Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Potatoes

Golden Potatoes


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Where to buy potatoes: Burpee Gardening

This half hardy vegetable is a culinary staple, and yet is overlooked by many backyard gardeners. The taste and texture of home-grown potatoes are far superior to store bought, especially the early varieties. They need a cool climate, and also need to be watched to prevent sunburn. Potatoes can be grown as a winter crop in warmer climate zones.


  • Plant seed potatoes (pieces of whole potato or a small whole potato, with at least 2 eyes per piece) 0-2 weeks after last spring frost.
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so a 1-2 days ahead of time. This will give them the chance to form a protective layer, both for moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • You may start planting earlier, as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops will be ruined by a frost.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting.
  • Plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.
  • Practice yearly crop rotation.
  • See our video on how to grow potatoes in a trash can, the easiest ever container garden!
  • Before planning your garden, take a look at our plant companions chart to see which veggies are compatible.


  • Potatoes thrive in well-drained, loose soil.
  • Potatoes need consistent moisture, so water regularly when tubers start to form.
  • Hilling should be done before the potato plants bloom, when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Hoe the dirt up around the base of the plant in order to cover the root as well as to support the plant. Bury them in loose soil. The idea is to keep the potato from getting sunburned, in which case they turn green and will taste bitter.
  • You will need to hill potatoes every couple of weeks to protect your crop.


  • Aphids
  • Flea Beetles
  • Leaf Hoppers
  • Early/Late Blight
  • Potato Scab: Most likely cause by soil with high pH. Remember: Potatoes like acidic soil (do not plant in soil with a pH higher than 5.2). Dust seed potatoes with sulfur before planting.


  • Dig potatoes on a dry day. Dig up gently, being careful not to puncture the tubers. The soil should not be compact, so digging should be easy.
  • New potatoes will be ready for harvest after 10 weeks, usually in early July.
  • You should harvest all of your potatoes once the vines die (usually by late August), or the potatoes may rot.
  • Make sure you brush off any soil clinging to the potatoes, then store them in a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal temperature for storage is 35 to 40°F.
  • Do not store potatoes with apples; their ethylene gas will cause potatoes to spoil.
  • Whether you dig your own potatoes or buy them at a store, don’t wash them until right before you use them. Washing potatoes shortens their storage life.
  • Find more tips on getting potatoes ready for the root cellar.


Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

Potato promoter Antoine Parmentier convinced Marie Antoinette to wear potato blossoms in her hair.

Grated potatoes are said to soothe sunburnt skin.

“What I say is that if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”
A. A. Milne, English writer (1882–1956)



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I didn't rotation my crop of

I didn't rotation my crop of potatoes and this year the plants look like the rotten at the roots. Is there any thing I can do?

Hate to say it, Ethelean, but

Hate to say it, Ethelean, but your "practice" proves the rule: crop rotation is essential to success. It's probably small consolation now but we have a feature—and very helpful chart—on crop rotation in the 2014 Old Farmer's Almanac, which will be available for purchase in most place by end of August, everywhere in September. In the meantime, put this behind you and patronize local farmers markets.

I have planted four varieties

I have planted four varieties of potatoes in my garden this year and interwoven tomatoes, onions, potatoes and radishes having been told that interplanting can balance out soil pH usage. My potatoes were planted about April 4 and my latitude is 38 in Kansas. Weeks ago one of them started flowering. Personally it has been years since I grew potatoes or an outside garden. Last one was successful but only one variety of potato. I was wondering if I should continue to wait until the plants die like you suggested and wondered about making them green potatoes and bitter. Am I headed for disaster? It looks good so far and another site said I can harvest when the plant flowers but leave the small potatoes to grow on until frost or plant dies.

Edward, We recommend waiting

Edward, We recommend waiting until at least the flower die and the vines are tending to. Then, pick a couple of potatoes and check them: "New" potatoes—the first ones of the season typically about 1.5 inches in diameter, should be used immediately. They do not store well.
Leave a portion to harvest when all of the vines have died back (to a point in your question, the key word there is "died"). "Cure" (thicken the skin of) those before putting them away for storage by putting them in a space with temp of 50°F to 60°F and relatively high humidity (85 to 90 percent), such as a basement, for two weeks. Remember, too,not to store potatoes with apples or other fruit. Ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas, which encourages the tubers to sprout. Wishing you a hefty harvest!

