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Growing Potatoes

The incredible potato! Nutritious, low in calories, adaptable, and affordable - a staple food in many countries and is always being selected for newer and better varieties.

Potatoes are important to the self-sufficient gardener and the gourmet gardener. Easy to grow, highly nutritious and there is a variety for every use in the kitchen.

When choosing a potato variety to grow consider the following traits: maturity date, yield, size and uniformity of tubers, storage, taste, and intended use - whether for boiling, baking, or making chips or French fries.

Tubers with medium dry-matter content are best suited for boiling, although many are moist enough to be suitable for baking as well.

Tubers with high dry-matter content are better for baking, chips, and French fries. They will fall apart if boiled without their skins, though they can be boiled in their skins or carefully steamed. The higher the dry matter content, the more mealy and drier tasting is the tuber.

There are many different potato varieties, each with their own combination of traits.

The main difference between red and white potatoes is that red potatoes are the light red colour-skinned potatoes that are less starchy and sugarier whereas white potatoes are the brown colour-skinned potatoes that are starchy. Red potatoes are medium in size and they are better in salads, chowders, and soups.

Tip 1

For Urban Gardeners:

Potatoes are tolerant of cool soils and moderate frosts. Minimum soil temperature at planting time should be 6°C. Plants will emerge about 2-3 weeks after planting.

Tip 2

When to plant:

Potatoes are tolerant of cool soils and moderate frosts. Minimum soil temperature at planting time should be 6°C. Plants will emerge about 2-3 weeks after planting.

Tip 3


You can or course plant the tuber whole, or cut your tubers so there are AT LEAST there are two eyes on each piece. As soon as you get the potatoes home, expose them to light so that they will turn green. They will turn in to a hard seed piece with short green spikes. This process should help keep the seed piece retain its energy. If you want to get them planted earlier, spread black plastic on the ground to warm it up. The ground should be at least 52 degrees F before planting.

Tip 4


Set tubers approximately 10cm - 4″ deep, and 30cm or a foot apart. Rows should be at least two feet apart.

Tip 5


Plant in well-drained, loamy soil. Organic matter in the soil is preferred, but potatoes are not overly fussy. Never apply lime or plant in an area treated with lime. Once planted water, but do not irrigate until sprouts have emerged unless it is far too dry. Also, water during flowering. When the above-ground portion of the plant is 30cm or a foot tall, "hill up" soil 15cm or half a foot around the plants. Hill your potatoes by adding more soil up to the leaves. Do this throughout the season.

Tip 6


Potatoes or simply young potatoes can be harvested about 8 weeks after planting. Potatoes grown for late summer and fall can be harvested when tubers are full size or when foliage begins to die. Potatoes that you have grown for storage and winter use, harvest after vines have died back. For better storage leave the potatoes in the ground up to 2 weeks. This will allow firming of their skins for storage.

Tip 7


Optimum storage conditions are a dark location 4-5º C (39-41ºF) and 90% relative humidity. Paper sacks stored in a garage will suffice, but of course they cannot freeze! Check often and remove any that are starting to go soft. Remember that the potato is a living organism and needs air to store well. Any variety will store well in these conditions. If you can't store potatoes as mentioned above, pick potatoes which have a long dormancy.

Tip 8

Companion Planting:

Try planting Bush beans, carrots, celery, corn, garlic, marigolds, onions, and peas all do well planted near potatoes. Avoid planting potatoes near asparagus, cucumber, kohlrabi, melons, parsnips, rutabaga, squash, sunflower, and turnips.

Tip 9


Common Potato Scab

Scab is usually a rough circular, raised, tan to brown lesion on the skin of the potato. Potato tubers harvested from wet soil often have white, enlarged lenticels. People sometimes get this confused with scab.
potato scab

The scab pathogen (organisms) is found in every soil everywhere. It survives in the soil indefinitely once the soil is contaminated. Common scab seems to be most severe in soils above ph 5.5. Scab can survive in soil on decaying plant debris, in old feedlots, or in fields that have been spread heavily with manure. Scab can be transported by implements or by wind and water. You may find common scab on the beet, radish, rutabaga, turnip, carrot, and parsnip. Scab is more severe in potatoes that develop in warm, dry soils. Wet soils slow down the activity of the pathogens. Course-textured soils that dry quickly are more susceptible to scab than are fine-textured soils.

Planting potatoes in a 3–4-year rotation with alfalfa, rye, and soybeans is good. This may be hard to do in a small plot. The soil should be kept at a level of slightly below ph 5.5. The incidence of scab may be reduced by applications of sulphur or acid-forming fertilizers, such as ammonium sulphate, which lower the ph of the soil. There are reports that Manganese applications have limited the severity of common scab without lowering the ph of the soil.

Correct timing of watering can help reduce the severity of scab. Pull a bit of dirt away from the potato plant and look for little hooks on the roots. These hooks are the start of the tuber. At this stage and till harvest you need to maintain 80-90% of available soil water. Watering in the early morning is best to give the plant tops a chance to dry. Having plant foliage wet for too long may introduce late blight and stem rot. Drip irrigation would be the best way to water potato plants as the tops would stay dry.

