How to Grow Seed Potatoes {Start to Finish}

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how to grow potatoes

Yesterday the Girl and I planted 2 bags of seed potatoes in the backyard garden. I’m not sure how many spuds we are going to plant this year, but let me tell you Bob I am excited! The Handsome Husband is Irish, and potatoes are pretty much the only thing he likes to harvest in the garden so I typically grow several different varieties.

If you’ve never grown potatoes before {or just need a little refresher course} here’s how to grow them.

purple potatoes

Brief description:  Potatoes are a starchy edible tuber.

Where to Plant Potatoes:  Plant in deep containers {old garbage cans work great}, potato towers, garden beds, and even raised beds {so long as you have at least 12 inches of depth to work with}.

seed potato chitting

Planting Seeds:  It is best to buy seed potatoes, as grocery story potatoes are usually treated to prevent sprouting–making yields a little unpredictable.  Store your seed potatoes in the fridge until you are ready to plant.  If your seed potatoes are already starting to sprout, plant them whole.

seed potatoes all blue red pontiac

Otherwise, a few days before you plant them, take them out of the fridge and cut them into 2″ chunks or cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece.  Leave them on a paper towel overnight to dry out a bit.  When planting, plant about 10-12″  deep and 10″ apart, then cover with 4″ of soil.  As the potato leaves begin to show, cover with another 4″ of soil.  Repeat the process until you have mounds about 12″ high.

Growing Tips:  Potatoes prefer cooler weather, so plant 2 weeks before the last frost in your area.   Water regularly, potatoes like it moist, but not wet.

how to grow red potatoes

How to Harvest:  When the leaves die and turn brown, it is time to harvest your taters.  Just take a shovel and turn over the dirt.  I like to start nice and wide so that I don’t puncture any of my potatoes.  If you have grown them in a container, lay out a tarp and dump the container.  Sift out your potatoes, and voila, you’re done.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!


Here are a few of my Favorite Potato recipes:

baked potato cassaroleBaked Potato Casserole

easy side dish recipes scalloped potatoesHomeStyle Scalloped Potatoes

crock pot baked potatoesCrock Pot Baked Potatoes

Interesting Fact:  In 1845, Ireland’s potato crop was devastated by a fungus.  Until then, the Irish had subsisted largely on potatoes, because they were so easy to grow and required relatively little space considering the yields.  That single fungus put into motion a devastating 10 year famine, known as the Irish Potato Famine.

Potatoes are obviously still a staple to this day, they are the world’s 4th largest crop.  They follow rice, wheat and corn.

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre - This book rocks!

Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. ~ Amazon

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  1. I am part Finnish and potatoes are staple in our families diet. Have you ever tried Yellow Finn potatoes? They are awesome! Fun little story: In the 1940′s my great grandfather smuggled Yellow Finn potatoes that he had stolen from the University of Helsinki into the country. He planted them on his farm near Montesano and began supplying restaurants all over the central puget sound with his “gourmet” yellow flesh potatoes.
    I bought two 2 1/2 pound bags of potatoes (fingerling and all blue) from Watson’s and when I weighed them at home there was a total of 8 pounds in the bags. Bonus!!

  2. Suzanne D says:

    Can I use organic potatoes for seed potatoes, since they haven’t been sprayed to keep them from sprouting? Or is there some other negative I am not aware of? Seed potatoes just seem so expensive!

    • You can give it a try. I used organic seed potatoes last year and they sprouted. However, it is best to use seed potatoes. :)

  3. Mavis, when you harvest your Potatoes you must try The Pioneer Woman CRASH HOT POTATOES!! So yummy!!

    ■12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
    ■3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    ■ Kosher Salt To Taste
    ■ Black Pepper To Taste
    ■ Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

    Preparation Instructions

    Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

    On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

    With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

    Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)

    Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

  4. If you’re planning on storing your harvested potatoes for any significant period of time, it’s a good idea to leave them in the ground for a couple of weeks after the leaves on the plants die back. That helps “cure” the skins (toughen them up) so the potatoes keep better and bruise less during harvesting and handling. I usually harvest a few right away, because I can’t wait, then leave the rest in-ground to cure.

  5. Forgot to mention that I planted organic potatoes from the grocery store one year when I missed the window of availability for seed potatoes at my local nursery. Every piece I planted sprouted, and I got a pretty nice crop, so I wouldn’t hesitate to try that again. The only down side of depending on grocery-store taters is that it limits the varieties you can grow.

  6. I am dying to try those blue potatoes!!!! I am growing potatoes for the first time this year.. I bought 5 lbs Red Soda and a couple more lbs of Yukon Gold.. I cut all of mine up into pieces with @ 2 eyes each.. i got quite a lot of seed potatoes just from that little bit! i have them growing in tubs, in a cardboard box, and in one end of my small raised bed… They are looking pretty good, except they are growing a different rates and I can’t hill up the taller ones without completely covering the shorter ones… So I’m hilling up where i can and leaving the others to grow more… Kind of a challenge..LOL! I hope they make.. i am Irish too and potatoes are pretty much my # 1 vegetable. I will probably try the blue ones next year.. It’s too late for us in south TX to plant any more potatoes now, I think..

  7. Laura Arnett says:

    Help…. If I use old garbage cans to plant potatoes, would I still plant a few- wait for leaves then add more seedlings and dirt.and so on? Also- do I need to drill drainage holes in bottom?

  8. Last fall I planted potatoes that didn’t have a chance to grow. I left them in the ground. I hope they sprout after being in the ground through winter.

  9. Mavis if you have a pressure canner try canning the extras too. They’re supposed to be awesome.

  10. I checked out the sequel book at our library; ” Maximizing your Mini Farm”. I’m enjoying it so much. Guess I should check out the first book and see what I missed.

  11. Why did my Potatoes I planted start to get lumps? Did I wait to long to harvest?

  12. Where do you buy your seed potatoes from Mavis? I would like more variety than two from the Lowes I live near.

  13. My favorite are Dakota Rose and Yukon Gold.

  14. Madam Chow says:

    All potatoes originated in the Americas. The Spaniards took them back to Europe in the 16th century, and they spread to all countries, including Ireland. I have not idea what the Irish lived on before then!

  15. I grew organic blue potatoes last year (first time to grow potatoes ever!). I saved just a couple for seed. When I checked them a couple of weeks ago I found one blue one had sprouted through the paper back I had store them in. Pretty amazing to think how much life they have in them to do that!

  16. I have two of the potato “bags” to grow in but what do you suggest using for soil – just potting soil or a mix of soil and ?

  17. Francisca says:

    Hi Mavis,
    I planted my potato seeds about two weeks ago in potato bags. This is the first time trying to grow potatoes. I have had zero growth. Is that normal and I am just impatient? I did read in your post here that I should have left them overnight after I cut them to dry out and I did not do that. I cut and planted right away? Should I call it a fail and start over before I can’t or should I give them more time?
    Thanks for your help!

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