Potatoes are a a major industry in Aroostook County and a good vegetable to grow anywhere in Maine. I prefer growing unusual, specialty potatoes rather than the Kennebec and Katahdin varieties you can buy at any store.

Varieties I’m growing this year include Charlotte, a French variety new to Wood Prairie Farm this year; two other Wood Prairie varieties – 34 Rose Gold and King Harry – and Red Thumb from Fedco, along with some leftovers from last summer’s crop that we didn’t eat over the winter.

Soil temperatures should reach 50 degrees before planting, which is right about now.

Keep seed potatoes in a cool place before cutting them into pieces about half the size of an egg. Don’t plant until the eyes of the potato show signs of sprouting.

Add compost if the soil is not already rich in organic matter. Create a trench about two inches deep, place the cut seed potatoes about a foot apart in the row, then fill the trench with soil.

Fertilize with a balanced organic fertilizer when you plant the seed potatoes, and every couple of weeks after that. As the seedlings sprout, use your hoe to cut off any weeds while you pull soil into the trench to cover the stem – but not the leaves – creating a hill that by harvest time is 8 to 12 inches high. You will probably need to do this every ten days through the summer.

You can hand dig a few new potatoes beginning in July, but the main harvest comes when the leaves have died back in the fall.

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