How To Grow Potatoes In Canada

Planting Potatoes In Canada
Planting Potatoes In Canada 101

How To Grow Potatoes In Canada

If you continuously notice that your potatoes are yielding low there are some tips that may be able to help. As Canadian gardeners we tend to get our advice from American gardeners. Unfortunately due to a colder climate these rules do not always apply. This article will look at exactly how to grow potatoes in Canada.

I commonly see a few mistakes with potatoes grown in cold climates. In this article we will be looking at what type of potato to plant in Canada, why you should actually start your potatoes inside, and how and when to plant them outdoors. 

What kind of potatoes can you grow in Canada.

Just like any seed or plant potatoes have a set number of growing days needed. Also similar to other plants, potatoes will have the number of days to harvest indicated on the bag. The first step in selecting your potato is to find the number of days to harvest allocated to your zone.

For example any Canadians on three or a USDA zone four there are only 80-90 growing degree days on average. This doesn’t include germination time and only refers to the time a plant has from first true leaves to harvest. 

You want to select your potato variety based on this number. This number is typically posted at the bottom of the bag and you will want to stay within your range. If you choose to go with a potato variety that has more green degree days then what is applicable for your zone you will most definitely need to start being indoors.

A great example of a potato that needs to be started indoors early is the sweet potato. There are also different forms of yams, and purple potatoes that have a longer number of growing degree days required. A good rule of thumb regardless of which zone you’re in here in Canada you will want to stay below 90 days.

Start Potatoes Early In Canada

So the more obvious form of starting potatoes early in Canada would be in a bag or container. However this can be messy if done indoors and generally won’t move well once spring time arrives. Therefore you can try chitting your potatoes before planting outdoors.

Chitting your potatoes before planting them in an outdoor Canadian garden will drastically increase your yields. The concept is actually pretty simple. All you do is place your potatoes in a sunny location and mist once a week.

This process will allow for sprouting that is not like the end of week. You will notice that the sprouts are compact and plentiful. This is exactly what you’re looking for before planting the potatoes outdoors. You can start the chitting process as a Canadian Gardener 6 weeks before your last frost date. 

Planting Potatoes Outside In Canada

If you are a gardener in Ontario, a gardener in Alberta, B.C or even the Yukon the potato planting process is all the same. You can choose to either dig a trench or dig a hole. If you choose to grow your potatoes in a container check out my container garden article.

You want to start planting your potatoes outdoors four weeks before your last frost date. It takes some time for potatoes to sprout and under the shield of soil they are OK despite still cold temperatures. A good rule of thumb is once the swell is above 5°C it is ready to go.

Potato Hole Depth

To start off with you want to dig your hole or trench to approximately 6 inches in depth. Then you’ll want to place your potato belly button side down. The belly button will look similar to a scar that is located on one end of the potato.

From there you will want to fill up the hole with 3 to 4 inches of soil. This means we will not be level with the surrounding ground and will have a depression approximately 2 inches deep. You’ll be using this at a later date. Now you can tap down the soil gently and give it in water.

Once the potato plant has sprouted and going to grow level with the surrounding soil you can fill in the rest of the hole. This extra two or 3 inches of soil piled on top of me spreading potato will actually produce more potatoes. 

From there I will need to do is wait for it to flower. Once the flowers have formed and will do the way you are ready to begin harvesting. The longer you leave the potatoes in the ground after the flowers have died off the larger the potatoes will come. Keep in mind that the soil is actually a great way to store your potatoes until you were ready to eat them.

There you have it, a full guide to growing potatoes in Canada and getting a good yield from your potato garden this year. Keep in mind the key is proper selection in the potato when growing in Canada. Also to start your potatoes inside early through the process of chitting. Let me know in the comments if you have found the best way to get big yields in your potato garden.

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