AO Gardener Series: Potatoes Part I – Planning to Shop

The team here at AO is excited to share that we’ll be featuring some new contributors here on the GROW blog, all geared to get you inspired to grow. With the season right around the corner, we wanted to offer a resource for anyone out there who wants to go green, whether you’ve never handled a spade to being a well-versed professional, we want to share the experiences of voices from all levels of green-thumbery!

For years I didn’t grow potatoes until one day my fiancé said, “but they are so fun to grow!” which to me translated as “I’m keen to help”. And he was right, it’s a treasure hunt and like anything straight from your own garden, the flavor is incomparable.  


And while they could have gone in already here on the coast of British Columbia, you have until the end of May to plant them here. To avoid rot, you want the soil temperatures to stay above 7 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and today feels right so I’m off to the nursery and farms.

Potatoes are often sold in mesh or brown paper bags of 3, 5 or 10lbs with romantic sounding variety names that differ from the common names you purchase from the grocer or see on menus, so always ask the shopkeeper what the variety is used for. Go in with a plan for which varieties and of what quantity you need to buy.  Here is how I’m basing my choices:  

Buy only certified seed potatoes from as local a source as you can find to ensure these seed are acclimated to your growing region and of course to support your local farmers.

Seek different varieties based on early, mid or late season harvest as well as how you plan to cook them.  My goal is to source:

- ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes, great for mashing
- Fingerlings are small with a buttery dense flesh, great for steaming & roasting
- A blue potato to mix in with the fingerlings for stunning presentation
- ‘Kennebec’ variety that is THE potato for fries 


Plan ahead the amounts you need. If you are planting your potatoes 1’ apart with rows 2-3’ apart, keep in mind that each piece of potato you plant must have at least 2 eyes. So for instance, in my 4’ x 22’ box I am planting 2 long rows down the length of the box so will place 44 potato pieces in the ground. Because I want to plant 4 different varieties at equal amounts, this means I will place 11 potato pieces of each kind in the ground. As each piece needs to have 2+ eyes, I’ll look into the bags of potatoes as I buy them to be sure I have at least 22 eyes / bag. Ensure the bag is breathable and do not keep them sweating away in plastic until you can plant them as they are alive.


If you have lots of bags of seed potatoes to choose from, that potatoes with lots of eyes will produce lots of potatoes…where a potato with fewer eyes will produce less potatoes – so seek the bags that have potatoes with lots of eyes, even though you will later cut them into pieces with 2+ eyes each.  

Oh, and let me remind you potatoes are also an acid lovers so you may choose to test your soil’s pH first to start working on bringing your pH down. Could it be all the Grateful Dead music I listen to while gardening?  (Get it!?)

I’ll write more in my next post on how to plant these little wonders.  

Time to go shopping!  



OH HI!  I’M SONJA – AN OVER THE MOON INFATUATED FOOD GROWER IN BEAUTIFUL SQUAMISH BC WHICH LIES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. I LOVE TO GET DIRTY OUTSIDE WITH FUNKY TUNES AND JUST FALL INTO THE MOVING MEDITATION / AMAZING WORKOUT - ALSO KNOWN AS VEGETABLE GARDENING.



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