Fall Planted Potatoes, Zone 8

Mendo. County, CA(Zone 8b)

Dear Potato Gurus:

I've come across some articles on planting fall potatoes recently, and wonder what your experience has been. We are in Northern California, at a 1400 ft. elevation. We're in Zone 8. Our last and first frost dates are early May and mid October. We have wet winters and springs, dry and hot summers and falls. Since starting gardening just a few years ago, we have always planted our potatoes in April and harvest in late July. (We're "supposed" to plant St. Patrick's day but always seem to be a little behind...) No one here that I know of plants in fall, but then again it may just be that no one realizes it can be done!

If we were to plant fall potatoes, WHEN should we? We have raised (stacking) beds which means good drainage, so does that mean the even with very wet winters we don't need to worry about the potatoes rotting in the ground? What about our cold December, January, and February? Will the tender greenery be showing or does it wait until the warmer temps arrive to peek out of the ground?

We have many, many egg sized potatoes left from our July harvest. What should I do to make then ready for planting?

We plant onions and garlic in the fall here, so maybe potatoes aren't out of the question. Tell us more, please...

Mendo. County, CA(Zone 8b)

So fall planting of potatoes isn't common?

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

lol It's 102 here, so the concept of "fall" is a little abstract right now, but yeah, we usually plant two crops of potatoes each year.

I'd say it's definitely worth trying a few just to see. Maybe a few different varieties, if that's available to you. You're the same zone as us, but I think a lot damper, so I'm not sure how you would adjust for that. They grow fine when it's cool, and will stand some frost, as long as it's not an early hard freeze or something like that. They're nice winter plants, because they're a nice deep green with lots of leaves when other things are brown. I think the stacking would help with drainage but maybe would make it colder. The official county agent approved planting date for here is August, although I don't normally do it that early.

Some people think if you're going to plant potatoes in the fall that you just harvested in the spring, you need to make them think they've been through a winter. So put them in the fridge (or if you have a nice cool root cellar) for several weeks, then let them sit around a room temperature. Humid, if you can manage that without being so wet as to rot.

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