How to Grow and Harvest Potatoes
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You say potato, I say patahto, potato, patahto, let’s plant a crop of potatoes!
This blog post covers when to plant potatoes, how they grow, and when to harvest potatoes for maximum benefit.
Plant potatoes in the ground and water them regularly
It would be best if you planted seed potatoes in the soil about an inch deep, and once they sprout, you should cover the potato plants further. If you want taller potato plants, continue covering them with soil. However, if your aim is for shorter potato plants, all you have to do is cover the lower part of the tuber with soil.
For best results, planting seed potatoes in soil containing lots of organic material is recommended. Potato plants and tubers are heavy feeders, so you can add fertilizer immediately after planting them.
The best time for planting seed potatoes would be in early spring or late summer/fall, and potato plants and the tubers underneath should mature between 80 and 100 days after planting (90 days is a safe bet.)
Plant potatoes with plenty of time to harvest before your first frost to protect your harvest. You can start stealing new potatoes from the vines; sooner than that, they’ll just be smaller than the mature version.
Potato foliage will blossom into potato flowers and sometimes grow small berries. These small berries are perfectly normal when growing potatoes but don’t eat the berries; they’re poisonous.
Harvesting potatoes throughout the season gives you new potatoes and baby potatoes, but you’re ready to harvest once all the potato foliage has died before harvesting potatoes for storage.
When should you harvest potatoes?
Potatoes should be ready to harvest in about four months, depending on how much you want to grow at once. Pay close attention to the vines to know when to harvest potatoes. The vines should be thoroughly dried up, and the leaves wilted. You can also let them turn yellow or red before harvesting them.
Get yourself a potato fork to make harvesting your homegrown potatoes much easier. Drive your fork deep into the soil and pull all the dirt up while shaking it to make it easier to harvest potatoes.
Many different potato varieties come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, including white, red, purple, and blue eggplant (to name a few). All sorts of potatoes are acceptable to grow for food, but you should choose locally adapted cultivars.
You can dig potatoes in many different ways depending on what you want to do with them. You can harvest potatoes by pulling whole potato plants, cutting the vine, and leaving the tubers attached, or cut the vine and remove each tuber individually.
Ensure you harvest all your potatoes at least one week before your first frost. Frost can damage the skins, making them susceptible to insects and diseases. Freshly dug potatoes need to be cured and dried before you can store potatoes for an extended period. However, you can use freshly dug potatoes as baby potatoes or new potatoes right away to eat if you’re not planning on storing them.
When and how should you store potatoes?
Once you’ve dug your potato crop, you’ll need to prepare them so you can store potatoes long-term. Typically, the best place to store your potatoes is in a dark, cool place like an attic, root cellar, or basement.
Cover your main crop potatoes with dry straw, sawdust, leaves, or sand for insulation. Then, check every day to see if they are sprouting. If they do sprout, it is best to eat them right away. You can eat the smaller baby potatoes right out of the ground.
If you do not plan on eating your potatoes right away, make sure you have cool and dark conditions to store potatoes until it’s time to use them. While it’s easy to grow potatoes, many people have issues with having enough space to store them after the harvest. Make sure you grow potatoes you like and only enough plants that you have room to store. In particular, I am a fan of this potato (and onion) box.
Potatoes will last the longest if the soil temperature never exceeds 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). As soon as they are exposed to lower temperatures for more than a few days, the starch in potatoes turns into sugar; this gives them an off-flavor and makes them lose their appeal. You can pick up a simple soil thermometer that can be used for just about anything you plant.
However, if you want to store them through the winter, make sure they are exposed to lower temperatures for only a few days at a time. This will prevent sugar buildup and keep your potatoes taste great!
Now you know how to grow and when to harvest potatoes.
Potatoes are versatile vegetables that can be grown in many ways for your diet. Whether you want to grow them from seed, purchase plants, or even order potatoes online, various methods and techniques are available to ensure the best possible yield.
Potatoes store well when harvested at the right time and stored correctly, which makes it easy to enjoy fresh potatoes all year round! Remember to harvest them before your first frost and let them cure and dry before storing them away.
Interested in how to grow and harvest other veggies? Check out some of our other articles on vegetable gardening!