How to Grow Potatoes in Winter for a Fresh Crop of Tubers

For home gardeners who love potatoes, winter doesn’t have to mean the end of fresh spuds. With the right planning and preparation, you can continue harvesting potatoes all winter long Growing potatoes in winter requires a few adjustments to your typical summer crop but is very doable even in cold climates Read on for a complete guide to cultivating potatoes through the winter months.

Choosing a Winter Variety

The first step is selecting a suitable potato variety for winter growing Look for cultivars specifically bred for late maturity and dormancy

Some top choices include:

  • Caribe: 90-100 day maturity, stores well
  • Rosa: 100-110 day maturity, pink skin & flesh
  • Yukon Gold: 80-90 day maturity, excellent flavor
  • Kennebec: 95-100 day maturity, high yielding
  • Viking: 100-110 day maturity, purple skin & white flesh

Avoid planting early season potatoes like Red Norlands or Superiors as these will lack the longevity needed for winter harvests. If unsure about a variety’s late-season capabilities, inquire with the seller before purchasing seed tubers.

Timing Your Planting

Potatoes require cool soil temperatures below 70°F for the tubers to properly form. This makes them ideal for planting in late summer to early fall when soil temps are dropping.

Aim to plant your winter crop 6-8 weeks before your average first fall frost, This gives plants enough time to become established before the cold sets in Those in warmer zones can often sow again in late fall or early winter

Staggering successive plantings every 2-3 weeks will prolong your harvest into winter. Just be sure to finish planting 1-2 months prior to your winter hard freeze for maturity.

Pre-Sprouting Seed Potatoes

You can gain a head start by pre-sprouting, or “chitting”, your seed potatoes. About 4-6 weeks before planting:

  • Select certified disease-free, properly stored seed potatoes.

  • Arrange tubers in a single layer in trays or cardboard boxes with the eyes facing up.

  • Store in a bright, 60-70°F location to initiate sprouting.

Once green sprouts are 1⁄4-1⁄2 inch long, they are ready for planting. Pre-sprouted seed establishes quicker and grows more vigorously.

Soil Preparation

Potatoes grow best in loose, fertile soil to accommodate swelling tubers. To prepare planting beds:

  • Loosen soil to a depth of 12 inches using a shovel or rototiller.

  • Work in 2-3 inches of finished compost to enrich and improve drainage.

  • Raised beds, which warm faster in spring, are ideal.

  • The final soil pH should be between 5.0-7.0. Add lime if too acidic.

Potatoes are heavy feeders so mixing in a complete organic fertilizer when planting is recommended to fuel plant growth.

Planting Your Crop

There are two basic ways to plant your potatoes – in rows or in hills.

For rows:

  • Dig a 6 inch deep trench then space seed pieces 12 inches apart in the furrow.

  • Cover with 2-3 inches of soil. Continue hilling up soil as plants grow until just tips are exposed.

For hills:

  • Dig 8 inch deep holes spaced 12-18 inches apart. Place 1-2 seed potatoes in each.

  • Cover half the depth then continue filling in as sprouts emerge until hill is level with soil.

Plant pieces should have at least 2 sprouted eyes. Larger pieces can be cut into chunks weighing 1.5-2 ounces as long as they have viable eyes.

Caring for Your Crop

  • Water thoroughly after planting and give 1-2 inches per week during growing season depending on rainfall.

  • Once sprouts emerge, scatter a balanced organic fertilizer around plants every 3-4 weeks.

  • Hill soil up around stems as they grow to boost yields. Avoid hilling once flowers appear.

  • Monitor for insect pests like potato beetles and aphids. Remove by hand or use organic sprays as needed.

  • Weed weekly to prevent competition. Use mulch to smother weeds once plants are established.

Harvesting Your Winter Crop

  • Potatoes take 100-125 days to reach full maturity from planting. Test dig around perimeter of rows/hills to monitor tuber size.

  • Ideal harvest time is after vine death when skins are firm but before heavy frosts.

  • Carefully dig with a fork lifting clumps gently. Take care not to spear potatoes.

  • Small, new potatoes can be dug earlier around 60 days after sprouting.

  • Cure freshly dug potatoes 1-2 weeks in a dark, 50°F area before long term storage.

Staggered plantings will allow for fresh potatoes all season long! Just be sure to get them out of the ground before it freezes solid.

Storing Your Winter Keepers

The key to enjoying potatoes through winter is proper storage. Follow these tips for maximum shelf life:

  • Store only blemish-free, undamaged tubers. Any nicks or cuts will hasten spoilage.

  • Maintain high humidity around 90-95% to prevent shriveling.

  • Ideal storage temperature is 38-40°F. Avoid freezing.

  • Keep potatoes in complete darkness. Light causes greening and solanine formation.

  • Check regularly and remove any rotten tubers immediately to prevent spread.

  • Sprouting is common but doesn’t affect flavor. Just rub off sprouts before cooking.

With ideal conditions, most varieties will keep 3-5 months or longer until early spring.

Growing Potatoes in Containers

Don’t have an in-ground garden? No problem! Potatoes can be successfully grown in containers with the right setup:

  • Choose a clean plastic, wood or metal container at least 15-20 inches deep with drainage holes.

  • Fill the bottom few inches with potting mix then arrange chitted seed potatoes 6 inches apart.

  • Cover tubers with another 6 inches of mix then water thoroughly.

  • Once sprouts emerge, continue adding more mix leaving just the top few inches exposed.

