- How Long Does It Take To Grow Potatoes?
- How Long Does It Take To Grow Potatoes
- Growing Potatoes: Useful Tips
- Final Thoughts
- How Long does it Take to Grow Potatoes? Grow a Healthy Potatoes
- Tips for Growing Potatoes
- When to harvest potatoes in garden beds and containers
- When to harvest potatoes?
- How to harvest potatoes
- How to store potatoes
- What You Will Learn
- How to Harvest
- When to Harvest
- Hardening Off
- Proper Storage
- More Potato Tips
- Dig In!
NOW is the time of year to consider which seed potatoes to plant – and with more than 100 varieties available, it is important to know how long various types take to grow, their taste and best cooking uses for when they are ready.
It is tempting to harvest potatoes as soon as possible to enjoy them in meals but different varieties can take anything from 70 to 120 days to grow.
So, while the early-season potatoes will be ready to consume by the end of May or early June, others will need a bit more patience.
If you want to store some of your produce to eat in the winter, you will need to pick the late-harvesting type.
Because each potato has its best use, you should mark them well when planting, with a date so that you know when to harvest.
Here are 14 of the most common varieties – how long they need and how you can cook them once they are ready.
EARLIES (70-80 DAYS)
Sirtema: A good all-rounder for steaming or frying
Belle de Fontenay: Standard shape, firm, fast development (70 days).
Chérie: A pinkskinned long spud with an excellent taste.
Annabelle: Handsome oval shape, good for salad or steaming.
Amandine: More rounded, for all-round cooking. We have had great success with these in the past but not the last few years.
MID-SEASON: 100 DAYS
Mona Lisa: Well-known and reliable, big potatoes for roasting, au gratin, frying or mashed.
Bernadette: Very clean, medium size, for salad or steaming.
Rose of France: Beautiful, long, pink-skinned, for salad or steaming.
Charlotte: Long shape, good colour, for all sorts of cooking.
LATE HARVESTING: 120 DAYS-PLUS
Caesar: Plentiful cropper, medium size, ideal for drying or roasting. Very resistant to diseases.
Bleue d’Artois: Purple-skinned, for mashing and steaming, this type keeps its colour after cooking.
Désirée: Pink-skinned and large, yellowcoloured flesh, tasty mashed or fried.
Vitelotte: Purple-skinned and fleshed, cooks well, tasty.
Corne de Gatte: Pink, slightly lumpy skin, pale yellow flesh, but particularly tasty hot or cold.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Potatoes?
Potatoes are probably some of the most inexpensive vegetables you can buy at the local supermarket. They are used as the base of many main dishes or side dishes, they can be used in bread recipes, to make pasta or even sweets.
Because potatoes are extremely simply to grow in the most unexpected conditions, such as in a shopping bag, many people with a passion for gardening decide to grow their own potatoes at home. And the question that arises is: how long does it take to grow potatoes?
Read on to find out!
How Long Does It Take To Grow Potatoes
A question with many answers. In fact, how long it takes to grow potatoes depend on the variety of potatoes you seeded. There are three main types of potatoes, each of them having a different maturation time.
The early varieties of potatoes, as their name suggests, have shorter maturation times and are usually fully grown and ready to harvest in less than 90 days from seeding. For this reason, they could be a good fit if you live in a cool region or if you want to harvest an early crop. Some varieties of early potatoes are King Harry, a variety resistant to potato beetles, Caribe, which has a purple skin and Red Norland, a very prolific variety.
The midseason varieties usually reach their maturity in about 100 days from seeding and are ideal to be planted if you live in a warm region.
If you want to produce enough potatoes to store throughout the winter, you should probably opt for a late variety. Potatoes in this category usually need about 110 days to mature, are ideal to be grown in warm climates and store extremely well for longer periods.
For all potato types described above, you can start harvesting them as soon as you notice the first large-enough tubers. You don’t have to wait for the potatoes to reach their full-size and the small, young tubers are tasty and tender.
Growing Potatoes: Useful Tips
Regardless of what variety of potatoes you choose to grow, there are a few growing tips you should follow.
1. Start with certified tubers
Technically, each potato tuber equals a potato seed. Your potato plants will actually grow from the tubers you will plant in the ground, and you can virtually use any tuber for this purpose.
However, I strongly suggest you should start growing potatoes from certified tubers bought from a local nursery. Potatoes sold in supermarkets are usually treated against sprouting and even if you will probably be able to grow a plant from a supermarket potato, the plant will probably be weaker and more prone to diseases.
