Growing Fingerling Potatoes

A fingerling potato is grown to maturity like most other potatoes, but comes from a special variety known to produce unusual tubers which are small and long, shaped much like fingers.
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How to Grow Potatoes 05:02

Joe Lamp'l shows how to plant, grow and harvest potatoes.

A fingerling potato comes from a special variety known to produce unusual tubers which are small, long, and narrow, shaped much like fingers. Unlike young or new potatoes, they are fully mature when harvested, in spite of their small size and thin skins.

Fingerling potato tubers range from creamy white to rich purple, and can be starchy or waxy, but most varieties are very complex in flavor. The nutritious, flavorful heritage potatoes are cooked very much like white or yellow potatoes, but because of their small, interesting shapes and sizes they are commonly cooked whole and used in side dishes or in salads. Due to their thin, tender skin, they must be brushed gently with a soft bristle under cold running water to get rid of any dirt.

Selected Varieties

Some of the best fingerling potato varieties include Rose Finn with rosy colored skin and deep yellow flesh; Peanut with a crescent teardrop shape, light brown with yellow flesh, and Ozette,  one of the tastiest of all fingerlings with pale gold skin and yellow flesh.

La Ratte has a rich nutty flavor long favored by chefs. Purple Peruvian is a hugely popular heirloom variety with purple flesh and skin, and is superb when fried or roasted. Anya is long and knobby, somewhat oval, with pinkish skin and white flesh.

Russian Banana is an outstanding, easy-to-grow fingerling potato with yellow skin and smooth, waxy, golden flesh and sweet flavor.

Grow Fingerling Potatoes

Plant fingerling varieties during cool weather, avoiding hard freezes and hot temperatures that remain above the mid-80s. They require at least six or eight hours of direct sunshine and a moist, fertile, well-drained soil.

Fingerling potatoes can be planted whole or cut into smaller pieces, each with one or two stem bud eyes. If cut up, allow the seed pieces to dry two or three days to heal over before planting in cool, wet soils. Plant two or three inches deep, a foot or so apart in rows, hills, raised beds, or containers.

Because tubers form on short stems called stolons, which grow off the lower part of the plants, it is very important to cover the lower stems as the plants grow. This helps them produce better, and also avoids sunscald and greening, which causes to potatoes to taste bitter and can indicate high levels of the poisonous plant alkaloid called solanine. Mound soil, hay or other mulch up on the lower stems as the young plants grow, and repeat as needed weekly until at least six or eight inches are completely buried.

Like most other potatoes, fingerling potatoes take three to four months from planting to harvest. During this time, water as needed, especially during hot or dry weather and in the last month or so before harvest.

Harvesting Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling potatoes tend to have very thin skin, easy to cut or bruise; harvest gently by carefully lifting entire plants to expose the tubers. Do not wash after harvest or risk mold or rot. Store the tubers in a cool, dry place, where they can last for months as long as the area is well ventilated and protected from sunlight.

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