  • Place container in full sun. Fertilize and water as needed.

  • Harvest by dumping out entire container onto a tarp once vines deteriorate.

Avoid excess heat buildup in containers and provide support or tube containers once plants are 18 inches tall.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Growing winter potatoes comes with its own unique set of potential pitfalls. Here are some common issues and how to remedy them:

Green tubers – Caused by exposure to light. Prevent by mounding soils/mix over developing potatoes.

Hollow heart – Irregular watering can cause hollow cavities inside tubers. Maintain consistent soil moisture.

Scab – Scabby lesions caused by alkaline soils above pH 5.5. Test and amend soil pH before planting.

Early sprouting – Caused by warm soil temps or light exposure. Plant later and keep covered.

Rot – Due to disease, wet soils or damaged tubers. Avoid planting in poorly drained areas.

Enjoying Your Bountiful Winter Harvest

Once you get your winter crop schedule down, you’ll enjoy an abundance of homegrown potatoes through the colder months. Potatoes store well for months and can be prepared so many ways:

  • Baked, mashed or fried for sides
  • Hash browns or roasted potatoes for breakfast
  • Potato soups and stew to warm you up
  • Shepard’s pie or scalloped potatoes
  • Potato pancakes and latkes

With so many benefits, winter potatoes are a wonderful addition to any vegetable garden. Just be sure to share extras with family and friends!

Don’t let winter end your potato harvest early. With the right timing, preparation and care, you can be harvesting fresh new potatoes all through the colder months for your table. Just select late maturing, long storing varieties, pre-sprout your seed tubers and plant on schedule in the fall. Add in successive plantings for a continuous supply. Follow best practices for hilling, fertilizing and watering too. Before you know it, you’ll have your own cold-hardy winter potatoes!

Growing potatoes indoors in the winter?

Growing Potatoes indoors in the winter?

These are the last of the garden potatoes of 2022. Our biggest crop so far, though we didn’t actually weigh the yield.

I had these potatoes that started to sprout in December or January. So, on a lark, I thought let’s plant them. See what happens.

Turns out, it’s a thing! Growing Potatoes indoors in the winter?

You can totally grow potatoes indoors in Canada in the winter.

Why am I only hearing about this now?!

The plants shown above? Planted in early February. It got down to 30 below in December and January, so I brought the planters inside from the back yard and let them thaw for a whole week. The soil was frozen solid. They were heavy too, I might add.

I planted 5 “chits” in each planter about 3 weeks apart. The first 5 were from our garden that sprouted. Then, I planted 5 more that were store bought and started sprouting.

I have no extra lighting to give them. I have moved them around to find the sunniest spot that I can protect them from the dog. Or, rather, protect the dog from the potatoes. Which is in the office. It has a western facing window. That’s it. This brings up an important point.

You can see in the pictures, the black mesh. That worked until the plants start growing through it. You could adjust the mesh if you need too. It is working so far.

So, Growing potatoes indoors in the winter from here?….

Bloom or not, they should be ready for harvest around the first of May. I didn’t fill the pots full when I planted them originally. Now it’s the beginning of March, and I filled the top 4-6 inches of the planter with soil. Just soil that I had around mixed with some less than ideal worm compost. (When it dried, it turned into weird little rocks of compost that I can’t break up.) It’s not useful for anything. ).

We CAN GROW Potatoes in the WINTER!


Can you grow potatoes during winter?

Potatoes are a great winter-early spring crop and at this time of the year you will find seed potatoes available in local garden centers and on-line. And there’s a potato planting solution for any sized garden! They can be planted in the ground in rows or in mounds, in containers, in potato bags, or in potato towers.

What temperature is too cold to plant potatoes?

Soil temperature is the key as to when to plant seed potatoes. The minimum soil temperature to plant is 40 degrees F.

How do you winter seed potatoes?

Ideally, you should store you potatoes somewhere dark where temperatures remain between 35° and 40°F though they will still keep for several months at temperatures up to 50°F. Warmer temperatures or large fluctuations can cause potatoes to break dormancy and sprout early.

Can I grow potatoes from store-bought potatoes?

Planting Store-Bought Potatoes Fill a 5-gallon bucket or other large container with adequate drainage holes at the base with potting soil and place in a location that receives full sun. Match the number of potatoes to the size of container you are growing them in. Each potato plant needs about 2.5 gallons to grow into.

Can potatoes grow in winter?

Their ability to nuzzle underground and grow within makes them somewhat resistant to the cold, though all plants have their limits. Can you grow potatoes in winter? You can grow potatoes in winter as long as they get enough sunlight and temperatures stay above 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do you grow potatoes in winter?

Place another layer of organic material, including leaves, grass cuttings, saw dust etc. Fill in the rest of the hole with dirt, making a small hill if necessary. When it rains and snows in winter, the organic material begins to decay. As it decays it creates heat that helps the potatoes grow.

Can you grow potatoes in cold weather?

Commercial seed potato growing regions usually have cold winters that kill pests and summers with long hours of sunlight each day for optimum growth. Grow potatoes with beans, cabbage, corn, and eggplant. Avoid planting potatoes near cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, sunflowers, tomatoes, or raspberries.

When should you plant potatoes?

Grow potatoes through the summer in cool northern regions. Grow potatoes in fall, winter, and spring in hot summer southern regions. Here is your complete guide to growing potatoes. Plant potatoes as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost in spring or any time after the soil temperature warms to 40°F (4.4°C).

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