Mid-April is a good time for planting potatoes. Even though we may be still 3-4 weeks away from the last frost, the planted potatoes will slowly emerge from the soil during this time in a frost hardy manner, giving them a good start to the season.
Potatoes used for seed need to have an ‘eye’ or a bud. This ‘eye’ will grow into the new plant. You can cut up potatoes and plant the pieces, but make sure each piece has at least one ‘eye’. Our seed potatoes, red chieftains and Yukon gold, sat out at room temperature for the past month so that these ‘eyes’ could start growing ahead of time. We will also be planting a few varieties of the fingerling potatoes.
We like to plant our potatoes in the bottom of a long ditch filled with compost, with each piece about 12″ apart. They need lots of room. As the potatoes grow, we will begin to fill in the ditch in mid-June, and then even pile more compost around the stems in mid-July. This helps the plants produce even more potatoes.
You can harvest the first ‘new potatoes’ some time in July. A good indicator when the first new potatoes are ready is when the first flowers begin to show up on the plant tops. Dig in carefully from the side and remove some new potatoes without damaging the rest of the plant, and it will keep producing more potatoes for fall harvest. With your new potatoes, get out the frying pan, some butter, a little thyme and parsley, get cooking and enjoy!!