When To Harvest Potatoes: A Guide For Spud Growers
Everyone loves potatoes. It’s the main ingredient for our favorites - french fries, tater tots, wedges, and mashed potatoes. It’s even better when you’ve grown them and harvested them from your garden. Knowing when to harvest potatoes is the best part about planting potatoes because you know you’ll know when you’ll have a basket full of tubers ready for cooking.
When Is The Best Time To Harvest Potatoes?
Potato is the easiest crop to grow, but whether you grow it in a garden bed or container, knowing when to harvest potatoes is essential. Is there a season, month, or time to harvest?
Because potato is grown below the ground, it can be difficult to tell when it’s time to dig them up. If you want to know the best time to harvest potatoes as well as how to harvest potatoes, here’s a quick guide for you to use:
- Dig potatoes up during a dry day. If the soil is wet, you need to air-dry the crops.
- If you’re looking for mature potatoes, there is an above-ground indicator that you can follow, but it’s a lengthy method. You can wait two to three weeks after the plant’s leaves have been shed or have died - the top of the plants needs to have completely expired. Cut the brown foliage down to the ground and wait for ten to fourteen days before you gather the spuds. This process allows the potatoes to develop a thicker skin. Do it within that period because if you wait too long, the potatoes may rot.
- Otherwise, dig up a small test hill so you can test if the crop is mature. You can tell if these are mature enough to be picked up because the skin is thick, and its skin is firmly stuck to the flesh when touched.
- When you touch the crop, and the skin is thin or if it rubs off too easily, the spuds are still “new.” If that’s the case, you should return it to the ground and cover it up again, then check back after a few more days. Mature potatoes can be stored for a long period.
- However, some potato farmers want to reap "new potatoes" that are usually one to two inches in size. They are harvested earlier on purpose because of their smaller size and softer skin. These are collected two to three weeks earlier and need to be eaten within a few days.
Never Store Potatoes In The Refrigerator
Now that you know when to harvest potatoes, it is also important to understand how to store them. When you have freshly dug mature potatoes, you need to let these sit in a cool, dry, and dark place to cure. The recommended temperature is 7-15 degrees Celsius. You can store them in this manner for up to two weeks. In this way, their skins can cure, which can help them last longer. Too much light will turn them green. You don’t want green potatoes! When exposed to sunlight, potatoes produce a compound called, solanine which makes the potatoes taste bitter and inedible.
When you’re done curing the potatoes, make sure you brush off any dirt and store them in a cooler place, which is preferably 7-10 degrees Celsius in temperature. Ensure that they have proper ventilation.
The great thing about knowing when to harvest potatoes and how to store them properly is that if cared for and stored well, the crops can stay fresh for up to a month. From time to time, check on the bunch and see if there are any dried up, green or sprouting potatoes. You have to throw those away.
Never store potatoes in the refrigerator. The tubers need to be kept in a cool and dry place. The fridge is not the environment for that because it increases the amount of sugar they contain from starch, which would give it an unpleasant sweet taste and may cause it to darken when cooked.
What Do I Do With The Shriveled Potatoes?
If you have to throw away green, shriveled, or sprouting crops, you can toss those in the compost bin. What about potato peels? Potato skins are edible, but if they’re too cut up to be eaten, you can also add the potato skins to the compost bin. If you haven’t started a compost bin yet, today is a good day to start.
Potatoes are perfectly safe to turn into soil, but you have to check them first if they have any fungus growth on them. There is a type of potato blight that can damage your crops; it appears rotten, brown, dry and found in sunken areas of the crop. So make sure to filter them before adding them to the pile.
For whole potatoes, make sure you cut them up. Cut up the shriveled, green, and sprouting potatoes. You’ll be surprised to see a bunch of new potatoes waiting for you in the pile if you don’t cut these. Potatoes have a tendency to grow into new potatoes if left whole in the compost bin.
Is there an actual season, month, or time when to harvest potatoes? Potatoes can be grown all year round, that’s for sure. Think of all the many things you can do with potatoes aside from the regular fry. You can make them into casseroles, pancakes, hash browns, and even salads! You can also turn them into potato flour if you have some extra time on your hands.
It may be difficult at first, but when you get the hang of knowing when to harvest potatoes, then pretty soon, you will become a spud expert. And maybe after digging spuds on your own, you can get the whole family involved. All you need are baskets for everyone to carry. It is an activity that even the kids can enjoy.
November 9, 2020
by: Annette Cockerham
Vegetables are essential in our diet. They contain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to keep our bodies healthy and give us long life.