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Tips for Growing Potatoes: No-Dig Potatoes, Planting to Harvest

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No Dig Potatoes are one of my favorite garden vegetables to grow! Growing potatoes does not have to involve back-breaking work. If you want to add potatoes to your garden without all the digging, follow this no-dig growing method! It’s my favorite way to grow potatoes.

planting seed potatoes

Tips for Growing Potatoes: No-Dig Potaotes, Planting to Harvest

Growing Potatoes the No-Dig Method

Potatoes are one of my very favorite crops to grow not only because I think they’re pretty easy to grow, but also because I can control how they grow. Conventionally grown potatoes contain a lot of pesticide residue according to the Environmental Working Group Dirty 12 / Clean 15 List.

I try to organically grow as many of the “dirty” foods as possible. Organic potatoes used to be hard to find in my area, which is why I started growing them initially. They’re easier to find now, but I can save a lot of money by growing my own potatoes. So I do!

But beyond that, potatoes are just awesome! I think they are a very pretty plant and digging them up in the fall is like going on a treasure hunt. It’s always fun to see what’s down there, buried in the dirt. {Yes, I know I am a little weird…} But really, I just love to eat potatoes!! So let’s get started growing potatoes. It’s really not hard.

flowering potato plant

How to Grow Garden Vegetables Series

What to learn how to grow all the garden vegetables? Check out my How to Grow Series and learn to garden like a champ! More posts coming soon!

When to Plant Potatoes

Potatoes are one of the early spring crops you can plant. Depending on your garden zone, many places recommend to plant potatoes by St. Patrick’s Day, but this is a little bit early in my zone 5b garden. In my zone 5 b garden in Iowa, it’s common to plant potatoes in early to mid April, later in April for people living in northern Iowa.

Soil temperature is important for root development in your potato plants. Optimum soil temperature for planting potatoes should be around 59 – 68 F. You don’t want the soil to be too cold or wet or your sees will rot instead of grow.

This means, potatoes should be planted before the last frost. Don’t worry because they can tolerate a light frost (as long as they’re still small) and it does take a while before the tubers start to develop leaves.

How Late Can You Plant Potatoes

The growing season for potatoes is usually between 90 to 120 days, depending on the variety you choose. With a first frost date of mid October in my garden zone, it would be possible to plant a quick growing variety in early summer and at least be able to harvest new potatoes. 

However, potatoes won’t develop strong roots if the soil is too hot. So it’s better to plant potatoes earlier in the growing season when the ground is still relatively cool.


How to Plant Seed Potatoes Using the No-Dig Method

Potatoes can be planted early in the spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. Make sure the ground is not too wet and that the ground temperature is above 45 degrees. Potatoes will not sprout if the ground is too cold, and a really wet soil can cause the potatoes to rot before they grow.

The ISU Extension Office advocates planting seed potatoes 3-4 inches under ground, and according to folklore, they should be planted on Good Friday in my zone, Zone 5. I don’t know about you, but digging a 3-4″ trench and covering potatoes with that many inches of soil sounds like an awful lot of work I’d rather not do.

potato patch in June

Luckily, you don’t have to dig that much to plant potatoes! The Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening advocates a “no-dig” approach. I love the no-dig approach because it reduces time it takes to plant, makes back breaking digging unnecessary, reduces loss of moisture, and results in fewer weeds being brought to the surface. I’ve been planting potatoes using this method for about 8 years now and love how easy it is to grow potatoes.


To plant using the no-dig method, all I do is hoe up a very shallow trench (generally only ½ to 1 inches deep, put in the cut and cured seed potatoes (eyes facing up), cover with rich soil. 

Potatoes should be planted in high quality garden soil 12- 18 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. I put down composted chicken manure and bedding before digging my shallow trenches and planting my seed potatoes.

Once the plants are a few inches tall, mulch heavily. As the growing season continues, you’ll create little hills for your potato plants to make sure the potatoes stay covered. I normally use free wood chips as mulch, but straw works very nicely too.

Potatoes do well in all types of soil, but they prefer well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. A soil pH of 5.3 to 6.0 is ideal for potatoes.

cut potato seeds for planting

Before you plant the seed potatoes, make sure to prepare them for planting. Letting the seed potatoes crust over for a couple of days helps prevent them from rotting in cold, wet ground. Read more about preparing seed potatoes for planting here.


What kind of seed potatoes to grow

It’s important to buy seed potatoes from a reputable store like Seed Savers Exchange. Conventionally grown potatoes that you buy to eat are treated to keep them from sprouting too quickly so planting them is generally not an option. 

