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 that are shaped much like fingers.

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.

Potato Varieties

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Potato ‘Red Duke of York’

A vigorous first early, producing abundant, good-sized, red-skinned tubers with delicious pale yellow flesh. Perfect in salads when small, and boiled or baked when larger. Young shoots need protection from frost.

Plant: Early spring
Harvest: Early to midsummer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Mimi’

The ideal first early for containers, producing masses of small red tubers with incredibly tasty, waxy, cream-colored flesh. An excellent salad potato with good scab resistance. Protect new shoots from frost.

Plant: Early spring
Harvest: Early summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Foremost’

Harvest this useful early variety from early summer or lift as required throughout the summer. The white-skinned, white-fleshed crop has a firm texture, ideal for salads and boiling. Protect young shoots from frost.

Plant: Early spring
Harvest: Early to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Charlotte’

A supermarket favorite because of its long, smooth, yellow tubers, with fabulously flavored, waxy flesh.This second early is easy to grow in the garden, and one of the best salad potatoes.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: Mid- to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Arran Pilot’

A popular first early, excellent for gardeners eager to enjoy large yields of small potatoes with creamy, waxy flesh. Good scab resistance and tolerance of dry spells. Young shoots need protection from frost.

Plant: Early spring
Harvest: Early to midsummer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Saxon’

For baking, boiling, and french-frying, try this floury textured second early. The large, white tubers have a mild, creamy flavor, and the plants display a useful resistance to both blackleg and eelworm.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: Mid- to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Royal Kidney’

An old maincrop salad variety, ‘Royal Kidney’ produces delicious, yellow-fleshed salad potatoes from late summer. It is also tempting to dig up the plants earlier for crops of tender baby potatoes.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: Late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Kerrs Pink’

This versatile and high-yielding maincrop variety is reliable in most soils. The blush pink tubers have delicious floury cream flesh that is perfect for mashing, french-frying, roasting, and baking. Stores well.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: From early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Ratte’

The long, slightly knobby tubers harvested from this maincrop variety are a real treat. Their dense, waxy, yellow flesh has a strong nutty flavor, making them perfect for salads.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: Late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Sante’

An excellent choice for organic gardeners because of its excellent pest and disease resistance, this maincrop variety yields large cream tubers that are great for baking, boiling, and roasting. Stores well.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: From late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Pink Fir Apple’

A curious old maincrop variety, producing long, irregular tubers with pink-tinged skin that is best left on during cooking. The waxy flesh, with its earthy flavor, is popular in salads, and the tubers store well.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: From early fall
Soil Preferences: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Potato ‘Nicola’

Resistance to eelworm and blight makes this variety a good option for maincrop salad potatoes. Large crops of long, yellow, waxy tubers are reliably produced and store well over winter.

Plant: Mid-spring
Harvest: From late summer
Soil Preferences: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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