Seed potatoes planted in a trench in raised beds
Organic Gardening

How to Grow Potatoes in Raised Beds

Growing potatoes in raised beds can be a great option if you have soil that has a lot of clay and/or rock. Here are some tips, along with how we did it!

Seed Potatoes Planted in a Trench in a Raised Bed
Seed Potatoes Planted in a Trench in a Raised Bed

Our First Year Growing Potatoes

Potatoes are said to be one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the garden. This year is our first year growing potatoes and we can’t wait to see how we’ve done. Currently the potato plants are dying off, which indicates that they’re ready to be harvested. As we go about the process, I’ll be providing updates on the blog. But feel free to hop over to my Instagram page and watch!

In this post, I’ll be going over exactly how we prepped the raised beds, when and how to plant the potato seeds, where to buy potato seeds, when and how to harvest, how to cure potatoes, and how to store them.

What are Potatoes and When do They Grow

The potato – one of the most important staples for so many people throughout the world!

Potatoes are a cool weather crop that can tolerate a light frost. They can grow both during the spring and in the fall, even during colder times of those seasons. The part of the plant that we eat is the potato, which is known as a tuber, and is not the root. The leaves aren’t edible and are actually toxic.

Varieties of Potatoes

There are hundreds of types of potatoes and their time to harvest varies from variety to variety. Potatoes, like many other vegetables, are categorized as follows: early, mid-season, and late varieties.

Early varieties are harvested earlier in the growing season and reach maturity within 75 to 90 days. Midseason varieties reach maturity between 95 to 110 days. Late varieties  reach maturity between 120 to 135 days.

Examples of each type of variety:

Early Season

Dark Red Norland: has a red skin with white flesh. They’re a good variety for boiling and roasting. When they are planted closer together, they produce small “new” potatoes.

Red Gold: produces a lot of “new” potatoes and they are not recommended for long storage.

Russet Norkotah: is a variety that is great for small gardens. It’s a high-yielding crop with Russet skin and yellowish-white flesh. It’s good for boiling and baking.

Magic Molly: deep-purple tuber that matures in 95 to 100 days.


Kennebec: white, tender flesh, usually matures in about 80 days. They’re a large potato that can be used for making potato chips. It’s a fast growing plant.

Yukon Gold (early midseason): buttery, yellow flesh that matures early midseason. Early midseason is a timeframe that is between maturation of early varieties and midseason varieties. It’s a very common variety that’s used in all sorts of ways from baking to boiling, and even French fries.

Gold Rush: is another type of russet potato. It has a dry, white flesh that’s great for baking and stores well.

Late Season

Russian Banana: an heirloom fingerling potato that grows small plants but large sets of small banana-shaped tubers. They’re good for roasting, boiling, and potato salad.

Elba: are large round tubers that are high yielding that can store well. They have buff skin with white flesh and are good for boiling, roasting, baking, and potato salad.

Woman digging a trench in the raised bed in preparation of planting seed potatoes
Digging a trench in the raised bed in preparation of planting seed potatoes

What You’ll Need to Get Started with Planting

Seed Potatoes

Seed potatoes aren’t actually seeds. They are tubers that you can use to grow new potatoes that are genetically identical to the parent plant. Basically, a seed potato is a potato that is planted to produce more potatoes. Potatoes do produce flowers once they reach maturity, and do produce actual seeds. However, the flowers usually dry up and fall off the plant without putting down fruit.

Where to Get Seed Potatoes

There are a couple of places I found online where you can get potato seeds. They are usually only available at certain times of the year so you’ll have to grab them in advance. We got our seed potatoes from Burpee and opted for their Potato, All Season Collection. I ordered them in January and they shipped out in March which was the time for my area to plant them. The All Season Collection comes with 3 types of potatoes that produce tubers all season. The varieties included are Yukon Gold, Kennebec, and Red Gold.

Two other great places to get seed potatoes from are Johnny Seeds and Baker’s Creek.

What to Look for When Buying Seed Potatoes

When you’re purchasing seed potatoes check for the following:

  • Days to maturity
  • How to harvest 
  • How well they store long term (if you want to store them)
  • Certified disease free

What is Certified Disease Free?

Certified disease free is a guarantee that the seed potato does not have any disease. This is the best option to grow potatoes to have a good yield of crop and reduce the risk of disease in your garden. Potatoes can carry many types of diseases, some of which are carried through seed potatoes.

Can I just Grow Potatoes From the Supermarket?

Although there are gardeners that have been successful growing potatoes from a potato from the supermarket, it is not recommended. First, you may not know where that potato came from and there is no guarantee that the potato isn’t carrying a disease. Secondly, sometimes potatoes are sprayed with a sprout inhibitor. A sprout inhibitor prevents potatoes from sprouting for shipping and storage purposes. When a potato is harvested, it goes into a dormant state. When they are stored in cool, dark, dry places, potatoes can lie dormant for months. However, if those conditions are not met, they come out of dormancy and begin sprouting.

