Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

Plant Potatoes in Fall

October 10th, 2012 | Posted in: Growing Vegetables

What?! Planting potatoes in the fall? Yes, indeed. For regions like Wisconsin where spring can be short and summer can quickly get hot and dry, planting potatoes in the fall just might be a better option.

Think about those “volunteer” potato sprouts you see in the spring — the ones that sprout from last year’s potato bed. Those volunteer sprouts tend to do well. They grow rapidly and vigorously in the spring and get a head start on the cutworm threat. And they establish themselves before your weeds do.

If you want to try planting potatoes in the fall, the biggest challenge you might face is finding seed potatoes in the fall. Online seed potato resources may be your best alternative.  Once you have the seed potatoes, plant them as you normally would — 30 inches apart in trenches that are about 10 inches deep.

One of the benefits of planting in fall is that you have plenty of organic material around you to amend the soil. Grab all that wonderful compost you’ve generated over the summer and add the leaves which are abundant at this time of the year — and toss about an inch of it into the trenches. Then toss another six inches on top of the potato seeds you’ve planted. This will feed your plants over the winter and into spring when potatoes are such heavy feeders.

Then, sit back and enjoy winter. Come May you should have sprouts. When those sprouts reach about six inches, start mounding soil around them. Start adding mulch around those plants when they’ve grown about another six inches – and continue to do the same. If all goes well, you should be able to harvest potatoes in June.

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