There aren’t many activities in the garden which are done by the whole family. I mean, if I’m watering my tomatoes, my nephew can join me, but that’s it. However, there’s one thing you can do as a family; in fact, the more, the merrier. Let’s see how to harvest potatoes, shall we?
As always when writing, I’ll do my best to keep things clear, sharp and to the point. Just follow the instructions, and you will be alright.
Prepare Your Tools (And Space)
Since potatoes are tubers and are growing below the soil level, you will need some kind of tool to dig them out. For this purpose, I suggest you use a hoe and be careful with it, or more convenient gardening fork.
Also, you will need a few baskets to carry the potatoes around, so be sure that those are strong and without holes. Alternately, if you don’t have those, a bucket will do the trick just fine. In case that you are harvesting young potatoes, you won’t need the last item, since the amount of tubers will be less significant.
Regarding space, you will need a cool area, with the temperature not lower than 40°F. If the basement fulfills those conditions, use it. Sweep the area, so that there is no dust or dirt which can cause the tubers to rot. Also, crates will be helpful, so if you have those, great. If not, you can always make one.
Know When The Time Is Right
There are two time frames for harvesting. Depending on your taste and preference, you can choose whether you want “baby” potatoes which can be baked with the skin, or you want to wait and have fully matured ones. Finally, you can do both.
For the first case, wait about 2-3 weeks after the plant stopped flowering. You can dig out one and see if it can be used. If the answer is affirmative, proceed with digging as much as you need. Later, when you notice that the foliage begins to brown, know that the time for harvesting draws near. After it dies completely, wait a couple of weeks, and the adult potatoes will be ready for harvesting.
Baby potatoes can be harvested more easily because there is still plant attached to tubers. Take it by the base, and pull it out of the ground. Now, take the fork and carefully probe the area around the potato hill, to unearth some tubers which may have remained in the ground. See that you don’t cut the tubers, but if you do, it’s not a big deal, they’ll be used soon.
When you are harvesting potatoes for storing, the things are a bit more complicated. First of all, don’t water the plants for a few days before harvesting. The soil will be dry and easy to work with. Of course, the foliage should be dry already and removed a couple of weeks before planned harvesting.
Now, with your family at the ready, baskets prepared, start digging out the tubers. By using a fork, dig a few inches further from the hill where the potatoes were. In time, you will know how to judge where to dig, so you will be able to use a hoe for this procedure.
Don’t forget to wipe the dirt which will remain on the surface, and transfer the tubers to a cool area where there is shade. It is highly recommended to avoid sunlight, since its influence will turn the tubers green, and they will rot faster.
If there are tubers which are damaged or bruised in the process, separate those, and use them first. This is what I do, to cut down the percentage of wasted food.
Storing The Tubers
The procedure of storing is rather similar to that used for sweet potatoes. The difference is that the temperature in the room should remain in the range of 45°–60°F. During this procedure called “curing”, the tubers will form the second skin which will protect it from damage.
After this, transfer them to the basement where they will spend the following few months. I tend to check them out once in every few weeks, just to see that there are no spoiled or rotten ones. This is what I advise you, so if you see any going bad, remove them.
So, now you know how to harvest potatoes, and as you can see, it is not a big deal. Follow the instructions, and there shouldn’t be any trouble. In case that you need some additional advice, feel free to contact me by using the comment section below.