Winter Potatoes

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Potatoes in Grow Bag

Tail End of Potato Season

I’m growing potatoes through the winter as an experiment. They don’t look too bad in the bags in the back garden. Though the planting in the front garden got hit by a little frost and was looking pretty ragged before it hit me that I should just hill them deeper and protect them with soil until it warms a bit.

I think if I timed it right, I could have potatoes growing year round. It’s only December and January that are tricky. If I had them ready for the plants to start dying back by December anyway, the potatoes in the ground would be safe here. The ground doesn’t freeze even if we do get a little frost. Then I could get new seed potatoes in the ground in January and could easily cover the sprouts for a few weeks after they were up to keep the frost off, letting them grow up after Valentine’s Day or so.

If each planting took ~100 days between seed potatoes and potato salad, I could plant January through September. Of course, it’s tough to get seed after March or so. I would need to store the seed or save my own for the April through September plantings. And some seed potatoes, though I honestly don’t know which varieties, need to rest before they will sprout, so I can’t just immediately reuse the potatoes I’d be harvesting. I’d have to set aside seed staggered three or four months before I wanted to plant it. (I’m gonna need a spreadsheet here in a minute.)

Seed Balls forming on Potato Plants

True Seed for Potatoes

I have some Desiree seed potatoes I bought for the fall planting that I haven’t used yet and they are barely starting to sprout now that it’s January. So, saving through that part of the year clearly could work. And I might try growing some potatoes from actual seed. This plant from the 2010 summer garden bloomed and formed seed balls. I know the seed may not breed true for the variety, but it could give us a variety that we like or maybe even one that would adapt to the conditions here over the years. Several gardening authors have information available on how to do those sorts of experiments. Though I can already tell from the current potatoes growing in the front garden that we’ve got at least one variety out there that has weathered the frost better than the others. Maybe it will make seeds and give us some material to start with that already shows an advantage for my year-round potato planting scheme.

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