You can save your own potatoes from year to year, but make sure to choose the biggest and best disease-free potatoes to use as seeds. I generally grow a mix of potato varieties – choosing varieties that store well, early varieties, and mid season varieties. My favorite type of potatoes are:

  • Red Norland – early season potato that matures in 90 days
  • Yukon Gold – mid season potato that matures in 100 days
  • Kennebec – late season varieties that matures in 110 days
  • Purple Majesty
  • German Butterball
  • All Blue

Once the potatoes start to grow, replenish the mulch as necessary to keep them covered. The Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening recommends covering the mulch with grass clippings once the plants are big enough to meet across the rows.

Can you eat green potatoes?

Lots of people wonder if it’s safe to eat green potatoes. If your potatoes are only slightly green, peel them to remove the solanine. If they are really green, it’s best not to eat them. 
Covering potatoes with several inches of mulch also encourages birds to visit. You want the birds to visit to help control pests!

How Long does it take to Grow Potatoes

Potatoes take anywhere from 90-120 days to mature. Make sure to read the information included with your seed potatoes and note this information in your garden notebook. Noting the harvest time however, will give you an idea of when to begin looking forward to potatoes.

Since potatoes should be left in the ground for two to three weeks after the plants die back, it’s pretty obvious when it’s time to harvest. Pay attention 

What are good companion plants for potatoes?

Companion plants are great to add all around the garden. Specific herbs, flowers, and other vegetables can help potato plants grow better, keep away pests, and make your garden more productive.

Companion plants I love to plant near my potatoes include:

  • Beans – to help fix nitrogen in the soil
  • Cabbage – their shallow roots won’t compete with the potatoes
  • Marigolds – repel colorado potato beetle
  • Nasturtiums – because they ATTRACT potato beetles, nasturtiums are a useful trap crop to plant away from potatoes so harmful beetles will ignore your potato plants!

Here’s what you need to know to keep your potatoes safe from colorado potato beetles!

There are also a few plants you should NOT grow near potatoes – sunflowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, turnips, and pumpkins. They can hurt your potato crop, so keep these plants away!

how to grow potatoes

When are potatoes ready for harvest? 

Potatoes can be harvested a couple different times. If you’d like to harvest new potatoes, small potatoes with a thin skin, you can do so two to three weeks after the plants have finished flowering. The pretty white or pink flowers the plants set on indicate that potatoes are starting to form. Two to three weeks after the plants flower, carefully dig in the soil and remove a few golf ball sized potatoes. If you remove them without disturbing the plant, it will continue to produce more potatoes for harvesting later in the season.

If you plan to store potatoes over winter, wait until after the plants die back before digging them. Dig them two to three weeks after the vines die back on a dry day during dry weather if possible. 

If the temperature is below 80 degrees, let the potatoes cure in the field for two to three dry days. Curing matures the skins and helps them last longer in storage. If the weather is going to be wet or it’s over 80 degrees, cure them in a cool, covered area where they will stay dry.

If you liked this post on growing potatoes, make sure to read these posts too:

Preparing seed potatoes for planting

200 pounds of potatoes each year

How to kill the Colorado Potato Beetle Organically

How to store garden seeds 

Did you know I wrote my first book? You will love my new book – part homesteading tutorial and part cookbook. If you want to take the next step toward self-sufficiency, learn how to raise your own chickens for meat! Or if raising chickens for meat isn’t for you, you can also learn how to utilize the entire chicken in your kitchen to save you money and help your family be a little bit greener!

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankMalia says

    You have some amazing tips and recipes, I wanted to share this one with you that my daughter brought home from school for “Energy Bars”
    1 c. brown sugar (either light or dark, have even used 1/2 sugar and 1/2 molasses-love the flavor)
    1 c. vegetable oil ( I used 1/2 c. olive oil and 1/2 cup all natural applesauce)
    2 eggs
    2 c. oats (I have used both old fashioned and steel cut)
    1 1/2 c. flour (I use whatever flour I have on hand; white, wheat, oat, bran)
    1 c. raisins (either yellow or purple raisins I dehydrate myself)
    1 c. peanuts (I use shelled peanuts that my girls shuck from the shells of bulk peanuts-what a mess that can make!)
    1 c. coconut (Can use the store bought stuff, but a home dried coconut tastes WAY better!)
    1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 1/2 tsp. groung cloves
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 tsp. salt (You can leave this out of the nuts you choose to use are alreadly salted)

    Honey/Agave Glaze
    1/4 c. honey or agave nectar
    2 T. unsalted butter (don’t need the extra salt, and don’t use margarine – it has too much water in it, along with other icky stuff)
    Warm slowly in microwave over 1/4 power until butter melts into the honey/agave nectar and stir.

