Potatoes are one of the most inexpensive vegetables you can buy at your local supermarket.
They are very generous plants that are easy to grow and produce abundant harvests, and that is why a lot of people try ‘potato growing‘ at home. When growing potatoes at home, you should keep in mind that they are cool weather vegetables and are best planted in early spring.
They can be grown in potato grow bags (like these highly rated ones), in the ground, in grow pots, in plastic buckets or trash cans. It is worth noting however, that potatoes grown in containers yield small harvests.
One important question that arises amongst people growing potatoes is: how long does it take to seed potatoes and what do potatoes need to grow?
How long do potatoes take to grow?
This is a question with many answers. The time it takes potato plants to grow depends on the variety of potato you seeded and how early you grow them.If you plan on gardening outdoors for a while then getting potatoes of a certified seed variety will be a good starting point.
There are three main types of potatoes and each types has a different maturation time.
Firstly, you have the early variety of potatoes. As its name suggests, they have shorter maturation time and are usually fully grown and ready to be harvested in less than 90 days after seeding.
This makes it a good fit for people living in cool regions or for people who are looking to harvest early. The King Harry, Red Duke of York, Lady Christl, Orla and Rocket potatoes are great types of early variety potatoes.
The second early or mid-season variety of potatoes usually reach maturity in about 100 days from seeding. They are the ideal variety for people who live in warm regions. Catalina, Chieftain and French Fingerling potatoes are mid-season potatoes.
The late variety is best for people looking for larger harvest.
Potatoes in this variety usually reach maturity in about 110 days and are ideal to be grown in places with warm climates. The late variety store longer than other varieties.
You can begin to harvest potatoes in all the varieties discussed as soon as you notice large enough tuber sizes. It is not necessary that you wait for the potatoes to reach their full size.
The time from seeding to harvesting is shown below:
- Early variety – From seeding to harvesting takes around 10 weeks.
- Mid-season variety – From seeding to harvesting takes around 15 weeks.
- Late variety – From seeding to harvesting takes around 20 weeks.
Planting Early Potatoes
Potatoes like the Duke of York and Home Guard are the first early variety of potatoes. They are best planted around the end of March. However, if you are growing them in pots or buckets, you should plant them as early as late February to ensure that they mature sooner. This variety usually takes 10 weeks to mature.
Make sure you wait for about two weeks after the vines have flowered before you harvest the potatoes. These new potatoes are usually the same size as an egg.
Planting Mid-Season Potatoes
Mid-season potatoes such as the Kestrel and International Kidney potatoes usually mature a few weeks after the early potato. It usually takes about 15 weeks to reach maturity from seeding.
Ideally, they are planted from early to mid April and like the early potatoes they should not be harvested until the vines are flowered.
Planting Late Potatoes
Late potatoes are usually the last to be planted and harvested. They are usually planted around mid to late April and should be ready to be harvested in about 20 weeks, usually around September, but this varies.
They should be harvested as soon as the flowers start to wither and die. The dead vines are a sign that the tubers have reached maturity – as is the visible yellow flesh on your potatoes.
At this point, you can cut the stems down to a couple of inches above soil level. When they reach this stage, leave them for two weeks before harvesting.
How to Prevent Potato Blight
Potato blight is a fungal disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine. Potato Blight is spread through the wind and in water. Wind carries the spores of the disease from plant to plant while water can wash the spores into the soil, where it can infect other tubers. This disease is very destructive and can eat through your crops in as little as 10 days.
To reduce the chance of infection in your garden, avoid planting potatoes in warm, humid weather, especially during the late summer as it is the perfect breeding ground for blight.
Do not plant potatoes in the same patch of land without leaving an interval of at least three years to reduce the risks of infecting your plants.
Tips for Growing Potatoes
- Pre-sprout your potatoes
Pre-sprouting your potatoes can help to reduce its growing time. To do this, simply place your seed potato in a warm and well lit room for about 5 weeks before seeding the potatoes. If you do this the potatoes will be ready to harvest for about a month before the regular maturation time.
- Fertilise properly
When fertilising potatoes make sure you use half of the fertiliser when you’re seeding them and the other half should be added as the plant grows.
- Water frequently
It is important to remember that potatoes growing in pots will always need a lot of water. So make sure you water the soil as soon as it is slightly dry in the pot.
- Avoid harvesting potatoes prematurely. Before harvesting, always make sure to check the vines for flowers as that is an indication that the potatoes are maturing. If the flowers on the vines are dried, it means they are fully mature.
- If you are storing the potatoes, make sure to dry them out briefly. This helps toughen their skins and prepares them for storage. Avoid storing potatoes in polythene bags.
- Plant your potatoes 8 to 9 inches deep if you don’t want to bother with hilling the potatoes. This might cause your own potatoes to take longer to sprout, and will also make your harvest smaller.
- You can plant your potatoes two feet apart to make weeding around them easier
If you’ve gotten to this part of this article, I’m sure the amount of time it takes potatoes to grow is no longer a mystery to you. Now, it is up to you to decide how long you want to wait before tasting your potato.