Because potatoes are a cool-season vegetable, you can plant the potatoes in late summer to be harvested in late fall or early winter. However, fall potatoes have slightly different needs than those grown in the spring and summer. Fall potatoes are more crisp and firm than their early-season counterparts, and they will keep in storage all winter if harvested and stored properly, according to Kansas State University Extension.
Planting Time Line
Schedule the planting for a fall crop of potatoes around the anticipated first frost for your area. Ideally, you should set the potatoes in the soil 110 days before the first expected frost. You can also plant potatoes in mid-summer for a fall harvest. For example, if you want freshly harvested potatoes in October, plant them in June or July.
Acquiring Seed Potatoes
If you plan on planting potatoes in the fall, you'll need to make arrangements for getting seed potatoes at planting time. Most nursery and garden centers will not have seed potatoes available in late summer or early fall. Instead, you'll need to ask during the spring whether they will get a shipment in mid to late summer that you can use. You can also keep some extra seed potatoes from your spring planting, as long as you store them properly. You'll need to keep them in the refrigerator or another cool, dry place until planting time.
Plant fall potatoes just as you would in spring. Set the seed pieces 3 inches deep in the soil. Proper planting depth is important because seeds set too deeply are more susceptible to disease. Cover the potatoes with soil and step down on it to pack it down firmly. Set the seed pieces 10 inches to 12 apart, with rows spaced 2 feet to 3 feet apart.
Care for Fall Potatoes
Fall potatoes have different care and maintenance requirements than those grown in the spring. Because they typically are planted in late summer, when temperatures remain high, they need regular waterings, especially during dry spells or when it is windy, advises Kansas State University Extension. However, be careful not to use too much water, which makes the tubers susceptible to rot. Fertilize as you would earlier crops -- apply 1 cup of fertilizer for every 30 feet of garden row when the plants reach 4 inches high.
Anna Aronson began working as a journalist in 2000 and spent six years at suburban Chicago newspapers before pursuing freelance work. She enjoys writing about health care topics, in particular obstetrics, pediatrics and nutrition. She received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and is now studying for a Master of Science in medicine degree to become a physician's assistant.