My potatoes have been growing

My potatoes have been growing like wild this year, well, this is the first year I have tried to grow potatoes. I did the trench style and have been hilling them up all spring and summer. My plants sprouted May 8th, it is now June 7th and my plants are 2.5 feet tall from the bottom of the trench and still growing like a wild fire. I am averaging an inch a day right now. My concern is I have lots of growing season left but if they do not slow down I will have a mountain in my garden. Should I keep hilling or let them go? I am growing Yukon Golds in Nebraska.

Hi, I've had tons of

I've had tons of experience growing potatoes, and my advice is to hill up to about 18 inches; sounds like you ought to be about there if you've been hilling all along. By the time I've hit 18inches, I've always run out of any more soil to hill anymore! Harvest when the tops of the plants die. My plants usually get to be about 3feet tall before they start to die. Good luck!

Blake, keep in mind that some

Blake, keep in mind that some trenches are 7 to 8 inches deep, which should require less hilling. A relatively shallow trench of about 4 inches would need 6 to 8 inches of hilling. How deep was your trench? Also remember that part of the reason you hill is to keep keep the spuds moist; the soil helps with that. When you reach the desirable height, consider mulching. Potatoes need at least 1 inch of water per week. We hope this helps and that you have a hefty harvest!

My trenches started out about

My trenches started out about 12 inches deep. After filling in the trench I continued to hill up another 18 inches, giving me 2.5 feet of covered plant. They have slowed in growth a bit and have a few buds up top that should pop open soon which I think is a good thing. I too hope for a great harvest, thanks for the input everybody.

If I planted them Apr.15 when

If I planted them Apr.15 when should they be ready..........

I planted 100 # of potatoes

I planted 100 # of potatoes last year and only harvested eight bushels. I had real pretty plants but not many potatoes. What do you think happened? We had a lot of rain too.

Hi David, Potatoes need full

Hi David,
Potatoes need full sun and prefer well-drained, light, deep, loose soil, high in organic matter. Potatoes grow best in acid soil with pH 4.8 - 5.5. If you used a fertilizer with high nitrogen content your potatoes may have put a lot of their energy into the top growth. The rain may also have contributed to the poor harvest.

We placed a potato in a bowl

We placed a potato in a bowl of water with toothpicks and it started to grow sprouts.. well now we put it in a pot of soil and it has taken off. It has grown tall, like a tomato plant.
My question is can we place it in the ground?, so it can continue to grow? What do we need to do?

Yes, you can plant any time

Yes, you can plant any time after the plant sprouts its first leaves. Transplant it to a pot with potting soil or to the ground. Make sure to remove the toothpicks and transfer the plant carefully from the bowl you do not damage the roots.

when is it to late to plant

when is it to late to plant potatoes in St Anthony,Idaho?

In your area, potato planting

In your area, potato planting starts in early April and goes into middle May. Harvest runs early September through mid-October. However, there are a couple varieties that you can plant late. You just want to make sure that the number of growing days (eg., 100 to 120) allow the plant to get harvested before frost.

I have never grown potatoes

I have never grown potatoes and wonder if they grow good near salt water...we usually don't have great sucess with our plants Iguess the soil is acidic like we need for potatoes?

We don't have experience

We don't have experience growing potatoes near salt water, however, potatoes are relatively tolerant of soil pH. To improve your soil structure and potato production, add lots of compost.

Hello- I live in SC & never


I live in SC & never intended to plant potatoes this year. I found some good-looking plants in our compost bin, though, & transferred them to the flower garden before I even knew what the plants were. This was late March- presumably the plants got started in the bin earlier in March. All plants are doing well now- it is late May. One plant in particular really flourished & now has a couple of seed pods after flowering. Another smaller plant has just begun to flower. We've had an unusually cool spring, but summer is heating up. I have no idea what variety of potatoes these are, but I'm guessing there are a few varieties of fingerling potatoes based on what I can remember going into the compost bin. At least one plant has red potatoes. What are your thoughts about when I should harvest?

The traditional time to

The traditional time to harvest potatoes is when the foliage has wilted or dried. Poke around for one spud and see if it looks edible. If you like it, pick em!

enedina bernal

my brother wants to know when it is right to pull/dig the potatos out. he had planted them like 3 weeks ago....

It's still too early.

It's still too early. Typically, you want to wait til the plant dies back. Then dig 'em up and let them set out a couple hours for the skins to harden before storing them in a cool, dark place.


I have potato plants that were doing very well in the garden. Until they got frost burnt! Now the leaves are brown dry. Should I pull up & start again or will they snap out & still produce potatoes?

