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Overwintering Potatoes

Last year I planted some chitty potatoes in February even though it was still snowing and freezing outside because I couldn't resist the urge to get something growing. It worked out way better than I could have even imagined so this year I am going to attempt to overwinter two beds of potatoes.

To start, you need seed potatoes. I use grocery store potatoes. You can buy potatoes that are specifically for planting but honestly they are expensive and I think grocery store potatoes work better. Organic is usually your best bet when going with grocery store potatoes, but honestly I usually just use whatever is cheapest and they are not usually organic. Normally I wait until the potatoes start growing chits, but this time I am not doing that because, well, I am inpatient.

Above are some of the potatoes I am using for seed. They have just been sitting around my house and are too old too eat so they are perfect for seed potatoes. The one in the middle has a nice long chit, but the others do not and that is okay.

Some people will say you have to cut up your potatoes and let them sit before you plant them, but I prefer to plant them whole because it is just a lot easier. I have done it both ways and I get a good amount of potatoes either way.

Let's get planting!

The first thing you will want to do is dig a trench for your potatoes to grow in. I leave about 3 to 4 inches under the potatoes and want a good amount of dirt on top so there is plenty of room for the potatoes to grow.

Once your trench is dug, you want to put your potatoes in, I put them right next to each other.

Then you will cover your potatoes with dirt, and top the dirt off with some sort of insulation, I use leaves.

Since these potatoes will be grown over winter you need to protect them from the cold. You can use leaves, straw or anything else you have to keep the potatoes nice and warm and covered. Once they start growing (which will be a much slower process in the cold weather) I will keep adding more leaves, you can also add more dirt to keep them protected.

It is highly likely that the potatoes will get frostbitten and the foliage will turn from green to black, but that is normal and okay. The plant will not die from a little frost as long as the base of the plant is covered and protected.

Potatoes notoriously need a lot of water so I would check them weekly to make sure they have some moisture if it is not raining or snowing where you live.

As I mentioned before, do not be surprised if it takes a long time for these taters to grow. Since I am planting them about a month before my last frost, they will probably start to grow some but then pause when it starts snowing and freezing. They should be ready to harvest in early Spring. When they warm weather hits they should take off and be one of the first things you harvest.

So why do it if you can't eat them until spring? Well to fill that gardening void, you still have something in the ground to take care of. The biggest benefit is the early harvest. You will be harvesting potatoes when most people will be planting theirs.

Happy Gardening!


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