Light and Temperature Requirements

As with any plant, meeting the light and temperature needs are critical to having a successful crop. Potatoes need full sun.  Seed potatoes should be planted as soon as the soil becomes workable in your area. Pay particular attention to wet conditions during the spring. We were able to plant our seed potatoes in the beginning of April.

Watering Requirements

Potatoes need to be well watered and require 1 to 2 inches of water per week. They need to especially be watered when the plants are flowering.

Quality Soil, Compost, Mulch, and Fertilizer

As with all plants, quality soil should always be used. Poor quality soils can introduce disease into the garden, which we’re trying to prevent as much as possible. A poor quality soil can ruin an entire crop. Here’s what I did specifically to amend our raised beds in the fall the previous year and then again in the spring.

In preparation for planting in our raised beds, I used Coast of Maine Organic & Natural Compost Blend with Lobster & Crab in the fall, and mixed it into the soil. Next I covered the compost with straw to reduce compaction. In the spring, Black Kow manure was added and mixed into the soil. The straw was mixed to further breakdown in the soil. When it came time to plant the potatoes, I put Black Kow in the trench I dug to plant to seed potatoes. A fresh layer of straw was put down on top.

Amending the soil this way worked out so well this year! So far, we’ve had great strawberry, lettuce, and bok choy harvests following this method. I’ll provide an update as to how our potato harvest goes.

After about 1 to 1.5 months, I also added in organic phosphorus which is essential for potato yield and tuber quality.

Proper Drainage

As long as there is good soil in your raised bed, it will have proper drainage. Mulching the top of the soil reduces compaction so that it can drain well.

Potato plants sprouting
Potato plants sprouting

When and How to Plant Potatoes – Planting in Raised Beds

When you order from one of the abovementioned companies, they’ll send your seed potatoes around the time to plant for your area. Upon receiving your seed potatoes, it’s time to start planting. The appropriate time of year of 2 weeks after your last frost date. In warm climates, potatoes can be planted as a winter crop. If you want to have potatoes through fall and into the winter, opt for varieties that can be cured and store well.

Before planting them, I dug two trenches on either side of the raised bed. Each trench was dug 12 inches deep. Our raised beds are two feet wide so this was a good distance apart. Since raised beds are a smaller area to plant in, I planted them 4 to 6 inches apart. 

To plant the seed potatoes, locate the “eyes”. The “eyes” are axillary buds that grow into new plants if they are given the right conditions. Once you’ve located the eyes, place the seed potatoes in the trench with the “eyes” facing up.

Growing Potatoes and Hilling

Depending on how deep your trench is, you may have to do what’s called “hilling”. Hilling is the process of adding more soil on the top layer of soil. As the tubers grow, you don’t want them to be exposed to any sunlight and it encourages more tubers to grow. The potato flavor improves because of darkness and depth. However, since I planted my seed potatoes 12 inches down, this eliminated the need to hill.

If you’re not digging as deep as I did you should follow the below steps:

  1. Dig a trench 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide.
  2. Place the seed potato in the trench and cover with 3 to 4 inches of soil.
  3. After about 12 to 14 days, you may see sprouts growing. At this point add another 3 to 4 inches of soil. Be sure to leave some of the sprout exposed to sunlight. Hilling should be done every few weeks.

Harvesting and Curing Potatoes


There is so much excitement when you pull that first potato out of the soil. Since you can only see the plant above the ground, it’s hard to know what’s going on down below the soil. Plucking the potatoes out of the ground provides a sense of relief – you’ve successfully grown a potato.

What will be confusing is how to harvest the potatoes. In my research, it wasn’t clear about the two different harvests that can be done with your plants: the harvest of “new” potatoes and a harvest after the plant has died back of mature potatoes.

What is ‘Harvesting “New” Potatoes’?

Any potato that is harvested early in the season is considered a “new” potato. “New” potatoes have a thinner skin, higher moisture content, and a sweet flavor. They have a lower starch content compared to more mature potatoes. Additionally, “new potatoes are smaller in size. 

Carefully move the soil around the potato plant without causing too much disturbance.

Curing Potatoes

Curing potatoes is an important stage if you intend to store them for long periods of time. It’s crucial to not wash the potatoes off. If there is excess dirt, gently brush the potato. The skin may be thin/delicate at that point so be gentle. Only wash the potatoes when you intend to cook them. To cure potatoes, place them in a cool, dark place. The temperature should range between 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This cures the potato skin, or toughens it up, for long term storage. Before buying seed potatoes, check the variety to make sure it’s appropriate for long term shortage.

How to Store Potatoes

As long as potatoes are stored within the proper conditions to keep them dormant, they can last for months in storage! Potatoes shouldn’t be stored in your refrigerator. Instead provide a cool, dry, dark place to prevent spoilage. Here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t store them on the countertop and keep them out of sunlight. Keep them anywhere dark.
  2. Have a good airflow. Keep them in a crate or mesh bag (for example) to keep them well ventilated.
  3. Don’t store them next to onions.
  4. Store between 45 to 60 degrees to prevent sprouting.

Even if your potatoes wind up sprouting, as long as there are no signs of spoilage, they’re safe to eat!

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