Knowing when to dig up potatoes and how to store them after harvesting helps gardeners get the best out of their farms with plenty of harvests.
You have planted your potatoes, hilled properly, and fertilized; now your potatoes are full and healthy ready for harvest time.
You might be wondering when to dig up your potatoes and how to know they are fully mature. We will enlighten you in this article so follow us as we unravel the mystery together.
How To Tell It’s Time To Dig Up Potatoes?
Potatoes are harvested according to the season they were planted and how the owner wants to eat them. Some harvest them as new, old, or matured.
To tell that your regular potatoes are ready for harvesting, look out for several signs:
For regular potatoes check to see the foliage has withered and died back before you start the harvesting process
With the foliage dead, dig up a potato from a few plants and rub the skin of the potato with your fingers to test if it scrubs off easily. The skin should be firm and not come off easily
New potatoes can be harvested early. These are potatoes that are purposefully harvested early for their tender skin and smaller size. You can harvest them 2 to 3 weeks after the potato plants stop flowering. These new potatoes should not be cured because their skin is not strong enough to last long.
You can now go ahead and harvest your potatoes. Gardeners frequently underestimate the potato and don’t realize its simplistic nature hides not only a world of flavors but also one of the differences and complex growth patterns.
When To Dig Up Potato
The best time to harvest potatoes is in the fall or early winter but it depends on when planting took place. Potatoes tolerate light frost but when hard frost is expected, it’s time to dig them out. In areas that have cool fall without frost, the soil temperature will dictate when you can dig up your potatoes. The soil needs to be above 45 degrees F.
Now that you know the potatoes are mature and ready for harvest, it’s your choice to either harvest all of them or part of them. As you dig your potatoes, be careful not to scrape, cut or bruise the potatoes. Damaged potatoes should not be stored rather be used up as soon as possible. If you would like to store your potatoes for long-term use, go ahead and allow them to harden a bit. You do this by leaving them in the ground for up to a month after the tops have completely died back.
During the hardening process, keep the potatoes dry with no watering. If it begins to rain or the weather turns out wet than expected, it’s a good idea to dig the potatoes out. You will not be able to harden off the potatoes with these conditions. But you can safely harvest and bring your potatoes indoors.
After digging your potatoes, do not leave them under the sun for long, otherwise, they will turn green. Green potatoes have a bitter taste and if eaten can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Small green spots can be trimmed off but significant greening must be thrown away.
Storing The Dug Up Potatoes
Now that you have your potatoes harvested, brush off excess dirt before storing them indoors. Once done store them in a cool dark and dry place away from direct light. If your potato harvest will not last for long, you can store them anywhere. Storage will not be an issue for you. But if the harvest is abundant, store them in a proper place. You can also store them in the fridge for up to 2 months, stored in a plastic zip bag or well wrapped in plastic to keep them firm and fresh.
If you choose to wash your potatoes before storing them in the refrigerator, be sure to dry them well to prevent rotting. If you have hardened your potatoes before harvesting them and plan to store them over the winter, do not wash them. Brush off the excess soil and store them in a dark dry area. The dirty spuds will dry indoors but leaving them under the sun will be damaging them. Keep your potatoes dry to avoid rot!
Potatoes are one of America’s favorite vegetables. Each year, every American person consumes about 125 pounds of potatoes. Potatoes are naturally healthy, they are fat-free and cholesterol-free. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of potassium.
Potatoes are a staple food to Americans, and most gardeners love to grow their own. Knowing how to grow, and harvest your own is important to give you plenty to enjoy throughout winter. What are you waiting for, go ahead and grow your own!