How to Grow Potatoes The Easy Way (No-Dig Method)


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Wondering how to grow potatoes the easy way? 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 vegetable garden without all the digging, follow this no-dig growing method! It’s my favorite way to grow potatoes.

planting seed potatoes

How to Grow Potatoes The Easy Way (No-Dig Method)

In addition to growing lettuce, brussels sprouts, and rhubarb, potatoes are one of my very favorite crops to grow. I enjoy them 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

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.

Just make sure the soil conditions are okay for digging – they shouldn’t contain too much moisture and they need to be warm enough.

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 your last frost date. 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 zone 5 garden, it would be possible to plant a quick growing variety in early summer and at least be able to harvest new potatoes before frost.

However, potatoes won’t develop strong roots if the soil is too hot so you’re taking a risk by planting later in the growing season. It’s better to plant potatoes earlier in the growing season when the ground is still relatively cool because potatoes prefer moist, cool soil.


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

How to Plant Seed Potatoes Using the No-Dig Method

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. 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), and 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 organic matter like straw works very nicely too.

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

If your soil stays consistently wet because it doesn’t drain well, you might want to consider planting your potatoes in a raised bed. You can still use this no-dig method in well-draining beds of all types.

What Kind of Seed Potatoes to Buy

It’s important to buy seed potatoes from garden centers or reputable store like Seed Savers Exchange.

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 (my absolute favorite type of potato to grow)
  • Kennebec – late season varieties that matures in 110 days
  • Purple Majesty– an early maturity potato that takes about 85-90 days to grow.
  • German Butterball – a late season potato with a long growing season. These potatoes are delicious but they take 110-135 days to reach maturity.
  • Adirondack Blue – a fun blue potato. Be aware that these end up gray after cooked. They taste find, but this look a little weird.

A common question people ask is can you grow grocery store potatoes? Well, the answer is yes you can, sometimes, but it is not recommend. Conventionally grown potatoes that you buy to eat are usually treated with sprout inhibitors. That means they might not grow well in your home vegetable garden.

Have I ever planted potatoes from my kitchen that had starting sprouting? Yes, I have. Do they grow into healthy plants and have a good yield – sometimes they do! However, your best bet at growing the best potatoes with high yields is to plant disease-free seed potatoes.

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.

How Much Water do Potatoes Need to Grow

After your seed potato pieces have sprouted, you will need to keep the potato plants well watered to insure best results and a productive harvest. Water requirements for potato plants are pretty simple. They need about 1-2 inches of water per week throughout their growing season.

One inch a week should be plenty of water, but you do want to be careful that you don’t under or over-water. Over-watering potatoes can lead to root rot and affect yield. If you water potatoes too much early in the growing season, you might notice misshapen potatoes when you harvest.

If you provide your potatoes with too little water through the growing season, you’ll notice curled leaves on your plants. Under-watering causes potato tubers to form late which may not give them enough time to grow to their potential.

A great way to make sure your potatoes get the water they need to produce the best yields in to install a drop irrigation system and track rainfall using a rain gauge. You can keep track of rainfall in my handy dandy gardening notebook that you can download for free by subscribing to my blog!

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 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.

How do you keep your potatoes from turning green?

Lots of people ask if you can eat green potatoes. If your potatoes are only slightly green, peel them to remove the green solanine (a toxin that can make people and animals sick). If they are really green, it’s best not to eat them. 
The best way to stop your potatoes from turning green is to cover them with mulch and keep them out of direct sunlight. Covering potatoes with several inches of mulch also encourages birds to visit. You want the birds to visit to help control pests! 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.

How many potatoes does an average potato plant produce?

Under the very best of conditions, one potato plant should grow five to ten potatoes. Sizes vary depending on type of potato, so make sure you read the plant description before choosing which types of potatoes to grow.

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!

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. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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