Once the frost has got them

Once the frost has got them they've had it I'm afraid, re seed within the next two weeks and fertiliser will be necessary as the first crop would have taken alot from the ground to grow that far.

Darn!! Thank you!

Darn!! Thank you!

No, leave them in the ground.

No, leave them in the ground. Mine came back after the leaves were all burned by frost. They look great now.

Ditto. We had two different

Ditto. We had two different frosts this spring. Each time the plants withered and dried up, but then new growth came up and they are all alive and well.

Can I move potato plants once they begin to grow

I didn't dig up my potatos last year bc I thought they had all died do to the tomotoes (didn't know I should not put tomatoes and potatoes together) anyway, when I was turning the soil for the garden this year, I had a zillion tomaotes that are now growing, can I move the plants around to spread them out now that they are growing or what should I do?

Sure! Grab those tomato

Sure! Grab those tomato seedlings and give them a good home—in your garden or those of your neighbors! They are sprouting from seeds of fruit left in the soil last year. Congratulations!

Why can't one plant tomatoes

Why can't one plant tomatoes and potatoes near each other?

raised bed and spuds

We live in Minnesota, 20 miles by bird from Canada. I'm planning to construct raised beds in order to raise potatoes, carrots, perhaps onions. How should I space the potatoes? And should I rotate them from bed to bed each year? The last couple of years, we've raised Yukon Golds and Norlin Reds, both of which have done very well.

Crop rotation is a much more

Crop rotation is a much more complicated matter than can be addressed here but it will be covered at length in the 2014 edition of this Almanac! Here is an excerpt of that article that might help you:
A 4-year rotation could be four plots, rows, or pie shapes in a circle, with a different plant family in each one. For example, in plot or row one, the mustard family; in the next plot or row, the nightshade (POTATO) or gourd family; in the third, the carrot or onion family; and in the fourth, the pea family. Every year, the plant families would move to the next plot, always in that order.
Members of the onion family do not need to be rotated, but always give them rich, composted soil and check the pH.
As per the directions above, plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.

potato plants

i live in phx., az. the plants r growing tall and some have gone into bloom. my question is;can i cut back the stems w/o stopping the producing of the tubers?

potato plant pruning

It's best not to prune the potato plant in this case, because it needs its leaves to make food for the growing tubers. If some of the plant's leaves are pruned off, then the quality/size of the potatoes may suffer.

Do not cut the stems off of

Do not cut the stems off of the potato plants. (What's not to like?) Harvest the potatoes when the vines, or stems, wilt and die.

potatoes in HI

I live in Hawaii and planted some potatoes in my garden, they now have blossomed. so my question is when should I harvest them?

Once the stalks have died

Once the stalks have died off.

Covering up the vine

When your potatoes for start growing and you start pulling dirt on them should you keep covering up the entire vine

Once your plants are 6 to 8

Once your plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, hoe extra soil loosely around the base of the plant -- to within about 1 inch of the lower leaves from both sides of the row. Repeat in about 2 to 3 weeks. You "hill" the soil so that water doesn’t puddle around the seed. As the vines grow, mound up soil, covering the vine with just the tip remaining above the top of the mound. Do this until the mound is about 12 inches tall. Potato tubers develop above the planted seed piece, not below it. This is why tubers need to be covered with soil at all times.

potatoes in phoenix

I planted yukon gold potatoes March 5th been covering with a commercial compost/mulch June can hit 115 easy,sun about 5 hours a day but can really heat up ground, mound is about 3' high are they going to cook before mature?

Sad to say, maybe. Potatoes

Sad to say, maybe. Potatoes are defined as a cool-season vegetable. Your area gets so hot, it might be wise in future to avoid the peak heat with a variety that better suited to the climate; there are early, mid- and late-season varieties by planting in late summer or fall. Consult your local extension org or local nursery for specific advice. In the meantime, you could maybe try to keep them cool... If the mound is 3 feet high, it's also possible that you will get even a small harvest by/before June. We hope this helps.

Potato eyes have grown long—is it too late to plant?

I left some yukon potatoes way too long in cool storage. The eyes had grown about 8 inches before I discovered them. Can I cut these up and plant them? Does the growth from the eyes give them a head start? If so, should I make sure that the growth is above ground? Or should I just compost them and start over?

Just go ahead and cut them up

Just go ahead and cut them up for planting. leave a couple of inches of the sprout sticking out of the soil. They will do fine. Protect them from frost with an old sheet if it gets cold.

is it ok to plant potato when

is it ok to plant potato when it has been raining?