Rotating with millet and oats has in some instances reduced common scab. Plowed down legumes such as red clover, encourages scab. Avoid using fresh manure. It should be composted.

Planting scab-free potatoes may help as well. It has been our experience that planting a scabby seed potato does not necessarily produce scabby potatoes. We have found that keeping proper soil moisture can be very effective in controlling scab in our soils. Scab is only cosmetic and does not change the flavour of the potato. Some scab-resistant varieties are Russet Burbank, Norland, Russet, and Norkotah.

Quite a few years back, Alberta Agriculture experimented with horseradish and scab infected potatoes. I don't know all the details, but the outcome was favourable. They grew scabby potatoes in soil that tested for scab. Apparently, the potatoes harvested came out with a lot less scab.

I hope these tips help.

Here's wishing you all the best in your endeavours to grow that PERFECT POTATO.

Potato Varieties:

All Red

The all red potato is a round tuber with shallow eyes. The flesh of the potato is a light shade of gourd. The plant is medium in size. The yield can be high. The All Red potato is used for boiling and baking. It looks great in potato salads when used with the Russian blue, as well as with other white and yellow-fleshed potatoes. The All Red potatoes store well.

AC Peregrin

The AC Peregrin is red-skinned with cream coloured flesh. The plants have a thick stem with medium green leaves that are lightly pigmented. The plant has many blue-violet flowers. The tubers are oval with smooth red skin, have shallow eyes that are evenly distributed. This is a high yielding variety. Tubers grow fairly evenly. They may be boiled, mashed or roasted in the oven. They have good storability.


This potato is a late-season vegetable. It has smooth white skin and white flesh with a firm texture. You may boil, bake or steam them. You may use them for soups and salads. It is a late-season potato. They also store really well.


Bintje tubers are long, oval, and thick with smooth pale-yellow skin with light yellow flesh. The eyes are shallow. They can be high yielding and tubers store quite well. The Bintje potato is great for boiling, baking, frying and roasting.


Matures as early. Tubers are generally roundish, with two flat sides. medium-sized, smooth skin, tan to creamy white in colour. Shallow-eyed, excellent boiled whole in their skins. The variety has a high dry-matter content, making it a good baking potato as well. High yields can be expected. Harvest the tubers early to prevent oversizing. The tubers keep very well in storage. Recommended as an early potato.


Round oval potatoes with shallow to medium eyes. The skin colour is bright red and has white flesh. The plant is a spreading plant medium in size with large light violet flowers. The yield is high with a medium-specific gravity. Chieftain is resistant to late blight, common scab and stem end browning. They are good for boiling, have good colour and do not turn dark as a pre-peeled product.


A new variety of potato. It is a round yellow-skinned, yellow-fleshed potato for mid to late season. It is a great tasting potato with a higher yield than Yukon gold. Columba isn't as dry as a Yukon. They have excellent boiling, mashing and baking qualities. They also have excellent storage qualities and a medium dormancy.

French Fingerlings

This potato is very oblong and smooth. The skin is red in colour and the flesh is yellow with pinkish-red highlights. The plant does spread while the potato is oval in shape with shallow eyes. The skin is very thin, even after winter storage. French Fingerlings can be baked, boiled, roasted. They store very well.


Late-maturing, has been available for many years. A high yield of tan to creamy white-skinned, oblong tubers with shallow eyes can be expected. Medium in dry-matter content, the variety is best suited to boiling. Close spacing is recommended in the garden to prevent the tubers from over-sizing. Store well, but must be kept in total darkness; exposure to light will initiate greening.

Norgold Russet

Brown, russet-skinned variety somewhat resembles Russet Burbank, but tends to be blockier in shape and does not develop the knobby appearance characteristic of Russet Burbank. Matures, about 3 weeks earlier than Russet Burbank, the oblong tubers have very shallow eyes. High in dry-matter content, the variety is good for baking and for French fries. It is resistant to common scab but susceptible to hollow-heart. Close spacing in the garden is recommended. Expect a high yield of uniform, large tubers that will keep very well in storage.


The most commonly grown variety in western Canada. early-maturing variety (later than Carlton and Warba) produces a high yield of uniform, medium-sized potatoes- The light-red skinned tubers are round to oblong, with shallow to medium-deep eyes. Medium in dry-matter content, the tuber is suitable for baking; the baked potatoes are moist. The tubers are most often boiled. They are susceptible to darkening after they are baked or boiled. The tubers are fairly resistant to common scab and keep well in storage.


Late-maturing variety - red-skinned, deep eyes. medium dry-matter content, the tubers are most suitable for boiling. It has some resistance to drought, but none to common scab. It produces a very high yield of large tubers with a fairly short storage life.