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 11″x 17″ pan (or 2 smaller pans if that is what you have-to make them as thick or thin as you want-thin are crispier, thick are chewier) Mix brown sugar, oil (and applesauce) and eggs until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread mix into pan. (This is kind of like spreading out rice krispie treats.. very sticky and make sure you keep your hands damp with a little water so it doesn’t stick) Bake until the center is set, but not firm (around 16-22 minutes-watch them close at the 15 minute mark depending on your oven). Remove from over and let cool for 15 minutes. Drizzle honey/agave mixture over bars, spreading around with a spatula. Let cool completely. Cut into bars and wrap individually in plastic wrap, storing in the refridgerator. Can be frozen for up to 6 months.

    The thing I like most about this recipe is the flexibility you have. You can change up the raisins, peanuts, coconut and seasonings and make any type of granola bar you want. I have used light and dark brown sugar, and even molasses to give a new flavor. And ground flax seed is my secret weapon for healthy fats and protein. I have added a splash (1/2 tsp) of vanilla or almond extract as well. I am experimenting now with rolling the mixture into balls (a bite or 2) and baking them for 1/2 the time, then drizzling melted chocolate and peanut butter chips over them. I dehydrate a lot of fruits, only because their flavor only intensifies during drying and they rehydrate quickly during the cooking/baking process.

    I hope you find this recipe helpful and fun, because me and my girls love planning our next recipe combination out.

    In the world of busy lives and busy kids, it love knowing that while they are munching down on what to them is a “treat”, to me is a long-carb burning, low fat, heart healthy snack that is totally mobile. (And let me tell you just how yummy these are to warm up in the microwave and have with yogurt….Ahhhhh!)

  2. blankmichelle says

    Wow that’s a lot of potatoes. Mine have started to come up in my little patch. I am going to try to grow trash can potatoes again this year. Last year they didn’t do to well.

  3. blankmjskit says

    Looks like family fun! I’ve always wanted to plant potatoes and this looks really easy. I don’t need near the potatoes that you need, but I want some. I have a perfect little bed that I could plant them in and maybe have a few potatoes for the fall. Thanks for the tips!

    • blankMichelle says

      Hi Jill, Sorry for the delayed response. I focus more on how many eyes are in each piece. Some big potatoes are cut into 3rds or 4ths if they have a lot of good eyes. Some smaller ones are cut in 1/2. Some aren’t cut at all. Pay attention to eyes, and you should be ok! 🙂

  4. blankjessi says

    I’m a noob when it comes to growing potatoes. I have researched different techniques on how to do it, but have not tried yet since I always lived with roommates with little to no yard. I was just wondering for the future how did the potatoe plants turn out? Do you have other posts or pictures? Did you calculate your results?


  5. blankGail Smith says

    Hi. Let me get this straight. You dug the row, placed the potatoes, did not cover them with dirt but did cover them with mulch. You also continued coveting them with mulch until they were ready to be harvested? Is this right? I shared a garden area with a few other people this year but I think growing my potatoes (dig, cover with dirt, water, harvest), next to someone else’s hollyhocks really produced a small yield of potatoes. Please let me know if I described your planting method correctly. Anxious to try in next summer. Have a great week. I so love your site!!

    • blankMichelle Marine says

      Hi Gail, so I just trench a very shallow hole with my hoe. Then I add the potatoes, cut side down, then I cover them with a little bit of dirt and then a bunch of straw. Keep adding straw as they grow so the potatoes don’t become exposed to the sun as they grow. 🙂 Alternatively, you don’t have to put them in any kind of hole at all. Just throw them right on top of the ground and cover with straw or mulch. 🙂 Good luck!

  6. blankSayed Hasibullah SHAMS says

    Hello madam Marine,
    I am sayed Hasibullah SHAMS from Afghanistan, I am agriculture professional and earn my bachelor in Agronomy but I would like to add some points for your guide, do not slice potatoes when you are planting them hence if you slice potatoes they will be infecting by germ such as Bacteri, Virus and other daises factors.

    All the Best

    Mob# 0093772324525

  7. blankMichele Mitchell says

    Namaste’ Michelle ! The Simplify in the site name got picked up by the search engine, and no-dig potatoes ! The Simplify is something I look into, relating to vegan recipes, and the [Essene] Gospel of Peace [of Christ Jesus], Szekely, E.B. ed. [Book One], about some benefits of simple food, not all mixed up. Also, I did just get to plant some reds and some kind of Georgia white potatoes, no dig, It looks like it will grow nicely since I put in some aged wood chip and aged landscaping mulch and free friendly manures !
    Also, it is a blessing to have homeschooling back ! Good for you all ! LOVE ALL

  8. blankWynn Currie says

    I mulched with wood chips, straw bedding from stalls and old hay last year and had several nests of mice living in the potatoes and chewing on the the young growing potatoes under the soil, 🙁 Good luck and I suggest keep cats, 😉

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