So that you sprouted, minimize, and dried your seed potatoes within the spring. You dug your trenches, mounded your soil, watered, and waited.
You watched because the sprouts grew into lush inexperienced stems. And when the stems began to yellow and die again, you knew it was time to strike!
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Let’s get all the way down to the enterprise of digging up these spuds.
Easy methods to Harvest
You should utilize bigger instruments like shovels and pitchforks or hand instruments like trowels and claws to reap, or – in case your soil is shallow and smooth sufficient, as mine is – your garden-gloved fingers.
Utilizing spades and shovels tends to lead to chopped-up tubers, although, so backyard forks or fingers are beneficial.
In case your potato vegetation nonetheless have robust stems, you may pull them as much as begin the harvesting course of.
You’ll typically get just a few smaller specimens clinging to the roots. To get the remainder of the spuds, or in case your stems have completely died again, gently dig a number of inches away from the bottom of every plant and carry the soil up. Seize any potatoes that include it.
Use gloved fingers to sift by means of the upturned soil to ensure you get each final one. Don’t overlook to dig down deep so that you gained’t go away any specimens underground, the place they may rot or sprout subsequent season (which could not jibe together with your planting or crop rotation plans).
Now that the “how,” let’s check out timing.
When to Harvest
For “new” potatoes – an exquisite midsummer deal with – you may harvest when a few third of the potato greenery has began to yellow or die again.
These potatoes shall be on the smaller facet, they usually’ll have a really delicate pores and skin that’s straightforward for shovels, forks, and even gloved fingers to break. They’ll even be scrumptious.
This could be a good time to examine on and harvest only a few potatoes to see how they’re coming alongside when it comes to measurement and pores and skin texture – should you’re planning to retailer potatoes, or if you need greater spuds, they’ll want a number of extra weeks to develop. Prep and luxuriate in your check potatoes now for a scrumptious preview of future harvests.
Make sure to get even the little marble-sized goodies. A farmer I do know offered these not too long ago in half-pint containers as “peanut potatoes.” In the event you’re roasting, grilling, or frying your spuds, these little guys with their excessive skin-to-flesh ratio crisp up actually properly.
Now that your potatoes are prepared, you may harvest your spuds suddenly, or as you want them through the hardening-off course of, which I’ll talk about within the subsequent part.
I have a tendency to reap the potatoes from every of my planting areas (in my case, raised beds and containers) suddenly, however I do that in levels.
I’ll harvest one container or mattress’s price in order that the rising area turns into obtainable for different crops sooner. However I nonetheless have just a few extra beds or container’s price of potatoes to reap in following weeks. That method, that I’ve obtained a fairly good provide that can take me from midsummer to Labor Day.
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In addition to retaining my root cellar or fridge stocked, this permits me to release containers or sections of plots for sowing fall crops like carrots, beets, and lettuce.
Talking of fall, you may wish to hold a big crop of potatoes recent for a number of months previous harvest time. Thankfully, there’s a easy course of that may make it easier to to do exactly that.
In the event you’d like your potato skins to be extra agency, or should you’re planning to retailer them long-term, go away them within the floor for as much as a month after the tops have completely died again.
Make sure to hold them dry – no watering! Utilized irrigation and even heavy rains may cause your potatoes to rot or sprout at this level, so plan your harvest accordingly.
If there’s a lot of moist climate within the forecast or a frost is developing, it’s a good suggestion to reap your remaining spuds earlier than this level – sadly you gained’t be capable to harden off underground with these situations. However you may harvest your potatoes and convey them indoors to proceed the hardening off course of should you’re coping with rain or frost.
Now that your potatoes have been unearthed, brush off any extra filth and retailer them indoors in a cool, darkish, dry place.
You may as well retailer them within the fridge for as much as 2 months, wrapped nicely in plastic or saved in a zip-top bag to maintain them agency and recent.
I’ve had success doing this with each unwashed and washed potatoes. In the event you select to scrub and refrigerate yours, make certain they’ve been dried nicely earlier than storing in plastic to stop rot.
