Image by Natalie Maynor
By Bonnie L. Grant
Raising your own crops is a fun and healthy family activity. Learning how to grow new potatoes provides you with a season long crop of fresh baby spuds and a storable crop of the tubers for after the season. Potatoes can be grown in the ground or in containers. Planting new potatoes is easy and there are only a few special care tips to keep your plants healthy.
When to Plant New Potatoes
Potatoes are best started in the cool season. Tubers form best when soil temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The two periods when to plant new potatoes are spring and summer. Plant early season potatoes in March or early April and late season crops are started in July. Early season plantings that sprout can be damaged by rogue freezes but will bounce right back as long as soils stay warm.
Planting New Potatoes
Potatoes can be started from seed or seed potatoes. Seed potatoes are recommended because they have been bred to resist disease and are certified. They will also provide you with the earliest and fullest harvest when compared to seed started plants. The methods for how to grow new potatoes varies only slightly by variety. As a general rule growing new potatoes requires well drained soils with plenty of organic matter incorporated. Growing new potatoes requires plenty of water to fuel production of the tubers.
The planting bed needs to be well tilled and amended with organic nutrients. Dig trenches 3 inches deep and 24 to 36 inches apart. Cut apart seed potatoes into sections that have at least 2 to 3 eyes or growing points. Plant the pieces 12 inches apart with the majority of the eyes facing upward. Lightly cover the pieces with soil when growing new potatoes. As they sprout add more soil to cover the green growth until it matches soil level. The trench will be filled and the potatoes are grown on until ready to harvest.
When to Harvest New Potatoes
Young tubers are sweet and tender and can be dug from near the surface of the soil where the underground stems are layered and produce the spuds. Harvest new potatoes at the end of the season with a spading fork. Dig down 4 to 6 inches around the plant and pull out the potatoes. When growing new potatoes keep in mind that the majority of the spuds will be close to the surface and your digging should be as cautious as possible to avoid damage.
Storing New Potatoes
Rinse or rub off the dirt on your tubers and allow them to dry. Store them at 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in a dry, dark room. The potatoes can be stored for several months in these conditions. Put them in a box or open container and check them frequently for rotten vegetables as rot will spread and can ruin the entire batch quickly.