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Growing Potatoes

Growing Potatoes

German Butterball Potato



Potatoes are popular vegetables grown for their nutritious underground tubers. There are two types of potatoes, common potatoes (also called Irish potato) and sweet potatoes. For more information on growing sweet potatoes, see our article on Growing Sweet Potatoes.

Potato varieties vary by season, color, texture, use, and storage life. The main types of potatoes are:

  • Red Skinned – These potato varieties have thin skin and white flesh. These tubers are all around varieties that can be used for almost any purpose. Excellent for frying and potato salad. Examples include Red Norland and Red Pontiac.
  • Russeted – have a dry and fluffy texture when cooked, and are commonly used for baking and mashed potatoes. An example is Gold Rush.
  • Yellow Fleshed – have a flesh color ranging from light to dark yellow. They generally have a creamy and moist texture great for baking, roasting, and mashed potatoes. Examples include German Butterball, Pinto Gold, Redgold, and Yukon Gold.
  • White Fleshed – have thin skin and a sweet, mild flavor ideal for mashed potatoes, grilling, and baking. Examples include Superior and Kennebec.
  • Fingerling - early maturing types that produce elongated tubers with a firm, dry texture. An example includes Fingerling. Sometimes called salad potatoes.
  • Novelty – novelty varieties include those with unusual colored skins and/or flesh. Examples include Magic Molly, with purple skin and flesh, and Purple Viking, with purple skin and white flesh.

How To Plant

Potatoes benefit from being planted in a well-drained soil amended with compost, composted manure, or other types of organic matter before planting. Plant potatoes once soil temperature reaches 50º F.

The most common method for planting potatoes is to dig a trench 6 to 8 inches deep and plant seed potato pieces 12 to 15 inches apart and rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Cover seed pieces with 2 to 3 inches of soil and gradually fill trenches as plants grow, ensuring that at least a few inches of vines remain above the soil surface.


For full sun. Irish Potato prefers a cool climate and fertile, well-drained, loose soil with a slightly acidic pH (5.5 to 6.0). To ensure good tuber production, "hill" the potatoes when plants are 8 to 10 inches tall by mounding the soil 3 to 6 inches high and out 12 to 15 inches from the stems. Be careful to avoid damaging the roots, which may extend 8 to 12 inches from the plants. Any tubers not completely covered by soil will turn green and become inedible, so hilling helps to protect the tubers from greening.

Fertilizer Recommendations

Potatoes are a moderate feeders that benefits from regular fertilization. Use full rates of Jung Potato Food 15-15-15,  ALGOplus All Purpose 6-6-6 liquid fertilizer, or Neptune Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 2-3-1

Common Problems

Potatoes are usually not difficult to grow, but can suffer from some pest and disease problems. Potatoes may be attacked by leafhoppers or wireworms, and Colorado Potato beetle can cause severe damage. Common scab can be a problem if soil pH is above 6.0, and late blight disease can occur. Use Bonide Fung-onil fungicide or Serenade organic fungicide to prevent late blight infection. Use Colorado Potato Beetle Beater to control Colorado potato beetle and other insect pests. 

Alternative Products

Other crops with edible tubers are Jerusalem artichoke and sweet potato.

Product Recommendations

Use Potato Tubs to grow potatoes on patios or balconies or in gardens with limited space.

Potato Facts

The potato is related to tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. It is native to southern Peru and northwestern Bolivia. 


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Growing Tips