Gardening · Homesteading

Late Summer Potatoes

Just because it is August 3rd doesn’t mean you cannot keep planting new crops. You still have many weeks of good warm weather filled with the sun here in the PNW. All of August and often the first 3 weeks of September.

If your kitchen or pantry has red, yellow, white, blue potatoes* that look like they are growing arms in the heat, or are turning green in a bowl….go plant them for an early fall crop.

You have time to get a quick late crop in, if you do it container style. Go find the biggest pot you own (no smaller than a 5 gallon bucket, and if you are using a bucket, drill drainage holes in the bottom). Add a little potting soil, then dump the potatoes in and cover to the top with more soil. Water heavily, and let settle. Add more soil if needed, to bring up to the top.

Park in a very sunny area, and water every day. Sunny is important as we are slowly losing light every day. The potatoes will shoot up quickly with lush leaves.

Once the leaves turn yellow and start to look like they are withering, knock the container over, and sort out your potatoes. I usually do it on a grassy area and have two buckets: One for potatoes, one for the leaves and plant material. The soil I add to our compost pile. Look carefully as you will have sometimes the tiniest baby potatoes to pick out.

Being a late crop you might have lots of “new potatoes” (meaning smaller), but you will have a tasty crop.

Rinse well outside with a hose, then I wash inside as well, and air dry on paper towels, on the counter. Store in a brown paper bag out of the light, in a cooler area (but don’t put in the refrigerator). I use our pantry for ones we will eat in a couple of weeks. If you store in a cellar, make sure it is in a rodent proof box (hardware cloth on the sides).

Never waste ugly potatoes** that turn green or start shoots. Even the most wrinkled up, dehydrated tater with shoots will grow. Just get it into dirt!

Waste not, want not.

*It’s late for Russet potatoes though. If you have a garden in the ground (not raised beds) you can plant those in the fall, to winter over to spring. Russet potatoes need space, and a longer grow time. Wintered over potatoes need to be in the actual ground, to help protect with winter freezes. Once winter is over, the potatoes shoot up early, similar to how garlic comes up in spring.

**While seed potatoes bought commercially are touted, it is fine to use grocery store potatoes to grow from. Commercial potatoes (standard grown) are treated sometimes with chlorpropham so they don’t bolt, which retards/slows down growth. Even those potatoes will eventually grow. But for best bet, use potatoes that are obviously sprouting/growing (the arms coming out say that). Or buy locally grown potatoes and use those to start from, which usually are not treated.