Potatoes (Maincrop) Growing Guide

Solanum tuberosum

Potatoes (Maincrop)

Crop Rotation Group

Solanaceae (Potato and tomato family) 


Fertile, well drained soil that has not been amended with manure for at least 6 months.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant



Not usually required if plants are deeply mulched with straw, grass clippings, rotted leaves, or another organic mulch.


Single Plants: 1' 5" (45cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 1' 1" (35cm) with 2' 5" (75cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Grow from sprouting potatoes or seed potatoes, cut into chunks so that each piece has 2 growing "eyes," or sprouts. Let the cut pieces dry for a day before planting 3 inches deep.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Try different types with red, tan or purple skins, but avoid big baking potatoes, which require a long, cool season. Keep potatoes mulched to protect shallow tubers from sun, which turns them green and bitter.


When the plants begin to bloom, feel under the mulch for little new potatoes. Harvest often as the plants begin to die back. Gather potatoes on a cloudy day, and cover them to protect them from exposure to light.


Yellow-and-black Colorado potato beetles lay eggs on leaf undersides, which hatch into fat red leaf- and flower-eating larvae. Use row covers to exclude them or hand pick off.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Plant Diseases which Affect Potatoes (Maincrop)