Plant potatoes to celebrate Maewyn Day in the garden

March 15, 2023

It’s the middle of March and time to celebrate “Maewyn Day” instead of St. Patrick’s Day, because St. Patrick's birth name was Maewyn Succat. And it's no blarney that mid-March is the time to plant potatoes.

Choose a spot that gets plenty of sun and ideally has slightly acidic soil with a PH of 5.0 to 7.0. And with the luck of the Irish, potatoes are very hardy and easy to grow almost everywhere.

Buy seed potatoes from a local nursery or farm store, or by mail. Good varieties include Norland, Yukon Gold and Russet. Supermarket potatoes might not grow if they are treated with a sprout-retardant. Try using organic potatoes from the store if you do not want to buy certified virus-free seed potatoes.

Prepare your seed potatoes about three to five days before planting. Cut them so each piece is about the size of a golf ball and has several eyes. The eyes are where the roots and stems will sprout. Smaller seed potatoes can be planted whole.

After cutting your seed potatoes you will need to let them cure (dry out) for a day or two. Keep the curing cut potatoes in a warm place; around 70°F works well, After a bit, you will see thick calluses forming over the cuts.

Prepare the potato bed by digging a ditch about 6 to 8 inches deep and around 3 inches wide. Space the rows 3 feet apart. You can dig in well-rotted manure or compost if needed.

Plant each seed potato cut-side down with the eyes facing up. Space them about a foot apart in the row, although fingerling potatoes can be spaced 9 inches apart. If you want, you can add fertilizer such as bone meal and cover the plantings with 3-4 inches of soil.

As the plants grow to around 8 inches high, you can start to hill them up by adding more soil to the trench so that just the top leaves are showing. Add more soil when the plants grow another 8 inches. Stop hilling soil over the plants when they begin to bloom.

Potatoes require around one to two inches of water each week. Take care not to water too much, since soggy ground can rot the plants. Keep watering steadily through the growing season. When the leaves turn yellow and begin to die back, stop all watering.

Plant seed potatoes in March and have fresh ‘new' potatoes by summer. Wait longer, and you will have healthy vitamin-rich tubers that may well last in storage until next “Maewyn Day.”


  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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