Potatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables. They’re full of nutrients and can be eaten in several ways. Even better, they’re easy to grow, both in traditional gardens and in containers. If you’re a big fan of potatoes, you might be looking for a way to extend your growing season and have fresh potatoes at any time of year. In that case, you’re in the right place. In this handy guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing potatoes during winter. Just follow these simple tips, and you can get started right away.
When should you start potatoes for winter?
Your start date will depend on how harsh your winters are and how you intend to grow your potatoes. In regions with mild winters, potatoes can be grown outdoors and planted at the end of summer or the beginning of fall. However, hard freezes or heavy snow can damage or kill potatoes.
In regions with harsher winters, you should avoid growing potatoes outdoors during winter. You can grow potatoes in containers indoors or greenhouses, though. If you plan on doing this, you can start your potatoes at any time since you won’t need to worry about damage from the cold. Potatoes typically take two to four months to be ready for harvest, so consider this when choosing a start time.
Starting your potatoes off right can save you a lot of trouble in the future, and the first step to that is choosing a good variety. In general, you’ll see better results with faster-growing, earlier harvesting potatoes, such as Yukon gold or Belmondo. Some potatoes can also be harvested before they’re fully mature, called new potatoes. Belmondo and Yukon gold are good choices for this as well.
Preparing the planting site is the next step. Make sure your soil is rich in nitrogen and has decent drainage. If you’re growing your potatoes indoors, you can use a mixture of potting soil and compost as your base. For those of you who want to grow potatoes indoors or who want an easier way to harvest your potatoes, you’ll want to grow your potatoes in a bin. You can use a regular five-gallon bucket or an unused trash can or bin for this. Drill drainage holes in the base. If your bin is indoors, you’ll want to set something under it to keep the floor clean. Then simply add a layer of soil, your seed potatoes, and another two-inch layer of soil on top.
Caring for your potatoes
Once your potatoes are planted, caring for them is easy. They need plenty of sun, but indoor potatoes will do just fine with a grow light. If your potatoes are outdoors, plant them in full sun. When it comes to water, check to see if the soil is dry below the top inch. If it’s dry, it’s time to water your potatoes. Water them thoroughly since the water needs to reach a deeper depth than it would for other vegetables.
This is because potatoes are grown in a tower or mound. Whenever the potato plant begins to sprout, let it grow roughly half a foot, then add more soil on top of it until you can only see the ends of the plant. This keeps it growing upwards, with the stem that’s underground producing roots and potatoes. If you’re growing your potatoes in a bucket, continue this until your bucket is full. In general, most gardeners only add soil twice, but you can repeat the process a third or even fourth time, as long as your potato plant keeps growing.
How and when to harvest
Knowing when to harvest potatoes can be tricky, and it varies slightly by potato variety. In general, new potatoes can be harvested starting two months after planting. For a fully mature potato, the times range from two and a half months to four months. The potato varieties mentioned earlier, Yukon gold and Belmondo, take between 75 and 90 days, or two and a half to three months on average.
You can harvest your potatoes by carefully digging them out. Follow the stem of the potato plant down, brushing dirt away as you go. If you’re using a bin or bucket, you can carefully tip it over onto a tarp or garbage bag for easier sorting. However, if you do this and the potatoes aren’t ready for harvest, getting the plant back into the container is tough.
Now you’re ready to get started planting potatoes for winter. Enjoy your hot, fresh-baked potatoes or hearty winter potato soup throughout winter with this simple and effective planting method. Get started today, and you’ll have plenty of potatoes before you know it! All it takes is some soil, light, water, and your favorite type of potato.
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