Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

A forum for asking vegetable garden questions. Get started on a healthy garden, especially when you garden organically. Discuss the care and propagation of a vegetable garden, share your knowledge with others about growing veggies, or find out what you need to know to grow great veggies.
Post Reply
User avatar
MariaDigsGardening
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:52 am
Location: Michigan, United States (zone 4)

Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by MariaDigsGardening »

I've been wondering if it would be possible to plant potatoes in the fall, and if anyone has any experience with this. My thinking is that:
1) It's hard to store potatoes until the spring, without either eating them all :) or having them sprout.
2) Potatoes that are left behind in the garden accidentally will readily volunteer the next season and produce good plants.

There's always so much garden work in the spring, and so it would be great to be able to plant potatoes in the fall when I have more time. I experimented with this last year by cutting up potatoes and planting them in the fall. I definitely got potatoes, but I didn't pay enough attention to notice if my yields were lower.

It seems like planting cut potatoes in the fall would increase the potential for them to rot over the winter, so this year I might try to plant some smaller potatoes whole (although I don't know if planting smaller potatoes will select for small potato genes/traits). I live in Michigan, and my first frost will come any day now. We have snow on the ground from December-April, so the soil doesn't freeze during the winter. I would typically plant potatoes in May or June.

I'd love people's thoughts on this.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact:

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Gary350 »

I have planted potatoes in fall several times, I have potato plants growing in the garden now. TN first frost is about Nov 1. I make hills to keep plants out of the mud so they don't rot we get lots of rain. My plants are about 8" tall now when weather man says we should have frost I will cover the plants with storm window built into a TP shape to keep frost off for a few weeks. When we get a hard freeze plants need to be covered with 8" soil to keep potatoes in the ground from freezing. Plants on the surface will die but plants under the soil continue to grow. Jan 1st I can dig potatoes if soil is not frozen like cement. I have dug up potatoes in spring when soil is no longer frozen and had a good crop of potatoes. Potatoes will keep in a refrigerator all winter I have a refrigerator just for potatoes only. My grandparents kept their potatoes in the cellar all winter. I use to live in MI and have relatives up there we never tried to plant winter potatoes when I lived there I think they will need to be covered with 2 ft of soil to keep them from freezing. You can also plants potatoes in large 10 gallon pots or in a green house with enough heat to prevent freezing. My TN winter potatoes seem to do better than summer potatoes but I have never kept notes to know for sure if summer or winter does better. I have been in TN 41 years still never had a really good crop of potatoes like I did up north I remember getting several wheel barrel loads of potatoes from a 30 ft row of plants and putting 250 lbs of potatoes in the cellar and still have potatoes in spring.

Relatives in Cadillac MI called today, they got 1" of snow last night.
Last edited by Gary350 on Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

Taiji
Greener Thumb
Posts: 885
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:19 am
Location: Gardening in western U.P. of MI. 46+ N. lat. elev 1540. zone 3

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Taiji »

Nothing wrong with putting a few in and seeing what happens I think.

As far as freezing 2 feet down, I'm not sure if that will happen or not. Most people up here in the U.P. say that the snow insulates the ground and it doesn't necessarily freeze down that deep. One guy who gardens says he brushes away the snow and digs carrots in mid winter. The catch of course, is if it will snow soon enough. Also, up here they say if you walk on snow the insulation effect is lost, then the frost goes all the way down. Secret is to not put any weight on the snow and leave it undisturbed in that area.

(we just had our first frost here in the U.P. last nite; 29 degrees) Sorry, still need to change my personal info; am gardening in the U.P. now. Zone 3b to 4a.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by jal_ut »

Planting potatoes in the fall won't work here. The ground usually freezes 10 inches to 18 inches deep. Depends on the snow cover. Any way the taters freeze.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

User avatar
MariaDigsGardening
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:52 am
Location: Michigan, United States (zone 4)

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by MariaDigsGardening »

Thanks for the comments. This is helpful!! I am in the snow belt of the UP (near Houghton), so we do get massive snows. I have left carrots over ground it the winter and they do just fine. If the tops are at the soil surface, they are sometimes a little mushy from freeze-thaw action as the snow melts. But 1-inch down they are crunchy and perfect. Thinking about that, it seems like potatoes would be similar.

Now I wished that I'd left the last two short rows of potatoes in the ground so that I could see if they would be edible in spring. If I have a good potato year, it would be great to leave them in the ground rather than try to store them (I don't have a root cellar or a second fridge).

