By Jennifer Poindexter
Are you looking for a different kind of potato to grow in your garden? If so, you may want to consider growing Kennebec potatoes.
This is a wonderful all-purpose potato that has a tan skin with a white flesh. These potatoes are great for baking, boiling, and frying.
Plus, they’re known for easy storage. If you want an all-purpose potato but would like to grow something different than a Russet, then keep reading as I walk you through all you should know on how to grow Kennebec potatoes.
Here’s how you can get started on this new gardening journey:
Growing Conditions for Kennebec Potatoes
Kennebec potatoes are a popular option for commercial farmers. If you’ve ever purchased specialty potato chips, chances are they were made from a Kennebec potato.
However, many people prefer this type of potato because they’re known for being more disease-resistant in comparison to some other varieties.
Plus, these potatoes are low-maintenance as well. This potato has an interesting history, too. Many people believe the Kennebec potato was created in Maine as it’s named after a river there.
There’s some debate on whether the potato originated in Maryland or Maine in 1941. Either way, by 1948, the potato was named after a river in Maine and released to the public by the USDA.
Now that you know the history of the potato, let’s talk specifics about its growing conditions. Kennebec potatoes do best when planted in the spring.
There are some growing locations where it’s warm enough to plant in the fall as well. This is typically in southern climates.
You may produce these potatoes in planting zones three through nine. They must be grown in an area which receives full sunlight, has well-draining soil, and the soil temperatures must be at 60-degrees Fahrenheit or above.
If you can supply these growing conditions, you should have all you need to start your Kennebec potatoes on the right foot.
How to Plant Kennebec Potatoes
Planting potatoes isn’t a complicated process and Kennebec potatoes are no different. Start by tilling up the ground, where the potatoes are being planted, one month prior to the final frost.
It’s wise to till the earth to approximately a foot in depth. If your soil quality is poor, it never hurts to work in a layer of compost.
In the meantime, cut up your seed potatoes. You should leave multiple eyes per piece of the seed potato.
Allow the pieces time to fully dry on the surface. This will deter rotting and also keep pests away from your plants in their earliest stages.
When you’re ready to plant the potatoes, place them three to five inches into the soil. Ensure that all the eyes are facing up.
Should the eyes be pointing down, they won’t produce as they’ll grow into the soil instead of towards the sunlight.
Leave a foot of space between each potato to ensure they have ample room to produce. Most potato plants grow to be approximately three feet tall, so they do require plenty of space.
Water the potatoes deeply and wait patiently for the growth process to occur. You should begin to see plants in approximately two to four weeks.
Now that you know how to plant potatoes, let’s move onto caring for the plants after they’ve sprouted.
Caring for Kennebec Potatoes
Caring for potatoes isn’t a complicated process. They need to be watered, hilled, and fertilized. When watering your potatoes it’s best to water them deeply.
This ensures the plants receive enough water to form deep roots, but it also ensures they don’t become over-saturated.
Begin by watering the potatoes for a longer period of time, fewer days of the week. Your potato plants need between one and two inches of water each week. This can come from you or nature.
After you have a watering session, wait a few days before testing the soil. When you test the soil, insert your finger into the dirt next to the plants.
If the soil is dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to water again. If not, wait a few days before testing the soil again. Have another deep watering session when the soil has dried out.
The next thing you’ll do is hill your potatoes. This means that you’ll mound the dirt around the potato plants every time they grow two inches.
The purpose of hilling potatoes is to keep weeds down and protect your crop. If the actual potatoes receive sunlight, they’ll turn green.
Last, you must fertilize your potato plants. Begin applying a balanced fertilizer to your plants two weeks after planting.
Continue to fertilize once per month until two weeks before harvest. At this point, stop applying fertilizer. This should keep your plants healthy and productive.
This is all potato plants need from you to encourage healthy growth while in your garden. Practice these few tips, and you should (hopefully) receive quite a reward come harvest.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Could Impact Kennebec Potatoes
Kennebec potatoes are known for being more blight resistant than other potato varieties, but there are still a few pests and diseases you must remain alert to.
For starters, though these potatoes are more tolerant of blight, they can still be impacted by it. They may also fall victim to verticillium wilt.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for either of these diseases once your potatoes become infected by them.
Be sure to remove the plants from your garden and destroy them. They shouldn’t be composted as this will further spread the disease around your property and to other plants.
The pests which most commonly impact Kennebec potatoes are beetles, caterpillars, slugs, and aphids. You may treat them with an insecticide.
However, aphids can be dealt with by spraying your plants with soapy water. You may handpick beetles and caterpillars.
If you see slugs, sprinkle your plant with diatomaceous earth and place coffee grounds around the base of the potato plants.
DE creates a dangerous terrain for the slugs to crawl over and the caffeine in the coffee grounds deters slugs as they don’t like it.
These are a few threats you should be on the lookout for. Once spotted, act quickly to protect your plants (when possible) or remove infected plants to protect your soil and surrounding crops.
How to Harvest Kennebec Potatoes
Kennebec potatoes take approximately eighty to one hundred days to reach harvest. When ready, you should receive approximately one pound of potatoes for every foot of growing space.
You’ll know it’s time to harvest when you see the leaves of your plants die back. You may even see small new potatoes at the surface of the soil.
Go ahead and harvest these tiny potatoes. Then wait another two weeks before digging into the soil and removing the full-sized potatoes.
Brush the potatoes off to remove excess dirt and store them in a cool, dry, dark location to preserve them until you’re ready to use.
This storage location could be a dark closet, a root cellar, or a dark corner of your basement. Be mindful that the potatoes don’t rest against each other as this may lead the skin of the potatoes to break down and form rot.
It’s best to fill a container with straw and place a layer of potatoes on the straw. Then add an additional layer of straw and another layer of potatoes. Continue this until all of your potatoes are neatly stored.
Ensure the container breathes as you don’t want to seal any excess moisture inside of it with your potatoes as this will also lead to rot.
Take these tips into consideration as you harvest and find the best storage options for your potato harvest.
You now know how to grow, plant, care for, protect, and harvest Kennebec potatoes. These potatoes could make for a wonderful staple to have around your home.
Whether you love all things potato or are looking to grow more fresh vegetables around your home garden, the all-purpose and low-maintenance Kennebec potato could be a great option for you.