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How early to plant potatoes this year in PNW

 
Annie Burncott
Posts: 8
Location: Arlington, WA
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Hello!

Ordering seed potatoes and wondering whether to have them sent mid-April or ASAP. Such a mild winter we've had and spring is already here! The grass is already growing. I'm in zone 8, four miles from the Sound. Yes, it can still snow, still freeze (not just frost!) for the next month at least, but I"m betting this warm trend will continue. Is anyone as optimistic as I and planted their potatoes yet this year or about to? When do you normally plant your potatoes? Last year I planted mine April 15, and they seemed to grow well, but I wonder if they could have been in the ground longer and gotten bigger. The plants weren't entirely dead when I had to harvest since the "rains" were coming. It was early October. Thanks!
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Annie,
I'm down in the Willamette Valley (zone 7), and I am getting ready for my first planting.
I tend to plant them over the course of a month or so, about a week apart.

I generally start putting them in the ground the first week of March.
Last year I had good results.
 
Annie Burncott
Posts: 8
Location: Arlington, WA
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Hi Matt,
Do you ever have snow or freezing after you've planted the potatoes? Do you remember the weather last year after you planted? I've always followed the guidelines of "plant mid-April" for zone 8, but I wonder if I could go sooner. I just called Territorial, where I get my seeds, and they said, "Plant for tax day, yup." But I wonder...Of course, I've got an idea now from you, which is try to plant some early and see what happens. I can stagger when I plant. Thanks!
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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We don't generally get much snow during the winter... usually once or twice.
I remember snow in mid-late February a couple of times, don't remember in March.

It's common for us to have frost/freezing in March, our last frost date is generally around May 15th.
Typically though we're pretty safe from a hard frost by mid April, at least at my house.

Last year we didn't have a hard freeze, it was just a typical cold and wet spring.
April 15th is certainly safe... it just depends on how quickly you want to start eating new potatoes.

As for me, seed potatoes are cheap, and I like to have them in the ground sooner rather than later.
If I lose some, it's fine... I always have more following behind.
That's the beauty of planting on a small scale, I have more versatility.

 
Annie Burncott
Posts: 8
Location: Arlington, WA
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Matt, I appreciate all the details. You're definitely warmer than we are, but we're just a few weeks behind you, it appears. What I am going to do for sure is stagger the planting the way you do. I haven't done that before, and it eludes me why I hadn't thought of that prior to your post. Thanks again!
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Posts: 3544
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Ya ,rub it in you two! I just had a ft of snow two days ago !
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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bummer... it is much to late for that.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I leave mines in the ground and they regrow every year. So technically you could sow them in the fall.
My last freezing day is also April 15th. with 4inch a rain for that month. I am pretty sure that they dont start sporting until at least mid may.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1349
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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I plant outside 1st of May. I plant in my greenhouse this coming month and have new potatoes by mid May with still enough time to plant a crop in their place inside the greenhouse.
 
Matt Saager
Posts: 48
Location: Oregon - Willamette Valley
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Bengi -
I was kind of hoping someone would weigh in on that... I've heard of folks who plant at the same time they dig them up.
I believe that is the approach the Back To Eden guy uses in his garden.

- Do you have issues with them rotting in the ground?
- How about scab from year to year?
- Do you rotate the planting location?
 
Annie Burncott
Posts: 8
Location: Arlington, WA
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Bengi, Like Matt, I'm interested, too. I'm all ears!

Well, I'm going to admit this, Wyomiles. For me, spring is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes all the work it brings is overwhelming, and I envy those with a shorter growing season. I suspect Robert is shaking his head right about now. I've considered a greenhouse, but I think, "Do I really want to be growing year 'round or close to it?" I'm kind of lazy that way...
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
8
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On the west coast the frost line is less than 12inches, here it is 36inches. If they are left on the surface or with less than 4nches of dirt yes they rot other than that just mound up as they start growing.
 
Annie Burncott
Posts: 8
Location: Arlington, WA
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Great, thanks Bengi!
 
Bobby Patton
Posts: 9
Location: Snohomish county, Wa.
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Zone 8 here too, under ten miles from the sound as well and my potatoes are in tha dirt.
 
Joe Hoffman
Posts: 16
Location: Shenandoah Co., VA USA
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Unanimous opinion around here (Zone 6½ ) is to plant on St. Patrick's Day. We always get at least one frost after that, but it's never seemed to matter.

I missed some tiny potatoes when I harvested last July. OK, call them seeds. They sprouted in November, and grew almost a foot high before winter got them.
 
Fiona Martin
Posts: 30
Location: UK, Newcastle Upon Tyne
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I just dug up 1lb of spuds from a heap of weeds and soil, they grew up before last winter but were fine when I dug them last week. In fact last years harvest was so poor, if it hadn't been for the volunteer spuds which came up in various compost heaps, I wouldn't have had a crop. I intend to put my spuds in when I get chance in march, and I'm in northeast England.
 
Annie Burncott
Posts: 8
Location: Arlington, WA
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Well...what I'm gathering is it's time to plant. We just had a morning of frost, but right back to high 30s mornings, so I'm risking it, if it is a risk. So many plant early in zones far colder than mine, and Bobby has planted already. Thanks Bobby.
 
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