Growing Red Potatoes

Red potatoes are generally easy-to-grow small potatoes with thin, edible red skins and white flesh, and are the most common potatoes used for boiling and steaming.
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How to Grow Potatoes 05:02

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

Red potatoes, the most common variety of potatoes in the United States, have red skin and white flesh. Because they are typically small and roundish, they are sometimes called “new” potatoes, which are actually the young immature, tubers harvested early from any potato variety. In spite of their small size, they remain firm and moist when cooked, and their very thin skin does not need peeling before cooking or eating. They are excellent when boiled, steamed, or roasted.

Red Potato Varieties

Red Pontiac is a very popular mid-season potato that is generally round to slightly oblong. Norland Red holds up very well when cooked. Red Gold has reddish skin and golden-colored flesh.

Red LaSoda and LaRouge are red-skin potatoes which grow well and mature fairly early, important in warmer climates where cool seasons are short. Red Ruby is an early maturing, brilliant red skin potato that stores very well. The heavy-producing All Red has brilliant red skin and light red flesh.

Growing Red Potatoes

Red potato plants need seven or eight hours of sunshine, well-drained moist soil, and good fertility. Plant potatoes during cool weather when there is no danger of a freeze but when temperatures remain below the mid-80s.

Find “seed” potatoes online, but order early while supplies last.  Before planting, cut seed potatoes into small pieces, each with one or two small “eyes” or leaf buds. Plant about three inches deep and a foot apart in rows, hills, raised beds, or containers. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer before planting and an extra bit about a month after plants start growing.

Potato tubers grow on short stolons on lower stems. To avoid tuber greening and a buildup of a poisonous plant alkaloid called solanine, keep tubers in total darkness by piling soil or thick mulch around small plants, repeating as needed until six or eight inches of lower stems are buried.

Harvesting Potatoes

Tiny, extra-tender baby red potatoes can be harvested about three months after planting, but for somewhat larger, mature tubers wait another month or so when plants begin to turn yellow. Because of their thin, delicate skins, dig carefully to avoid cuts and bruises – just gently dust off soil, do not wash as this can lead to decay.

Store mature tubers in a cool, dry, dark area such as in the refrigerator for a few weeks, checking regularly for shriveling and decay. However, because of their thin skin, red potatoes do not store well and are usually cooked rather quickly after harvest. 

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Many gardeners love hand-harvesting small, immature potato tubers early in the season from beneath still-growing plants. They tend to be extra sweet and tender.

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Waxy potatoes can be any shape, size, or color, but tend to be relatively low in starch, which causes them to retain their shape when cooked, making them ideal for boiling and chopping, not for mashing or baking.

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.

Growing White Potatoes

White potatoes are classics with light tan skin and pure white flesh, and are indispensable for using in nearly any recipe but are superb when boiled or fried.

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Russet potatoes are classic big, brown cut-and-fry or baking potatoes – large, uniform, and dependable producers in the home garden.

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