How much rain? Potatoes like

How much rain? Potatoes like well-drained soil, ideally sandy. As long as it's not heavy and wet, you are fine. Excessive rain leads to tuber rot. Sandy soil dries out and warms up early in the spring, so that you can plant earlier.

How long does it take for

How long does it take for potatoes to mature from planting to harvasr?

Maturity time depends on the

Maturity time depends on the potato variety. Potato cultivars are grouped by maturity. Early maturing potatoes: 70-85 days after emergence. Medium maturing: 85-100 days after emergence. Late maturing: Over 100 days.


Help! I planted my potato cutting roots downward facing in a basket in my small open courtyard and since then I have had light snow and severely cold weather but the basket it is in is surrounded by 3 walls of the house so no frost ever forms out there. How likely am I to see a plant form? Trudi Rosie

If the potatoes are deep

If the potatoes are deep enough in the soil and haven't started to show any growth above the soil they may be OK. If you are expecting more cold weather you can cover the basket with a blanket or a heavy sheet.

likely harvest?

It's difficult for us to know if you will get potatoes, what with the conditions you describe (and don't include). It sounds like you have a microclimate environment—and that can be a good thing.
Just about any plant has a minimum soil temp tolerance. For potatoes, that's 40°F. A consistent 40°F. (Was that the soil temp when you planted??)
If additional cold conditions are expected, esp at night, you could cover the bucket. Use whatever is handy; the idea is to retain the heat that--presumably--the pot gathers in the course of the day.
Depending on how long/severe the cold is you might—emphasize might—be able to unearth the cuttings, bring them into the house in a portion of warm dirt and then replant later when temps are suitable.
Or you might have to start again. It's early in season; don't let that possibility deter you.
Good luck!

Composite potato

I planted potatoes in rows 90cm apart and they are germinating. Is it possible to mulch using maize stalks or can I put the maize stalks in between rows?

You may need to mound some

You may need to mound some more dirt around the potatoes as they grow taller. Put the stalks in between the rows to keep the weeds down.

planting potatoes

As a science project, my son and I planted a small plot of potatoes. I don't know if the eyes where up or down. It has only been two days. Should I make sure or leave them alone?

Eyes Up

If you planted seed potato pieces in a shallow trench, then the method is to plant with their eyes up (cut sides down). It will take about 2 to 4 weeks for stems to emerge with this method. You can always replant if it has only been 2 days. Just make a shallow trench (about 4 inches deep), plant, and recover with soil.

when to harvest?

it has been almost 1 or 1 and a half month i planted 2 potatos and i can see its plant over the soil almost 25 to 30cm of height. so when should i harvest them?

harvesting potatoes

Many potatoes mature within 80 to 120 days after planting, depending on cultivar and conditions.

For new potatoes (usually about an inch or so--or 2.5 cm--in diameter), a general guideline is to harvest them when the plant is in bloom. These should be handled delicately, as they bruise easily. Avoid disturbing/stressing the plant as best you can, so that the remaining potatoes can mature. Use new potatoes right away, as they do not store well.

To harvest mature potatoes for storage, wait until 2 weeks after the plant has died at the end of the growing season (the leaves will yellow, turn brown, and die). This gives enough time for the tubers to mature and for their skins to thicken, so that they will store well. Again, be gentle when handling the potatoes--any scrapes may invite disease in storage.

Harvest all potatoes before frost.

yes harvest all potatoes

yes harvest all potatoes before frost

when to harvest

I start digging when the blossoms dry up, but you can carefully dig new potatos when the blossoms are full, but don't pull the plant up because there are lots of little taters still growing.

Growing them in a whiskey barrell.

I have several store bought potatoes that have lots of eyes. Is it necessary to wash them before planting or can I just cut them and plant parts with growth?

Wash the eyes?

