Get to Know Potato Varieties and Their Uses (Video)

Reader Contribution by Shelley Stonebrook
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Chipped, fried, sautéed, boiled, baked, or mashed—potatoes are one vegetable we simply couldn’t do without. But what type and variety of potato should you be growing? Read on and watch our video to find out about the different potatoes types so you can choose the best potato varieties to meet your needs.

Photo by Fotolia/vm2002.

Culinary Uses for Potatoes

Choose potato varieties that suit their end use. Starchy potatoes are great at absorbing liquids, causing the potato to break apart in cooking. These types are great for making baked potatoes, mashing, or cutting into wedges and roasting.

Waxy potatoes hold together better. They are ideal for cooking in soups and stews, and for making potato salads.

Look closely at the descriptions of different varieties and make sure you pick one that’s suitable for how you want to cook it.

Time to Harvest

Early potatoes are ready as soon as the start of summer and “second earlies” follow on a couple of weeks later.

Maincrop potatoes are ready to dig up and enjoy anytime from mid- to late-summer and onward.

Growing Potatoes

Grow potatoes in moist, fertile, and well-draining soil. Early potatoes can be planted in rows just 1foot apart, while maincrop potatoes need at least 1.5 feet between rows.

Our Garden Planner is a useful tool for choosing varieties suitable for your location and working out how many plants you can fit into the space you have for optimal harvest. When you drag out a row or block of plants, the Garden Planner will calculate how many plants will fit in the space you have.

If space is tight, try growing early potatoes in containers.

Disease Resistance

Potatoes are commonly affected by blight, scurf and scab. Select varieties described as displaying resistance or tolerance to these and other common diseases. Early varieties are less likely to be affected by blight.

Learn more about potato types and varieties—and their best uses—in this video.

More Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

More Videos

Watch more videos on growing food and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.

Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and also runs Stonegrass Farms Soap Co. in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.