In the event you’ve hardened off your haul and plan to retailer your potatoes over the winter, don’t wash them! Brush off extra soil, let the soiled spuds dry indoors (out of the solar to keep away from damaging or sprouting the specimens), after which hold them dry to keep away from rot.
It’s superb if some dry soil clings to the skins of the potatoes. Examine your haul rigorously and cull any with cuts, gashes, or damaged pores and skin – they gained’t hold nicely, however you should use them shortly with no ailing results.
It’s additionally an excellent rule of thumb to drag smaller potatoes out of your storage inventory earlier than bigger ones – smaller taters don’t have fairly the retaining energy of bigger specimens.
The perfect temperature for long-term potato storage is round 50°F. You’ll wish to stash them in a darkish place – no gentle in anyway! – in a well-ventilated container. A wicker basket, paper or mesh bag, plastic storage bin with cutouts, or a cardboard field will do the trick.
You probably have a cool, dry, darkish basement or different space for storing, that’s nice for this. And should you’re fortunate sufficient to have an precise root cellar, that’s good!
Understand that you’ll wish to restrict entry to hungry critters as a lot as attainable.
In any other case, a pantry or closet that can keep darkish and funky for the long run and that isn’t accessible for pests to invade will do. Your potatoes ought to hold nicely this manner for a number of months.
Extra Potato Ideas
Now, for just a few vital professional suggestions:
1. Don’t Eat the Inexperienced Ones…
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As you get pleasure from your homegrown potatoes, you could discover that the pores and skin of your spuds has taken on a inexperienced tint. You’ll typically see this on the grocery retailer as nicely – don’t purchase these!
This implies your potatoes have been uncovered to gentle, which will increase ranges of alkaloids and creates a toxin referred to as solanine that’s toxic to people. This will additionally create a bitter taste in your potatoes.
To keep away from greening, you should definitely hold them in the dead of night, with no gentle publicity throughout storage in anyway.
Whereas I positively suggest avoiding any absolutely inexperienced potatoes solely, specimens with only a trace of inexperienced on their pores and skin can nonetheless be eaten safely, so long as you chop away that portion.
2. …Or the Seeds
As your potatoes develop to maturity, however earlier than the inexperienced tops begin to die again, you could discover what seem like tiny inexperienced cherry tomatoes rising among the many leaves. These are the seeds of the potato.
Please resist the urge to pop them in your mouth whereas weeding such as you would a Sungold, as a result of they’re poisonous!
Additionally they gained’t provide the similar potatoes, even should you have been to avoid wasting and plant them subsequent yr. Since potatoes don’t develop true from seed, we propagate them vegetatively, by saving seed potatoes from one yr to the subsequent.
Since illness could be handed down from season to season this manner, it’s beneficial that you just at all times supply trusted seed potatoes annually.
3. A Notice on Rotation
I’ve touched on it already, however I’d like to supply another be aware about rotation, with an city rising tip:
Rising potatoes and tomatoes on a three-year rotation is beneficial – which means that if you wish to develop these crops yearly, you’ll want to keep up three separate beds or containers.
This minimizes the possibility that you just’ll exhaust the soil and construct up pests or plant ailments in a single mattress such as you may should you plant these crops in the identical place time and again.
In my very own backyard, I additionally develop in straight compost, since I can get it without cost. Yields appear fairly good to date, though the crops would profit from one thing a bit lighter, I’m positive. YMMV.
Since I plant my potatoes in a collection of raised beds and containers in numerous group gardens (in addition to my very own entrance yard), I be sure to construct up my raised mattress soil ranges – which inevitably drop all through every season – by emptying my spent potato container soil right into a spent potato or tomato mattress.
This fashion, I’m retaining my rotation correctly, and the beds I take advantage of that didn’t develop potatoes or tomatoes this season shall be prepared for them the subsequent season.
Now that you just’re armed with the instruments you want to reap and retailer your spuds, it’s time to search out your pitchfork and get digging!
Whereas a easy toss with olive oil, salt, and herbs (like this one) often does it for me, I additionally love melting an Alpine-style cheese over boiled or roasted taters, Raclette-style.
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