Store-bought potatoes are not recommended for home gardens. They may be sprayed with chemicals or infected with disease that could remain in your soil for a long time.
For best success, purchase seed tubers from a local nursery or agriculture store. Cut them into pieces (minimum 2 ounces or so) with at least one "eye" or bud per piece; prepare them at least a day before planting so that the fresh cut can dry. Plant them cut-side down. (Washing is not necessary; remember, plant them dry.)
While you're waiting for your harvest, eat the grocery store potatoes! Best wishes!

mulching potatoes

Can pine straw be used to cover the tubers, or mulch the potatoe plant?

pine straw on potatoes

Pine straw seems to be popular in Texas and other southern areas. (Is that where you garden?)
Presumably, because it's pine, pine straw is acidic. Potatoes like slightly acidic soil, specifically a pH range of 4.8 to 6.0. However, they may not like too much of a good thing.
We suggest that you test your soil's pH and determine whether or not it needs additional acid. Based on that test, you could use pine straw alone or play it safe by adding other mulch materials to the pine straw and so reduce the acidic effect.
We hope this helps. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

what does the 2013 farmers

what does the 2013 farmers almanac say is a good time to plant potatoes i live in mo

compost potatoes

I planted my potatoes in the ground and just as they started to grow i put grass clipping and other waiste like your building a compost pile. When harvest time came i had more potatoes then i knew what to deal with. My friend told me that i got so much was because potatoes love constant heat from the compost. Any truth to that?

compost potatoes

Good for you! Without knowing what exactly you put into your compost heap on your potatoes (and we really don't need to know, thanks ;-)), it's hard to know if the pile created heat that made a difference. It may be the the composted ingredients were beneficial to the potatoes by simply adding nutrients; that's what compost does. If what you're doing works, keep it up! Remember to plant your potatoes in a different spot next year; crop rotation is key the success of just about any annual vegetable. Good luck with your spuds!

I'm just now digging our potatoes.

When would be a good time to dig them up? We live in WV.

digging potatoes

Wow—if you haven't turned them up yet, lucky you! Potatoes can be harvested anytime after the foliage—the green leaves and stems—fade and die. This being nearly the end of September, they should be ready or nearly so. You can check but gently digging one of the plants near the end of your row (presuming the plants are in rows) or any one plant that will not disturb the others. Dig by hand, not shovel, to avoid slicing into a potato. (So this is more like moving the soil away from the hill you've created.) Try to find a few spuds. If they look "good"—done, ready—you can probably harvest them all. In any case, take them before the frost, and see the notes above for cleaning (do NOT wash until ready to use) and storage.
We hope this helps!

Lol I live in N.B. and

Lol I live in N.B. and planted potatoes in early august .... the flowers have just started falling off.... will be a while befored ready to harvest.... just thought i'd share cause urs aren't onlylate ones

digging in

Harvest your potatoes when the tops—the leaves, the vines—decay, no matter where you are. That part of the process is not zone related. Good luck!



Planting potatoes

You can plant early varieties as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Plant later varieties from mid-May to early mid-June.

Potatoes in the South

Mid-zone 8, Vicksburg, MS; loess silt soil
Potatoes (Irish around here to distinguish from sweet) grow very nicely here and at least down to Natchez. Historically, they were a staple since early 1800s. Can be planted in the ground but spring weather makes wet gooey soil. Best to plant in late Jan or through Feb, which is why the soil is wet and gooey. Better to lay cut tubers on bed surface and cover with a good 6-in. loose wheat straw or other loose mulch. Don't hill or otherwise disturb until ready to harvest new potatoes, which will start in late May/early Jun here. Pull aside straw and gather what is wanted then recover. Plants will continue developing tubers. Tubers develop at or just below soil surface. An inch or so of water on bed per week if rain is lacking. The mulch protects potatoes even after the vines die off, easing the problem of storage in the wet warm South.

potato plants

I planted my potatoes in 2 large round planters.. I harvested them this weekend and got a lot of potatoes some were small some where big...Some already started getting eyes on them...I washed them and dried them and put them in a bin with a paper towel under them in a refrigerator ...I also replanted a part of the plant that looked like it had some life in it, not sure if that will work or not. I guess if the greenery grows it will.....but the 2 big round planters worked great for me.

potatoes in a can

Thanks for that feed back I was considering the can method for fall. I harvested mine from the garden and got 43. I was happy with that but had hoped for more.

Growing Potatoes in a Trash Can

I tried this and planted 5 eyes in the can just like the video shows. The potatoes grew fast and soon I had the can full of soil and vines. Last week the vines started to turn yellow and dry. My husband harvesed the potatoes we had planted the same day in the garden and I harvested the ones I planted in the can. My husband had many more potatoes than I did. I only had about 5 potatoes in the very bottom of the can. Was not worth my time or energy to plant them this way. Was very dissapointed. Will not do that again.


Botanical Name: 

Solanum tuberosum

Plant Type: 

Sun Exposure: 

Soil Type: 

Soil pH: 

Hardiness Zone: 

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