Purple Viking

Round and oblong with shallow eyes. It stores very well. It does not discolour after cooking. Purple Viking is common scab resistant. It is excellent for boiling and baking. The flesh is extremely white. The yield is variable but tubers can get very large. They store very well.

Red Viking

Rave white flesh. They are a mid-season potato and are a round oblong tuber with shallow eyes. Viking potatoes have a high yield. they have excellent boiling and baking qualities. They darken less than the Norland variety when cooking. Viking has excellent storage qualities. The Vikings are the same potato as the purple Viking without the purple skin.

Russet Burbank (Netted Gem)

Very old, late-maturing variety (second in production in western Canada, with Norland taking first place). The brown, russet-skinned tubers are oblong, with shallow eyes - vary greatly in shape and size, knobbiness is a common problem with this variety. High in dry-matter content, excellent for baking and good for chips. (They are used commercially for French fries). Yields are medium to good, and the tubers store very well.

Russet Norkotah

A potato with dark netted skin and white flesh. The Russet Norkotah potato plants are medium in size with white flowers. The tubers are uniform in size with shallow eyes. The yield may vary. They have good resistance to common scab and hollow heart.

Russian Blue

A Russian Blue potato is an oblong tuber with shallow eyes. The flesh has the colours purple and white blended together, Its skin is purple and it is mid to late season potato. After the potato has been boiled or baked, the colour inside the potato turns completely purplish-blue. It makes for colourful potato salad and mashed potatoes when used with white-fleshed potatoes. The Russian Blue potato is scab and hollow-heart resistant and has a very long dormancy. It has excellent storage quality. TRY THEM! I'm sure you'll find them interesting.


A Red skinned potato that is gaining more popularity against the Norland variety every year. Sangre has super white flesh and is oval to oblong with shallow eyes. Sangre has excellent baking and boiling qualities. The Sangre potato will not discolour when boiling. I believe it is the sweetest potato next to the Pontiac variety. Its dormancy is very long and performs excellently in storage. Sangre has high yield and is resistant to common scab and hollow heart. The Sangre varieties parentage derives from the Viking potato and variety called A6356-9. Sangre and Viking are very much alike.


The Shepody potato is a long, white potato with white flower plant, developed for the commercial French fry. It is a mid to late season potato. It has white skin, white flesh and shallow eyes. Their qualities make them good for boiling, mashing and of course, homemade French fries.


The Snowden potato is a round, oval tuber with shallow eyes. They can have a high yield. High specific gravity, good storage with medium dormant. They are an excellent chipping potato, roasted, boiling, baking.


Dark-red variety. Tubers are large and oblong, with shallow eyes, With a medium dry matter content, they are excellent for boiling and produce moist baked potatoes, Viking will not darken after cooking, Although it is considered a mid-season maturing variety, Viking sets its tubers early and should be harvested early (shortly after Norland). Only a few tubers set in each hill, but because of their large size, yields are high. Close planting is recommended to prevent oversizing and the development of growth cracks. Storage life is good (same as Norland).


Has been around for a long time, Warba has blocky tubers, with tan to creamy white skins and deep eyes that are pink to red. (A Warba variety with red skin (Red Warba) is also available). Producing a big yield of uniform, medium-sized tubers, Warba is an early-maturing variety (same time as Carlton). Although high in dry-matter content, the tubers are best suitable for boiling in their skins. The tubers are susceptible to common scab. They can be stored for a long period.

Yukon Gold

Early- to mid-maturing and produces round, firm, tubers of medium size, with tall to creamy white skins. The eyes are very shallow and light pink, and the flesh is yellow. High in dry-matter content, the tubers are excellent for baking and good for chips. Yukon Gold has some resistance to common scab. Its storage life is relatively short.



  • Yellow fleshed
  • Small gourmet potatoes
  • Great for containers
  • Delicious in salads

Purple Magic

  • Stunning purple
  • Good container variety
  • Great for chips
  • Colourful potato salads


  • High yielding yellow
  • Great garden variety
  • Large, early harvest
  • Mashed and boiled


  • Large yellow fleshed
  • Early maturing
  • Great garden variety
  • Good for mashing and boiling


  • Round baby potatoes
  • Good for containers
  • White fleshed
  • Oven roasted or boiled

Alaska bloom

  • Very high yielding round type
  • creamy colour, light texture
  • use for scalloped and boiled potato

Autumn Rose

  • Red skin, white fleshed
  • Early harvest
  • Great scab resistance variety
  • Use of mashing and baking

Rande's Golden Gem

  • Artistic skin finish
  • Good garden variety
  • High-set variety
  • Rich tastes and texture


  • High-set baby potato variety
  • Excellent for containers
  • Gourmet taste and texture
  • Oven roasting, boiling and salads

Red Emmalie

  • Fingerling variety
  • Pink fleshed
  • Slightly mealy cooking texture
  • Use for roasting, pink potato salads and baking

Snow finger

  • Fingerling powerhouse
  • Excellent container variety
  • Nutty taste and texture
  • Oven roasting, salads and boiling

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