Potatoes are a staple in many home kitchens and home gardens. Many growers have questions about when to harvest potatoes for the biggest yield and when to pick potatoes to enjoy tasty new potatoes. Learn when do you dig up potatoes for the tastiest tuber.
New potatoes, or baby potatoes, are generally harvested earlier than mature potatoes. These delicious spuds are smaller and usually more tender and creamy than their adult counterparts harvested later. As soon as your potato plant flowers, it’s safe to start gently digging up a few new potatoes from the periphery of the root system while still allowing your plant to grow.
Before the plant sets flowers, there may be no potatoes available, and it’s best to wait. Once the root system is harvested, potato plants are tricky to replant. Usually, they don’t thrive after being dug up, so it pays to ask questions like, when are potatoes ready to harvest? The perfect timing is critical for harvesting potatoes and ensures you get the most delicate baby potatoes or time it just right for the highest yield of delicious mature spuds.
Everything to Know about When to Pick Potatoes
Gardeners often struggle to identify when are potatoes ready to harvest and when to pick potatoes for the best yield. Your potatoes can take up to several months to grow for the tastiest spuds. By following a few simple care guidelines and knowing when to harvest potatoes, this is a fun and productive crop to add to your home garden.
Growing Potatoes at Home – Hilling
Growing potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) is different from growing other veggies in containers, raised bed, or the ground. The hilling technique is used in potato cultivation, where the gardener gradually covers the plant’s stem with several inches of soil as it grows by heaping additional earth around the base of the plant.
The deeper buried stems develop new tubers as the hilled garden soil increases. As a result, hilling is essential for getting the most out of your potato plants. Burying the stems avoids greening or producing green potatoes which contain solanine by ensuring the new potatoes aren’t exposed to light.
The hilling procedure alters somewhat when growing potatoes in containers, yet the principles remain the same: use a garden fork to cover the seed potatoes with soil after sowing lightly. As the crop grows, more potting soil is heaped around it regularly until the vessel fills.
Potato Growing Season
The majority of potato types have a growing season lasting virtually all year. Growing spuds throughout late summer in frigid northern locations and growing potatoes in the fall, winter, and spring in hot summer southern regions is possible.
If you keep your container outside or direct sow, plant potatoes whenever the local soil temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit, typically 4-6 weeks before the final hard frosts in spring.
Regarding scheduling, growing potatoes in pots is identical to growing them in the garden. The general rule is to plant in-ground potatoes two weeks after the last frost in your area.
Because the soil heats up fast when exposed to sunlight above ground, you may be able to bring the planting date forward a few weeks when planting in containers. If a late April frost is predicted, be prepared to cover or transfer your potato containers indoors.
Starting Seed Potatoes and Preparing a Planting Site
Use high-quality, quick-draining potting soil containing perlite to plant potatoes. Organic soils are another excellent choice. Add organic fertilizer to the potting soil. In addition to this first feeding, feed your potatoes with a diluted liquid fertilizer such as manure tea every couple of weeks.
Combine the ingredients in your pot. To increase the soil’s nutritional content, give it a good shake and pour it on top of the plant. Potatoes grown in containers demand a lot of water, depleting soil nutrients., so containerized plants often require more nourishment than plants grown in the ground.
Use organic mature potatoes from the grocery store as seed potatoes to avoid a trip to the garden center. Cut seed potatoes into small chunks with a minimum of two growth nodes or eyes, where sprouting and stalk development occurs. Allow the production of a scab on the cut surfaces by letting them sit for a few days before planting.
Planting Seed Potatoes
Preparing the soil and inserting the seed potatoes into your prepared container or bed are the first steps in planting potatoes in pots. Placing the container in direct sunlight or choosing a site in full sun is a good idea.
Fill the container halfway with potting soil mixed with compost and fertilizer. Place the eye buds facing up in the potting mix. Potatoes should be planted about eight inches deep to allow them to grow properly.
Allow ample area for the plant to breathe because it grows rather large; this also helps keep it disease-free. A 20-inch-wide container, for example, may hold roughly four seed potatoes, which may not seem like much at first, though the volume of your harvest may surprise you.
Use a couple of inches of potting soil to cover the seed potatoes. It is recommended you use one to four inches of dirt. In a cooler climate like Colorado, the less soil you add on top, the better. Potatoes from eyes typically grow in four months after planting, depending on the climate and location.
Potato Plant Care
Potatoes cannot develop without the sun and water. Ensure your plant gets plenty of direct sunlight, at least 6-8 hours every day. Take care to water your newly planted potatoes thoroughly. One of the most crucial aspects for gardeners growing potatoes is to keep the soil damp but not wet.
Inspect the soil at least once a day. Check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the dirt at least one inch deep. If your potato plant appears dry, it is ready to be watered. If it’s especially hot, high humidity, or windy, water your potato plants more frequently. Mulch aids in the retention of soil moisture.
When are Potatoes Ready to Harvest?
Knowing when to dig up potatoes is crucial for the best harvest. When is it time to harvest potatoes in containers? The beauty of potatoes is after the tubers have begun to set, you may dig them up at any moment to harvest potatoes. There are different landmarks to look for depending on the size of potatoes you prefer.
For new or baby potatoes, start harvesting young or baby potatoes once most of your potato plants have begun to blossom. This springtime delight of creamy, tender early potatoes is not to be missed.
For full-size potatoes, you’ll have to wait a little longer. When your main crop of potatoes is ready, all of the leaves on your potato plants turn yellow or brown, and the plants begin to fall over; this indicates the plant has expended its energy on the tubers, and it is now time to dig.
If you notice spots, pests like potato beetles, or other disease symptoms on the leaves, or if only part of your plants is dying, it may not be the natural conclusion of the plant’s life cycle, and you should look for potato illnesses.
How and When to Harvest Potatoes
Potato harvest time rolls around when you have potatoes ready to pick. Reach down into the earth and pull out a handful of fresh baby potatoes at a time. Harvest all remaining potatoes at the same time when the plants turn yellow and die back late in the season.
The simplest method is to turn the container over and spill the contents onto a tarp or dig up the entire bed. Rummage about in the dirt in pursuit of every potato. If you stumble across a few small potatoes, don’t discard them. Those are some of the sweetest potatoes, perfect for using whole in a stew.
Storing Your Potatoes
After harvesting new potatoes, store them properly to extend their shelf life and allow you to use them longer and with less waste. Cook your potatoes immediately, or set them aside for later. Before keeping them, start by wiping off any dirt and letting them dry for a few days.
Potatoes keep best stored in paper bags or baskets because they allow them to breathe. Store potatoes in a dark place such as the root cellar, and eat them throughout the season. When in storage, potatoes must stay cool and dry. You will know when a potato is bad by its smell and if it feels mushy. Sprouted potatoes are still safe to eat but do so quickly.
Before using your potatoes for a special recipe or baking them, scrub and wash your potatoes properly to eliminate all specks of dirt.
Whether you love tender fingerling potatoes, hope to grow large russet bakers, or are eager to try your hand at new potato varieties, producing your own potatoes is a straightforward and rewarding project with the potential to yield a lot of food.
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