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Growing Pontiac Red Potatoes

several red potatoes piled on a cutting board image by David Smith from

Red Pontiac potatoes are round, thin-skinned red potatoes with deep-set eyes. Grown for their delicate flavor as a “new potato," Pontiacs maintain their shape when boiled in the skin and seldom burst or crumble. Their firm texture makes them ideal for “new potato hash”--the New England equivalent of home fries. Planted in early spring, “new potatoes” are ready in July and mature potatoes are ready to harvest in late summer or early fall.

Select a sunny location that receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Till the soil in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Remove rocks, roots and other debris from the soil. Break up clods of soil with the hoe or rake, and rake the area smooth.

Test the soil to determine the pH level. Follow the instructions with the soil test kit to adjust the pH to 5.0 to 5.5.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure over the area. Work it into the existing soil with a garden tiller or hand tools.

Make a furrow to a depth of 2 to 3 inches to mark the row. Apply 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100-foot row. Mix in well with a hoe or rake.

Cut potatoes into two or three sections so that each section has at least two eyes. Plant the potato sections in the furrow, spaced 9 to 12 inches apart. Space rows 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart. Cover with 2 to 3 inches of soil and firm down with the back of the hoe.

Water to moisten the soil to a depth of 4 inches, and keep moist until shoots emerge in 10 to 14 days, depending on the weather and soil temperature.

Side-dress with 5-10-10 fertilizer when the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall. Spread 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer along the row approximately 6 inches from the base of the plants. Work in well with the soil.

Hill potatoes by mounding soil around the base of the plants. Hill again when the plants are 12 inches high.

Water deeply once a week to moisten the soil to the root level.


Check for new potatoes when plants bloom by digging beneath the plants. Harvest mature potatoes in fall with foliage dies back. Scrub tiny new potatoes with a vegetable brush to remove soil, and cook them in the skin. Boil in water and serve with fresh garden peas for a New England treat of "new potatoes and peas."

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