot you should be able to harvest a nice crop.

A sprouting potato.

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