There is nothing better than growing your own vegetables in your garden, assuming that you have all the right conditions for that. The greatest reward will be having the fruits (or in this case veggies) of your labor that you can be sure are not packed with pesticides.
If you are a beginner, I suggest that you start off with some easier tasks and work your way up to becoming an expert. For example, potatoes are fairly easy to grow. For this reason, I have decided to create a detailed guide which will answer the question how long does it take to grow potatoes, but also provide much additional information that will guarantee your success.
Choose the Right Type Of Potatoes
One thing that is sure to influence how long does it take to grow potatoes is the type you choose to plant. Depending on the type the potatoes will mature at a different time but also vary in size and shape. Look at the following table to find out more and find the best type for your climate and needs:
Type Of Potatoes
How long does it take to grow?
You can harvest them in about ninety days. Many famous varieties such as Irish Cobbler and King Harry belong to this type.
It takes a bit longer for them to mature enough for harvesting- sometimes more than one hundred days. They succeed best when grown in a warmer climate. The most famous varieties of this type are Yukon Gold and Red LaSoda which are both sure to produce a significant yield.
As the name suggests they need the most time to be ready for harvest- at least 110 days, but often longer. However, waiting for longer pays off with a greater yield. They can also be stored longer. The most prominent representatives are Butte and Kennebec.
Elongated Fingerling Potatoes
They are very interesting and sell rather fast due to their popularity. So if you want something you can sell fast at the farmer’s market, it might be a good choice. Regretfully, if you want a fast-growing type, this is not an ideal choice. Good news is that there are methods to speed up the process like pre-sprouting your seeds.
How, When and Where to Plant Potatoes
Before we get to the main question and deal with the question how long does it take to grow potatoes, I want to make sure that you do not make any mistakes when planting the potatoes or during the whole process of growing them.
Now that you have chosen the right kind of seeds you should choose an appropriate time to plant them as to give them enough time to properly mature. It would be ideal to plant your potatoes around two weeks before the final frost (if you are experienced enough to calculate that correctly). I advise you to store the seeds in your refrigerator for some time before planting as that helps them exit the dormancy and be prepared for planting.
If the summers in your area are extremely hot, and springs tend to be very short, you have to stick to the early or mid-season varieties and plant them much earlier- four weeks before the date of the final frost. The late varieties can be planted later, even as late as early summer, but you will have to let them mature to the late fall too. If the summer seasons in your areas are slightly cool, you should plant potatoes two weeks before the final frost date no matter the variety.
Choose the soil which is loose and well-drained, but also opt for a piece of land that is exposed to the sun for the most of the day as potatoes need it to thrive. Avoid places where frosting often occurs as frost can seriously damage the developing foliage. Before you plant the potatoes, enrich the soil with organic compost.
It does not matter much whether the ground is covered with old weeds or grass as potatoes tend to grow very fast and have extensive foliage which can swamp other plants out. Dig four inches deep trench and place the seed potatoes eye-side up about one foot apart.
I have even grown potatoes in a container quite successfully, so if you have limited space, I am sure you can do it too. Just make sure that the container you choose is at least one feet wide and deep and well drained. The rest of the process is easy: fill the half of the container with a mixture of high-quality compost and soil, place two seed potatoes and cover with the same mixture up to one inch from the rim.
Besides sun, potatoes love water, or to be more precise moisture. Once the tubers start forming or reach the marble size, you will have to water your plants regularly or face a reduced yield as a consequence. Rain can help out, but do not rely solely on it.
Clean the weeds and hill the plants before they start to bloom. This means that as soon as your plants grow around six inches tall, you should hoe the dirt around the base as to cover the roots that will be sticking out. This will help support your potato plants and let them grow bigger but also prevent the young plants from being sunburnt. Hilling should be done every two weeks.
Sunburnt potato plants are full of solanine - a chemical which not only makes the potatoes taste bitter but can also be toxic. These potatoes can be recognized by green color, so be sure to avoid them.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Potatoes?
We reach the final point, and the answer to the most important question how long does it take to grow potatoes. Why is this the most important question? Well, you should know when exactly you should harvest the potatoes as to achieve their best taste and flavor.
Namely, you should wait for the top of the plant to start to die, because this is the time at which the most of the starch gets stored into the potatoes, and starch is what makes them so delicious.
Other factors that will help you determine whether your potatoes are ready to be harvested are the weather conditions and soil temperature. In detail, you should dig your potatoes out before the first frost. Although some plants can survive light frost, it is better to be safe than sorry, and I would not recommend waiting for that long.
As far as the soil temperature is concerned, it should ideally stay over 45 degrees F. Measuring the soil temperature is the most secure way to determine the best time to harvest., and I wholeheartedly recommend you do it in case of any dilemma.
Before you start digging out your potatoes check a single hill to make sure they are mature enough. If they are, they will have a thick and firm skin that cannot rub off easily.
Time to Harvest!
Assuming that you have done everything right and your potatoes are ready, you should start digging them out so that you can finally admire them out in the open. It is your choice if you should dig them all at once, or take them out on an as-needed basis.
Harvesting can be a family bonding activity! Kids will enjoy it for sure. What kid does not like to dig and get the hands dirty! Moreover, imagine how happy kids will be when they get to eat something they have found in the ground and dug up on their own.
It is best to utilize a shovel (although, if you include kids they will undoubtedly prefer their hands) and pull apart all the hills before you start pulling the tubers out. When I get my potatoes out, I wash them, spread them and let them dry, and finally store them in a dark, cold and dry place. The temperature they are stored in should not exceed 40 degrees F. They should not frost either. Too much light will make them turn green.
That’s all! I hope you enjoy your potatoes!