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact:

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Gary350 »

MariaDigsGardening wrote:Thanks for the comments. This is helpful!! I am in the snow belt of the UP (near Houghton), so we do get massive snows. I have left carrots over ground it the winter and they do just fine. If the tops are at the soil surface, they are sometimes a little mushy from freeze-thaw action as the snow melts. But 1-inch down they are crunchy and perfect. Thinking about that, it seems like potatoes would be similar.

Now I wished that I'd left the last two short rows of potatoes in the ground so that I could see if they would be edible in spring. If I have a good potato year, it would be great to leave them in the ground rather than try to store them (I don't have a root cellar or a second fridge).



You could do an experiment. Hammer a post or broom handle into the soil then dig a hole and put 1 potato in the hole. Put 10" or soil over the potato then spring dig it up see if the potato survives the cold winter. Pole is your marker so you can find it later.

If you could get an old none working refrigerator dig a hole put refrigerator in the hole so door is flush with the soil surface. You can keep food in there like a tiny cellar.

I had the same experience with carrots 20 years ago. I made good soft soil to plant a 3 ft wide 22 ft long bed of carrots. I sprinkled 2000 seeds in the carrot bed Sept 1st by Nov 1 there was a very good crop of small carrots. I covered carrots with 6" of straw a few days before the 1st hard freeze. First of May there was an unreal crop of carrots under that straw. Top edge of the carrots were soft and mushy like you said we had to cut the top end of the carrots off. Carrots were very good and sweet.

Taiji
Greener Thumb
Posts: 885
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:19 am
Location: Gardening in western U.P. of MI. 46+ N. lat. elev 1540. zone 3

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Taiji »

Oh, that's cool Maria. We just passed thru Houghton last week to visit some friends from AZ who are also here for the summer up in Eagle River. Our summer house is south of you and west in the U.P. But we're not real yoopers; we go back out west for the winter!

I did put in some garlic the other day an inch or two down then mulched with a lot of heavy weed debris. They say it will be the first thing to come up in spring.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by jal_ut »

You can dig a pit about 2 feet deep and put in your potatoes, then cover it up. They will keep until spring like this.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact:

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Gary350 »

Here are my winter potatoes growing in the upside down fish aquarium. Temperature has been down to 24 to 26 degrees at night several times and about 50 to 60 during the day. I don't recall what day or month they were planted, I think plants are a month old.

Next to the potato plants is a volunteer of some sort I have no clue what it is looks a bit like kale???

The other volunteer plant near the house between the flower pots could be dill but i am not sure?
Attachments
100_2272.JPG
100_2274.JPG
100_2273.JPG
100_2275.JPG

User avatar
MariaDigsGardening
Full Member
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:52 am
Location: Michigan, United States (zone 4)

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by MariaDigsGardening »

I love all these comments-- I do have some potatoes planted in the ground from last October, so we'll see how this experiment continues in the spring.

Gary 350-- your first volunteer plant looks like parsley to me, but it's hard to tell. Likewise, second one could be dill. It's been a few weeks, perhaps you've identified them since your last post.

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact:

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Gary350 »

We had about 2 weeks of 12 to 14 degree weather it killed the potato tops. I was worried it probably killed the plants below the soil but today I notice new tops growing where old tops froze off.
Attachments
100_2536.JPG
100_2532.JPG

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact:

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Gary350 »

Fall potatoes are doing good tops froze off and died but tops have grown back again. I think plants are 3 months old now. It will be interesting to see if this 4 month summer crop is actually 4 month when grown in winter cold weather.
Attachments
100_2713.JPG
100_2712.JPG

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
Contact:

Re: Ever try planting potatoes in fall?

Post by Gary350 »

Today I dug up the winter potatoes, it is a good thing I dug them up they were ready to harvest a month ago. Potatoes are smarter than ME they know they are a 4 month crop the new potatoes sprouted eyes and was in the process of growing more potatoes. In the past I have gotten a good crop of winter potatoes even if plants above the soil keep freezing and can not grow back. Scales show 2 lbs 1 ounce of potatoes. Potatoes with dark brown skin are the original crop grown from several potato peals. The whiter color potatoes are the 2nd crop of new potatoes that were starting to grow. I think 20 potato peals were planted sometime in Nov.
Attachments
100_3012.JPG
100_3015.JPG
100_3017.JPG

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”