A Beginners Guide To Growing Potatoes On The Homestead

On This Episode of The Modern Homesteading Podcast, Harold and Rachel Talk About Growing Potatoes On The Homestead. Why You Should and How To Have The Most Successful Harvest.

The Modern Homesteading Podcast, Episode 201 – May 8, 2023

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We Discuss On The Podcast:

About Potatoes

  • Potatoes are part of the nightshade family with tomato, pepper, and eggplant.
  • Unlike those plants, they like cooler northern climates and do better under harsher conditions. They can be a good winter crop in warmer climates.

Why You Should Grow Potatoes

  • There are many varieties which is one of the many reasons why you should grow your own.
  • Flavor
  • Organic, better than organic

Potato Varieties

  • Different breeds mature at different rates. You can grow many varieties for flavor and storage. Early, mid and late season crops. See the link to Fedco’s great spreadsheet on this below.

Chitting Potatoes

  • What Is It? Let the tubers get some eyes on them.  But you can plant without doing this, your plants will just take a bit longer to emerge from the soil. You can get more by cutting in half if you have enough eyes.
  • How Do You Do It? Place in a bright place where they won’t frost or freeze. I use the kitchen table. Cutting: use a clean knife cut leaving one eye, ideally two per cut. Don’t cut them too small, maybe the size of an egg. I let them scab over a bit before planting.

When To Plant

  • You can plant 2-4 weeks before the last frost when the soil temp is around 45F degrees.


  • A location with 6 hours of sunlight, loose well-drained soil, slightly acidic 

How To Plant

  • Methods:
    • Trench
    • Straw
    • Containers
  • Spacing 16” -18” I squeeze a bit tighter
  • Depth- starting about 6” deep

Potato Plant Maintenance

  • Hilling: Hill any time the plants get 6” to 8” tall. I add straw as well.
  • Watering: 1-2” a week, ideally from below due to blights
  • Diseases and pests- potato beetle, blight, scab, aphids, leafhoppers, hornworms, whitefly, wireworms
  • Fertilizing- I just add compost when I hill with some added leaf litter. 
  • Crop rotation with those in this family

Harvesting Potatoes

  • When To Harvest- When the tops die back on a dry day, you can take young potatoes any time after flower, they will be small and tender
  • How To Harvest- use a fork being careful not to bruise or cut the tuber’s skin. 

Storing Potatoes

  • Cure them first, don’t wash. Cure in a dark cardboard box or bag (breathable), at 45-60 for 2 weeks. The skin will cure and thicken which makes them store longer.  
  •  I stored a single layer in cardboard berry boxes that had some airflow.  They made it until March, and I pulled them in late August/Early September.
  • They prefer dark, 38-40F, and humid 80%
  • Some varieties like the Russet store longer than others. 

Rachel Shares About Her Experiments Growing Potatoe Plants From Actual Seed

Potatoes Plants Grown From Seed


This Week’s Recommended Books

  • Harold’s Pick – The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan  https://amzn.to/42bY9vz 
  • Rachel’s Pick – Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte https://amzn.to/3oTHb6O 

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    Author, blogger, podcaster, homesteading and permaculture enthusiast. I have a passion for sharing what I learn and helping others on their journey. If you're looking for me, you'll usually find me in the garden.

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  • Rachel Jamison

    An aspiring permaculturist and urban homesteader who loves to teach and inspire others to grow where they are planted.

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