Seed Potato 'Red Pontiac' (Solanum tuberosum)
‘Red Pontiac’ produces big red tubers that, unlike other red varieties, hold up well for just about any use. They can be baked, boiled, fried or mashed. The plants have exceptionally good tolerance to clay soils.
Very versatile and a great choice for using in soups and chowders, potato salad, mashing, thin sliced for scalloped or au gratin recipes, or shaping into potato pancakes. Wash fruits, vegetables and herbs thoroughly before eating.
Feed every 4 weeks with a fertilizer low in nitrogen, higher in phosphorus and potassium (such as 5-10-10).
Water 2 – 3 times per week.
Fertile, well-drained soil.
Basic Care Summary
Grows best in fertile, loose, well-drained soil. Water plants 1″ (3cm) per week, less if there is sufficient rainfall. Apply a high phosphorus fertilizer every 4 weeks through the growing season. Store potatoes in a cool dry location. A mesh bag is ideal for storage.
Select a sunny site, away from trees and close to a water source if possible.
Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil (use a hoe, spade, or power tiller) to a depth of 12-16” (30-40cm). Add organic matter such as manure, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients, and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keep soil healthy. Give plants an extra boost by adding a granulated fertilizer formulated for vegetables or and all-purpose feed (such as a fertilizer labeled 5-10-5).
Plant seed potatoes in early spring as soon as the chance of frost is past and the soil is easy to work. Dig a row 6” (15 cm) deep and place the seed potato with at least one eye facing up. As soon as the plants are about a foot tall (30cm) mound soil around the plant leaving 6” (15cm) of the plant exposed. Repeat this mounding process as the plants grow. Potatoes can be harvested as “new” potatoes in 2-4 months, or wait until the plant dies to harvest larger, storage potatoes.
Ideally water should only be applied to the root zone – an area roughly 6-12” (15-30cm) from the base of the plant, not the entire plant. A soaker hose is a great investment for keeping plants healthy and reducing water lost through evaporation. Hand watering using a watering wand with a sprinkler head attached is also a good way to control watering. If the garden area is large, and a sprinkler is necessary, try to water in the morning so that plant foliage has time to dry through the day. Moist foliage encourages disease and mold that can weaken or damage plants.
Thoroughly soaking the ground every 2-3 days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance. How often to water will depend on rainfall, temperature and how quickly the soil drains. Keep in mind that the potatoes are growing underground and will not do well in soggy wet soil. Even if the plant foliage looks okay, if the soil is noticeably waterlogged this could cause problems with the development of the potatoes. Take care not to overwater as well.
To check for soil moisture use your finger or a small trowel to dig in and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.
Potato plants produce attractive little flowers, but because the focus is on root development, not flowering, it is okay to pinch off flowers. This will encourage the plant’s energy to go into the development of roots and potatoes instead of flowering and seed production. If the plant grows tall and starts to lean a stake or two can be provided for support. Loosely tie the plant to the stake.
Harvest time depends on how the potatoes will be used. Harvest new potatoes two to three weeks after the plant finishes flowering. Carefully dig these small potatoes from under a potato plant so that you don’t damage the roots. Dig up full-grown potatoes to eat promptly when the leaves begin to die. For storage potatoes, allow the leaves to die back then stop watering for two weeks but leave the potatoes in the ground to allow their skins to harden for storage. Harvest in the morning on a cool, dry day and carefully dig up the potatoes using your hands or a small garden fork.
Plants should be fertilized every 4 weeks, ending approximately two weeks before harvest. Choose a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and potassium and lowest in nitrogen. This nutritional balance will encourage the best root (potato) development. A granulated 5-10-10 fertilizer or liquid equivalent should do the job. Be sure to read package directions for any special precautions and information on the best method of application.
|Height Metric Range||0.6-0.9m|
|Space Metric Range||23-38cm|
|Companion Plants||Beans, Corn, Lettuce, Marigold|
|Lowest Temperature||30° to 40°F|
|Lowest Temperature Metric||-1° to 4°C|
|Plant Light||Full Sun|
|Hardiness Zone||10, 11, 12|