Among the vegetables that Americans love, potatoes certainly rank highly, and if you want to grow this crop, you may be curious as to when to plant potatoes in zone 7.
After all, hardiness zone 7 is present in 28 states of the US, so if you live in the country, chances are you’re staying within this gardening zone.
For successful cultivation of potatoes, note that the ideal planting schedule for them is in March and April, though fall gardening is also fine.
Table of Contents
Best Time to Plant Potatoes in Zone 7
1. In spring
The best time for growing potatoes in zone 7 is spring. Specifically, you should sow them two weeks before the last frost. Now, you may ask, “Why not wait until there’s no frost?”
You can certainly do so, but there are several reasons why I recommend starting potatoes early:
- First, you’ll enjoy a longer growing season: Zone 7 has one of the hottest climates in the US, so growing potatoes earlier means they’ll have more time to develop without the summer heat harming them.
- Second, some mild frosts in spring won’t kill potatoes, especially if you protect them with row covers and mulch. To be specific, as long as the ambient temperature is above 28℉, your plants are safe.
- Lastly, the extended growing time results in higher yields.
Now that you know the two-weeks guideline, it’s also vital that you chit your potatoes four to six weeks before the final frost. Doing so will further lengthen the growing season and give your tubers a head start in germination.
To give you an example of calculating planting dates:
Nashville in Tennessee is in zone 7a. Because its last frost is on April 7, residents here should chit potatoes on March 10 or February 24 and plant them on March 24.
2. In the fall
Though not as optimal as spring, another good time to plant potatoes is in the fall. During this season, beetles that harm potatoes will be inactive, and provided that you time the planting correctly, it’s possible to enjoy a second harvest before winter.
Since fall frosts can kill potatoes (unlike late spring frosts), it’s vital that your tubers completely mature before freezing temperatures show themselves.
Look up the growing period for your cultivar (in weeks or days), and count backward from the first frost; the result will be your planting date.
- For example, the central and southern regions of Suffolk in zone 7b in Virginia have their first frost on November 9. Therefore, people here should start maincrop potatoes on July 20 or June 8, considering these tubers take sixteen to twenty-two weeks to mature.
- To further illustrate, zone 7 July planting is feasible in central Virginia, where many gardeners start potatoes in July and harvest them before the first frost.
Plant Potatoes in Zone 7 in the Summer
It’s possible to grow potatoes in summer, but doing so is not ideal because of the following reasons:
- Beetles may harm your plants.
- Heat levels of 80℉ and higher will halt crop development.
If you insist on planting potatoes in summer, it’s best that you do it late in the season.
How to Plant Potatoes?
- Chit your seed potatoes by placing them under grow lights. Once you see sprouts that are 0.5 inch in length, you can prepare the potatoes for planting. Specifically, cut the tubers in half, making sure to leave their eyes intact, then dry the potatoes under sunlight for three to five days before planting.
You can skip the cutting step if your potatoes are already small in the first place.
- Remove all weeds and detritus from the soil, and make sure the ground has a pH of 5 to 7. That said, the ideal pH range is 6 to 6.5.
- The planting area should also have adequate drainage and a temperature range of 60 to 70ºF, though 45 degrees are acceptable.
- Then, dig holes at least 8 inches deep, put one potato in each hole with their eyes facing upward, and apply organic compost to the soil. It’s also important to space the potatoes 12 inches
- Remember to keep some spare soil and compost in your garden as well, so as the plants grow and become more extensive, you can hill them up. Hilling ensures the potatoes won’t become bitter or toxic.
- Give the soil at least an inch of water a week, and wait until your crops are ready for harvest.
Why should you grow potatoes in zone 7?
Potatoes are very versatile as cooking ingredients. You can make countless dishes with them, from simple smashed potatoes to more complex recipes like pot roasts, casseroles, and pies.
Plus, planting potatoes can save you money and serve as a fun physical activity.
How to choose potato varieties?
First, you need to consider the climate where you live. For zone 7, some varieties that grow well are: Yukon Gold, Sangre, French Fingerling, Snowden, and Green Mountain potatoes.
Next, you should think about the following factors:
- Usage – High-starch potatoes are more crumbly, while low-starch, waxy types retain their shapes better. There’re also potatoes in the middle of these two categories. So, think of how you want your potatoes to look in your dishes and pick accordingly.
- Days to maturity – If there isn’t much time left before the first frost, it’s best to grow varieties that mature quickly, such as early potatoes.
- Garden space – Maincrop varieties will require more space than early ones (1.5 feet between rows vs. 1 foot between rows).
- Susceptibility to disease – Some potatoes are more resistant to blight than others.
How to care for potato plants in zone 7?
Follow the tips we mentioned above, and watch out for beetles. If they show up, cover the potatoes with light tarps and remove the insects by hand.
How to harvest potatoes in zone 7?
To harvest potatoes, you just need to dig around their roots or tubers and pull the plants up by hand. If you don’t know when potatoes are ready for harvest, check out our guide here.
How long does it take for potatoes to grow?
On average, it takes 90 to 120 days for potatoes to completely grow after planting. However, you can find cultivars that mature much more quickly. For instance, Rocket potatoes will be harvestable within 60 to 70 days.
Where can potatoes grow?
In warmer areas, such as in zone 8a and higher, potatoes adapt to fall planting very well.
If the climate is extremely warm or rarely snowy, it’s even possible to garden in January and February. An example is Florida farmers planting potatoes during winter.
When to plant sweet potatoes in zone 7?
It may surprise you, but sweet potatoes and potatoes are from different families (morning glory for the former and nightshades for the latter).
Sweet potatoes should also be planted after the last frost and not before it, unlike potatoes.
By now, you should know when to plant potatoes in zone 7. It’s easy to grow them at the correct time if you look up your frost dates and follow our tips above.
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