Protecting Your Potatoes From the Cold

by Annette Welsford 1 Comment

Potatoes are easy to grow but prefer cool weather, so it is important to plant them at the right time to take advantage of that.  The right time to plant depends on your climate.

Since it takes potatoes two to three weeks to emerge from the ground, the earliest you should plant seed potatoes in cold climates is two weeks before your last anticipated freeze date. Potatoes can tolerate a light frost, but you should provide some frost protection for the plants when they are young. This can be a loose covering of straw or a temporary plastic tent (which will need lifting on sunny days).

In milder climates, potatoes can be planted in autumn. Even though the soil temperature may be high enough, the soil may still not be ready. Potatoes should be planted in soils that are dry enough to be easily cultivated. The critical consideration for planting, especially in areas with heavy spring rains, is good soil drainage. Avoid planting at temperatures above 26°C (79°F).

One of our How to Grow Great Potatoes customers has followed the advice in our book and is successfully protecting her potato plants from winter -2O C temperatures. She's rigged up a simple frame and "igloo", and as you can see her plants look very healthy. 

A big thankyou to Julie Lewin of Toowoomba in Southern Queensland, Australia for sending us these photos.


Potato Igloo
Is this a car under wraps?  Maybe a boat?
Health potato plants
No – it's a potato igloo.  Look how healthy these plants are in their protected micro climate


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