Growing your own potatoes is a fantastic experience. Once you see those large tubers coming out of the soil, you’ll know it was a totally worthwhile endeavor.
But several questions arise before you start growing those tubers:
- How long does it take to grow potatoes?
- How long before potatoes sprout?
- How long until potatoes are ready to harvest?
- How long are potatoes good for?
- And more importantly, how can you grow them faster?
Well, we have the answers to all these questions below. Keep scrolling!
How Long Does It Take to Grow Potatoes: Based on Varieties
Let’s answer this question bluntly: it takes AT LEAST 70 days.
Most potato varieties take 90 days. But some may take a bit less, while others take a lot longer.
It truly depends on what variety you’re growing. Here’s how to tell them apart:
Early Varieties – 70 to 90 days
These are the most common. Because they grow faster than other varieties, farmers use them a lot. But as a downside, they produce fewer potatoes.
Most of these varieties, however, need 90 days to grow. Just a few types grow in less time (as little as 70 days).
Among early potatoes, you’ll find:
- Irish Cobbler
- King Harry
- Red Gold
- Yukon Gold
Mid-Season Varieties – 90 to 110 days
These take a bit of time to grow but tend to produce a significant harvest. Farmers and growers alike prefer mid-season varieties because they’re also easy to grow (in warm climates).
Among these, you’ll find:
- Mona Lisa
- Purple Viking
- Red LaSoda
- Rose of France
- Yukon Gem
Late Harvest Varieties – 110 to 135 days
Those who can wait over 3 months for potatoes to be ready for harvest will prefer late-harvest varieties.
The reason is the number of potatoes they offer (often a lot more than early or mid-season varieties). Apart from that, these tend to last longer in storage. And more importantly, they taste better.
Here are some late-harvest names to consider:
- All Blue
- Bleue d’Artois
- Corne de Gatte
- Purple Peruvian
- Russet Norkotah
How to Grow Potatoes Fast: A Brief Guide
Now you have a better idea of how long different varieties take to grow.
Let’s now get into the real question: can you grow them faster?
Well, you can. But it’s not like you can make them grow 30 days faster than usual.
Having said that, here’s a set of steps that may help you out:
Choose Healthy Seed Potatoes
First and foremost, make sure the potatoes you’re growing are of HIGH QUALITY.
Organic, disease-free seeds tend to be the best ones. If you want to save even more time, pick pre-sprouted potatoes (these can grow 20 days quicker than non-sprouted ones) that are healthy.
To let healthy potatoes sprout, you can just leave them for a few weeks on your kitchen counter.
Soon enough, you’ll see the little green-to-purple eyes coming out of their skin.
Prepare the Eyes (Sprouts)
Once you have the eyes coming out of the potatoes, you should prepare them for growing.
What this means is: cut the potatoes into small pieces but leave the eyes untouched. In case you have tiny potatoes that fit whole in your hand, plant them directly.
The reason for this is that big potatoes that have several eyes also produce several stems. If you plant them all together, the plant will grow way too dense (too many stems), and the roots will compete for nutrients. Thus, you’ll have few potatoes and slow growth.
Once you’ve separated the eyes, leave the potatoes under the sun for 3 to 5 days. This cures the potatoes, keeping them from rotting.
When to Plant Potatoes?
You are now almost ready to plant the potatoes. However, when should that be?
As a general rule, you should choose a time before the last frost. That means 2 or 3 weeks before the last spring frost. Of course, this isn’t always easy to measure, so just make sure it’s before spring ends.
If you need to wait for that time, keep the seeds refrigerated (preferably in a freezer).
Where to Plant the Potatoes?
You have a better idea of when to plant potatoes. Now, WHERE should you do that?
You should avoid places that receive too much wind or are directly hit by frosts.
Also, try to keep them away from other plants. While potatoes tend to outgrow grass and weeds, it’s better to avoid them altogether.
And lastly, consider growing in containers. Large barrels and big pots always do a great job, especially in places with little to no space for cropping. For this, try using only 2 seeds per pot/container so you don’t overcrowd it.
Plant the Potatoes
With the time figured out and the place found, you can proceed with the planting.
Here are a few tips to consider:
- Keep at least 12 inches per seed to keep them from competing for nutrients.
- Plant every seed potato no deeper than 6 inches down.
- Try to keep the eyes (sprouts) looking up. These are what form the stems, so keeping them up will boost the process.
