Hey Kiddos! It's Time to Dig Potatoes!
You may be wondering how do you know when to dig up potatoes, well that's easy! Here are a few ways you can tell when it's time:
- Notice when the potato plants start dying. This is a signal that the potatoes will be ready soon. Wait for the plants to die completely, and once they have done so, they should be ready.
- Check your calendar to see when you planted, and then do a test harvest after they've been growing for 3 months. Potatoes generally mature in 3 months, but they may need a little more time to get bigger and let their skins toughen.
Now that you know when, here's how:
- Choose a dry day.
- First try pulling the stem of the plant straight up out of the ground. Usually some potatoes will come up with the stem, like in the picture here.
From the Copeland Garden this morning
- Next, use your hand to feel around in the area where you just pulled the plant to see if you feel any more potatoes close to the surface. If you do, gently brush the soil away with your hands and pull the potatoes out.
- Now use a shovel to dig deeper for any potatoes growing further in the ground. Dig up gently, being careful not to damage the tubers.Avoid cutting or bruising potato skin. Damaged potatoes will rot during storage and should be used as soon as possible.
- Don’t leave potatoes in the sun for long after they have been dug, otherwise your potatoes may turn green. Green potatoes have a bitter taste and can make you sick if enough of the green part is eaten. Small spots can be trimmed off, but if there is significant greening, throw the potato out. This is also true for potatoes that have been growing too close to the surface. Check potatoes that have been exposed to the sun while growing for green spots.
- Put any tiny potatoes (smaller than 2 inches) back in the soil to keep growing or start new potatoes on their own next year.
Lastly, here's how to store your potatoes:
- Allow freshly dug potatoes to sit in a dry, cool place, 45-60°F, for up to two weeks. This allows their skins to cure/ toughen, which will help them keep for longer.
- After curing, brush off any soil clinging to the potatoes, then store potatoes in a cool, dark place, preferably 45° to 50°F, (but not in the refrigerator) with good ventilation. When properly stored, potatoes will remain fresh for up to a month.
- Whether you dig your own potatoes or buy them at a store, don’t wash them until right before you use them. Washing potatoes shortens their storage life.
I hope most of you planted potatoes at home, but if you didn't, make sure to get in on the fun next year!