Early, Mid- and Late-Season Potatoes

Survey the incredible variety of spuds available for growing.

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of www.reneesgarden.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Filaree Garlic Farm/Phoebe Webb Photography

Tuber Diversity

Who doesn't love potatoes? They taste even better when you grow your own and the choices available for gardeners today extend far beyond the traditional Idaho potato to such exotic types as 'Cranberry Red' potatoes (a mid-season variety) which actually have pastel pink flesh. Renee Shepherd of Renee's Gardens says, "Potatoes are not hard to grow. If you plant them in the right season, they don't need a lot of care and they are very rewarding because you can get so many great tasting varieties."

General Ground Rules

Planting season for seed potatoes is in the spring, several weeks before the last estimated frost date. They need a sunny, weed free area where the ground is workable and not soggy.  Plant them in straight rows of shallow trenches which are 24 to 36 inches apart. 

Seasonal Terminology

There are seasonal classifications for all potatoes: early, mid and late; this refers to when the potatoes are harvested, not when they are planted. In general, early potatoes like 'Accent' could take from 60-80 days to harvest; mid-season potatoes might range between 80-95 days and late potatoes fall approximately between 95 to 130 days. But there are always exceptions to the rule such as a mid to late season potato like the 'Russet Burbank' (95 to 110 days).

Potato Wall Art

The best way to get high quality potatoes for planting is to order organic seed potatoes (pictured) from a specialty grower. "Potatoes are vegetatively propagated," says Phoebe Webb (assistant manager of Filaree Garlic Farm), "which means that the body of the vegetable is what grows a new plant with a new vegetable on it. What you'll receive are full potatoes that you can plant whole or you can cut them up. Just make sure each piece has two eyes on it."

I See Potatoes in Your Future

During the growth cycle, potato plants will emerge from the surface soil but below ground the tubers will produce stems from which the actual potatoes will sprout and grow until ready for harvest. Interestingly enough, potatoes are not native to the U.S. but can be traced back to South America.

The Lovely Potato Flower

Not all potato varieties produce flowers during the growing stage but flowering is usually a positive sign that the underground tubers are healthy and growing into handsome young potatoes.

'Dark Red Norland': Early Season

Known for their deep red, almost burgundy colored skins, 'Dark Red Norland' potatoes can be enjoyed early as baby-sized delights or you can let them grow into big, oblong potatoes that have a sweet, delicate flavor and are great in potato salads or boiled.

'Butte': Early Season

An ideal baking potato, the 'Butte' is also a good choice for small gardens because of the substantial number of potatoes it yields. It contains a higher vitamin C content than other potato varieties and the dry, fluffy white flesh and russeted skin are well suited for potato pancake recipes.

'Purple Majesty': Mid-Season

Succulent purple flesh encased in a satiny purple skin defines this unique potato which makes tasty and stunning looking french fries and potato chips. But why is it purple? Phoebe Webb of Filaree Garlic Farm says, "The pigment of a potato is an expression of the genetics of a particular strain of potato. It's a combination of the vitamins and minerals and the color is an expression of those chemicals."

'French Fingerling': Mid-Season

'French Fingerling' potatoes are rapidly becoming one of the most popular new strains of potatoes due to their petite, slender appearance and their earthy, robust flavor. This variety from Filaree Garlic Farm are larger than other fingerling varieties, have a vibrant, rosy skin and a creamy, yellow flesh with accents of pink.

'King Harry': Mid-Season

Distinguished by its golden yellow skin and a waxy, slightly moist texture, the 'King Harry' potato is an Irish-style tuber that withstands adverse conditions well and has some resistance to Colorado potato beetles, flea beetles and other garden pests. The folks at Renee's Garden suggest you "just microwave a big 'King Harry' potato to enjoy its nutty-tasting flesh" for a lunchtime treat.

'Rose Gold': Mid-Season

Highly prized for their mildly dry, golden flesh and rosy-red skin, 'Rose Gold' potatoes are considered one of the most versatile of red skinned tubers and are great for roasting, baking and steaming.

'Russet': Mid to Late Season

When it comes to a traditional, high-starch baking potato, it's hard to top the 'Russet' with its snowy white, dry flesh and thick, dark brown skin which is particularly delicious in creamy gratin dishes or served as french fries.

'All Blue': Mid to Late Season

The idea of blue or purple potatoes may seem like a novelty but these colorful varieties are not only tasty but extremely healthy choices for potato lovers because they offer a high level of antioxidants and vitamins. You can also have fun with the presentation such as serving up blue potatoes with red and white ones for a festive Fourth of July potato salad.

'German Butterball': Mid to Late Season

The 'German Butterball' potato is a heirloom variety that has yellow netted skin, flaky flesh and a rich flavor. Phoebe Webb of Filaree Garlic Farm admits it might be her favorite potato because "You don't need to put any butter on it. It has the most delicious texture."

'Russian Banana Fingerling': Late Season

These delicate, oblong potatoes originally came from the Baltic region of Northeastern Europe and range in size from 3 to 4 inches long. Their dense flesh keeps its shape during cooking and the folks at Renee's Garden recommend slowly roasting them with whole garlic cloves for an amazing taste treat.

'Ozette Fingerling': Late Season

Brought from South America to northwest Washington State by Spanish explorers in the late 18th century, these fingerling potatoes have a slightly earthy, nutty flavor and are excellent sautéed or lightly steamed. One important advantage of ordering seed potatoes from specialty growers like Filaree Garlic Farm and Renee's Garden is that you are getting heirloom or organic varieties with no GMO.

'Fingerling Rose Fir': Late Season

Renee Shepherd  of Renee's Garden says, "This treasured heirloom, a particular favorite of restaurant chefs, has attractive rosy-beige skin and deep yellow flesh. The elongated tubers are shaped like big fat stubby fingers and sized from 3 to 4 inches long. The 'Rose Fir' flesh looks already buttered, and the flavor is sweet and quite nutty, with a dense texture."

'Carola': Late Season

Famous for its tender, melt-in-your-mouth flesh, the medium-sized, smooth-skinned 'Carola' potato is a good choice for container growing if you have limited garden space. You can grow your own from organic seed potatoes but place your order early because many specialty growers like Renee's Garden, Filaree Garlic Farm, and Irish Eyes Garden Seeds sell out before the season even begins.

Baked Potato, Swedish Style

The 'German Butterball' potato makes an ideal ingredient for the Swedish version of baked potatoes known as Hasselback Potatoes, a recipe that originated at the Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. The potatoes are thinly sliced without cutting through the bottom so they keep their shape and baked with butter, duck fat or olive oil and topped with grated cheese, bread crumbs or fresh herbs.

Component Headline