- Before covering the seeds, pour a potato fertilizer. Then proceed to cover with 2 inches of soil.
- Water the soil well after covering them.
Keep the Soil Healthy
As the potatoes start growing, you should fertilize the soil at least once. Also, add some mulch, compost, and peat moss to the top layer. This will make sure they keep receiving nutrients to produce higher yields and grow faster.
Apart from that, you should perform what’s called ‘hilling.’ The practice is exactly what it sounds like.
Potatoes grow with lateral stems. This stem sprouts in a few weeks and starts producing vine-like foliage.
The hilling is all about covering this viny stem to let it grow in darkness. You should perform this hilling once the stem gets to about 8 inches. Hill the vine halfway through. Once it reaches 8 inches again, perform the hilling a second time.
When the stem grows in darkness, it promotes more yields and keeps the plant healthier by absorbing more nutrients.
Take Care of the Potatoes
Ensuring the soil is healthy works. But you should also consider general care tips.
- Water every day at least once. Potatoes love water. But don’t let the soil get soggy. It should be lightly moist.
- Clean weeds. This is essential, especially as the plant starts to bloom. It will keep roots healthy and the potatoes are growing sustainably.
- Try to keep the potato away from the scorching sun of the summer. If you see the plant’s leaves turning yellow, take it to a shaded area (otherwise, the potatoes may grow bitter).
- Maintain the potatoes under the sun for at least 6 hours a day. Unless the sun is too intense, keep this practice until you harvest the potatoes.
How Long Until Potatoes are Ready to Harvest?
The ideal time to harvest those potatoes would be when the vines die. That means the stems on the surface start getting brown and falling down into the soil.
Another factor is that you’re already close to the fall, and the first frost is soon to happen.
And lastly, check temperatures. Potatoes grow better in environments warmer than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. When soil temperatures get lower than that, and you’re already in early fall, it’s time to get those potatoes out.
How to Harvest the Potatoes?
This is mostly about preference. The typical way to harvest potatoes is to just dig them out.
But not everyone does it this way. Some particular practices may provide other benefits.
Here are some harvesting habits and their advantages:
- Harvest all only when cool weather arrives. Leaving the potatoes in the cool ground until mid or late October when temperatures start to go lower than 40 degrees may help with storage. Potatoes may last longer this way.
- Take them out as needed by hand. You can keep the rest stored in the soil as they rarely go bad within the first couple of weeks.
- Shovel them out right away. The best practice is to get them off the soil with a shovel. Then you can store them in a cool place.
Harvesting is not a complicated process either way. Just use gloves to avoid bacteria and other contaminants from the composted soil to cause you any problem.
Apart from that, let the potatoes dry up from the soil directly under the sun after harvesting. Keep them for about 5 hours with direct sunlight, so the potatoes release the moisture. You can now store them.
How Long Before Potatoes go Bad?
Once you store the potatoes, they can last up to 5 weeks in a pantry or cabinet.
If you store them in a refrigerator, they may last up to 4 months. The refrigeration temperature should be lower than 20 degrees for this to happen.
Interestingly, you can still consume potatoes even after they start sprouting.
Having said that, you should only eat potatoes that are free of dark marks. If the insides look brown or black, that’s a sign of rotting (you should avoid consumption). Mushy textures and an intense odor are also signs of potatoes going bad.
How to Keep Potatoes Disease-Free?
Maintaining your potato plant healthy is key to growing higher yields faster. Keeping these tips in mind will help you enormously.
While caring for a potato plant seems like a no-brainer, several dangers may arise. Diseases and pests can be pretty annoying, for example.
The most common disease is potato blight. To avoid it from happening, don’t plant potatoes close to or in places where you grew nightshades before (these include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.).
And for pests, you should be aware of the potato beetle. The beetle itself doesn’t cause much trouble. It is the larvae that do. You should try to keep the beetles off the potato plant. And when you see eggs, clean them off as soon as possible from the leaves. This should keep the damage to a minimum.
Did you learn how long does it take to grow potatoes?
More importantly, did you learn how to grow them faster?
Well, now it’s time to put that knowledge to work!
Growing potatoes is one of the most nourishing activities. And what’s even better, it’s often a piece of cake (as long as you follow our advice).
So, what are you waiting for? Those potatoes won’t grow themselves!