Home grown “Yukon Gold” potatoes have more flavor than store-bought potatoes.

Potato Varieties: Yukon Gold

by Heidi Medina

The slightly starchy, firm, yellow flesh of the “Yukon Gold” potato (Solanum tuberosum “Yukon Gold”) is versatile for boiling, mashing, frying, roasting and baking, making it the favorite all-around potato. The large potato has a sweet, buttery taste and a thin skin that requires no peeling -- just a stiff brush to wash and use. “Yukon Gold” potatoes produce more potatoes per plant than other varieties and are easy to grow in the garden or in potato boxes.

1. Planting

The planting time for certified “Yukon Gold” seed potatoes is one month before the last frost date or as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Never use store-bought potatoes in your garden, because they may be treated with chemicals to prevent sprouting. Till loose, well-drained soil and mix in 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet into the soil before planting to support these heavy feeders. Cut large seed potatoes into pieces, each having at least two “eyes” per piece, while leaving small potatoes whole. Plant the potato "seeds" by placing the pieces cut-side down into a 3- to 4-inch-deep trench or potato box, about 8 to 12 inches apart, and cover.

2. Care

Watering deeply and regularly, once or twice a week ensures “Yukon Gold” potatoes receive the consistent moisture they need to produce high yields and prevent the hollow hearts, cracks and knobs caused by dry soil. Avoid over-watering because the potatoes will rot. Protect the newly formed shallow tubers from sun by adding several more inches of soil or mulch around the base of the plants as they grow. Till in a second application of 1 to 2 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet, 2 to 3 inches deep, at the edge of the potato row, three to four weeks after planting. When the plants begin to yellow, stop watering.

3. Harvesting

You can begin harvesting “baby” potatoes by gently digging under the plants about two to three weeks after they've bloomed. Only remove a few of the larger potatoes, leaving the rest to continue to grow to maturity. Water the disturbed plants to prevent shock. Final harvest happens two to three weeks after the plant has died back. Carefully dig up the tubers from the soil to avoid damage. If you damage any potatoes, use them right away. Don't store potatoes that have any cuts in them.

4. Storing

“Yukon Gold” potatoes will keep up to six months when properly stored. In a process called curing, place the newly harvested potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place for three to four days. This gives the skins times to dry fully and toughen. Do not skip this step because uncured potatoes will rot. Store the cured potatoes in a dark, well-ventilated area with relative humidity levels of 90 percent and temperatures ranging between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing potatoes at temperatures above 55 F will cause sprouting. Check the potatoes occasionally for rotten ones to prevent the whole batch from spoiling.

About the Author

Denver resident Heidi Medina is a home cook, food blogger, lifetime gardener and professional landscape designer. Her 20-year landscape career includes residential and commercial landscape design, installations and maintenance. Medina's recipes and cooking tips have appeared on the "Simply Sophisticated Cooking" food blog. A senior in college, she is working on a Bachelor of Science degree in Internet Technology with a specialization in web development.

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