Tips for Growing Potatoes in Your Garden

Tips for Growing Potatoes in Your Garden
Potatoes are a rewarding home crop. In our video Tricia shows how to plant and grow your own. Millions of people plant potatoes, and there are millions of ways to do it. Here are some of our favorite tips to give you a robust potato crop.

Pre-sprout Your Potatoes for a Head Start

Want to harvest potatoes a month earlier than usual? Get 4 to 5 weeks head start when you pre-sprout the seed potatoes before you plant them. Anyone who's had a potato sprout in the cupboard unexpectedly knows these tubers can be ready to grow. In fact, one of the many reasons to buy seed potatoes is that grocery store potatoes have often been treated with a sprouting preventative. The pre-sprouting process typically takes 2 to 3 weeks. Two ways we pre-sprout potatoes: * Put the potatoes in a single layer in the sun in a warm room (temperature above 60°F). Spread them out so they're not touching. OR * Let them sit in an open paper bag on a window sill. The sprouts will be green since they are exposed to the sun. According to the University of Georgia, this "greening" will not lead to inedible green potatoes. Once you have sprouts on the potatoes, go ahead and plant them according to the directions in our video and Potato Growing Guide. Handle the potatoes gently, to keep from breaking off the sprouts.

No Animal Manure

Do you have access to an nice supply of chicken manure? Save it for another crop. Animal manure, applied alone or as a component of compost, can lead to the potato disease called "scab". UMass Extension explains that the manure may carry the bacteria that causes scab.

Use Straw to Hill Potatoes

Potato tubers need to grow in the dark and our video shows how to "hill" them up by regularly adding soil on top of them as they grow. Another way to block the sunlight is to hill them up with straw. Three advantages of straw are: * Straw is lightweight and will not restrict the tubers as they grow. * There is little dirt to wash off the potatoes. * It's easy to reach in to the hill of straw and pick potatoes. Add the straw and keep it in place Hill with six inches of straw at planting and each time you see green stems coming up. Colorado State University Extension suggests that if your garden gets windy, wrap chicken wire around the potato hill to keep the straw from blowing away.


Consistent irrigation keeps the potato tubers growing steadily and minimizes cracking. Whether you're hilling with soil or straw, use drip irrigation like soaker hoses on timers to supply a regular amount of water. For more information see our Potato Growing Guide.
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Roxsand, I am not an expert on growing potatoes in your area, Phoenix. You should consult your local Master Gardeners for help with local growing conditions. The only thing I would worry about is the extreme heat and cold. Potatoes are a more cool season plant so growing in the 80s or 70s should not be a problem. Just do not allow them to freeze, by mulching (should be hilling them anyway) and protecting from frost damage.


I’m in Phoenix. I’m planning on planting in the next week or so. Our growing season is practically opposite of everyone else. I’ve never grown potatoes but it doesn’t seem like it’s impossible to grow here. We will be in the high 90’s, then 80’s but our winter temps can get quite cool. Do you have any pointers for growing potatoes in this climate? Many thanks.

RoxSand McCreary

Lisa, you can plant potatoes as soon as danger of frost has past. It is probably ok now, but make sure your soil is warm and you have good drainage or else you might just get a lot of rotten potatoes. I am unsure how long you should wait to plant after putting on animal manure. You can try it, but you do run the risk of developing scab.


I have a couple of questions. I grow garlic and lavender, but never potatoes. I’m thinking about potatoes where my garlic grew last year. I’m in zone 5/6 southern oregon. When should I plant. Is it too late to order let sprout and then plant? Also your info says not to use manure. I have last years compost Mix that has some chicken and horse manure. Actually the manure is at least 1 1/2 years since put on. Would that be a problem? I’m thinking about huckleberry gold.

Lisa Smith

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