Red Potato

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Harvest Size: 2 to 5 inches
  • Days to Harvest: 65 to 70
  • Plant Size: 22 to 28 inches tall, 12 to 24 inches wide

Grow red potatoes for an early harvest of spuds that offer versatility in the kitchen. These oval shaped tubers have attractive pink-toned skin covering white flesh. Red potato flesh is starchy, whipping up into beautiful mashed potatoes. They also do well for baking, frying, and making homemade potato chips.

Tubers mature early and have excellent keeping quality. Because red potatoes mature so quickly, you may want to make three plantings, one month apart. Successive plantings will provide a summer-long supply of fresh potatoes for eating, along with a last harvest for winter storage.

Plant Spacing: 10 to 15 inches. Plants Per Person: 5 to 6 for fresh eating; 15 to 18 for winter storage.

Secrets to Success »

Potatoes are cool-season crops and can survive light frosts. Plant as soon as soil is workable in early spring. Potatoes need fertile, well-drained soil that’s loose and slightly acid (pH 5.8 to 6.5). Hard, compacted soil produces malformed tubers. Amend heavy clay soil by working organic matter into planting beds.

Potatoes form tubers below the soil surface. When stems reach 8 inches tall, hill soil or place straw around plants, covering half of lower stems. Repeat the process two to three weeks later. Potatoes are sensitive to dry growing conditions. Keep plants consistently moist, especially when plants flower and right after, since this is the peak time when tubers are forming.

Move potatoes to a different place in the garden each year to help limit disease and insect problems. For best success, rotate potatoes on a 3-year program, growing them in a different spot for three years in a row before cycling through the growing spots again.

Harvest and Use »

You can harvest new potatoes usually about two to three weeks after plants flower. If soil is loose enough, dig potatoes free with your hands. Otherwise, use a shovel, digging, or spading fork to loosen soil near stems.

Harvest all potatoes after vines have died. If the growing season has been rainy, wait a few days for soil to dry. It’s easier to dig potatoes in dry soil. You’ll find tubers 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface. Use a shovel, digging, or spading fork, inserting the tool 6 to 10 inches away from the plant stem. Loosen soil gently and feel around for tubers. Brush dry soil from potatoes. Don’t wash them if you plan to store them. Newly dug potatoes don’t have a tough skin. Handle tubers gently to avoid damaging and bruising them.

Curing produces a tougher skin. To cure potatoes, place in a humid spot at roughly 55 degrees F for two weeks.

If you plan to store potatoes into winter, select tubers that are firm and without soft spots.

Store in a dark room with high humidity; the temperature should be 38 to 40 degrees F. Do not refrigerate potatoes. Tubers will hold at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.

Prepare mature potatoes in any way you desire—red potatoes are truly an all-purpose spud. Flesh has a high starch content, which creates wonderful mashed potatoes. After cooking, potatoes do tend to fall apart, making them less than ideal for recipes calling for sliced or cubed potatoes. Remember to place peeled or cut potatoes in water to prevent discoloration.

Try these garden companions »

  • Herb partners for potatoes include dill, fennel, cilantro, basil, chives, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
  • Sweet peppers, tomatoes, and red onions for creating colorful soups.
  • Brussels sprouts, yellow squash, and cauliflower to savor grilled or oven-roasted vegetable dishes.

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