2. Pre-sprout your potatoes indoors
If you want to diminish the growing time, start your crop with pre-sprout potatoes. To do this, place the seed tubers in a warm and well-lit room about five weeks before the seeding. You will notice the sprouts starting to come out from the tubers and your potatoes will be ready to harvest about one month before the standard maturation time.
3. Fertilize wisely
With potatoes, you should use half of the fertilizer when seeding them and the other half should be added as the plants grow up if needed.
4. Mulch heavily
Potatoes need a lot of moist to grow well, so the most logical thing to do is to keep the soil moist by applying a generous layer of mulch. You can use either shredded leaves, straws or plastic mulch, either type is equally suitable.
5. Cover the potatoes
If you already seeded your potatoes and a late frost is announced, use an old blanket to cover the seedlings. This will prevent them from being nipped back and the stems will continue growing as soon as you remove the blanket.
Alternatively, you could leave the potatoes to frost but they maturation period will be longer.
6. Plant new crops as soon as you harvest the potatoes
Especially if you planted an early variety, don’t just let that spot stay vacant after you harvested the potatoes. The soil in which potatoes have grown is rich in nutrients and you can easily plant other crops such as squash, beans, or tomatoes.
How long does it take to grow potatoes is not a mystery anymore. Now, you only have to decide how long you want to wait before tasting your first, tender, organic potato.
Do you have any questions or tips? Please leave us a comment below.
And don’t forget to keep a few tubers from your crop to seed the next spring!
How Long does it Take to Grow Potatoes? Grow a Healthy Potatoes
One special thing is that you can grow your own vegetables and fruits from home. If you have a small room or garden at home, please use it to grow vegetables for your own needs, here I will explain how to grow potatoes. This extraordinary effort will provide healthy and pesticide-free vegetables. This is a tremendous advantage, you buy vegetables in the market, most likely they have been contaminated with pesticides and chemicals.
If you are a beginner in farming, start from growing vegetables that are easy to grow first. Planting potatoes are easy because it is easy to grow without intensive care. In this article, you will find the procedure for planting potatoes and answers to many beginner questions about how long does it take to grow potatoes. In fact, I will provide other useful information regarding potato plants and this is will bring you to the top of success.
img credit to homesteading.com
Tips for Growing Potatoes
Choose the Right Seed or Potato
The important thing to pay attention to growing potatoes is the type of potato that is planted. Potatoes have several varieties and it affects your harvest. See the following table about the types of potatoes that are good for planting in the climate of your place.
|Types of Potatoes||
How Long Does it Take to Grow?
This is the fastest variety for harvesting, planting this type of potato you can harvest it in just 90 days. Among these famous varieties are Irish Cobbler and King Harry
This variety is longer than the previous variety, sometimes you have to wait more than a hundred days to be able to harvest. These varieties will grow well when planted in areas with warmer climates. Among the famous varieties are Yukon Gold and Red LaSoda. Although harvesting longer, but the results will be more.
|This variety also takes a long time to be ready for harvest. You have to wait 110 days or even longer. However, this variety will produce more potatoes. In addition, this variety has higher durability so you can store longer harvests. Among the famous in this variety are Kennebec and Butte.|
Elongated Fingerling Potatoes
|This variety is very well known and is fast selling on the market. If you want to grow potatoes on a large scale to market, maybe this variety is the best for you.|
When, How and Where to Plant Potatoes
Here are some important questions to know the answer. So, before I answer the main question about how long does it take to grow potatoes. I have to make sure you in advance to make no mistake in growing potatoes and all processes during the growth period, whether it is about planting, time or care. Pay attention to the following!
Time to plant potatoes
Now, after choosing the right potato variety, you must choose the right time so that your potatoes have enough time to be able to mature optimally. For two weeks before the last frost, you are expected to have planted potatoes. Before planting, you should keep the seeds in the refrigerator for some time, this helps to germinate faster when you plant them.
If the climate in your area is very hot, while spring is too short, you should choose early or mid-season varieties, and this should be planted for 4 weeks before the end of winter. But if the season in your area is rather cold, be sure to plant your potatoes two weeks before the ice ends. This applies to all the varieties of potatoes you plant.
A place to grow potatoes
Places to grow potatoes also need to be noticed, potatoes need a place that is exposed to the sun in full. In addition, the soil must be loose and dry. Do not plant in a place where frequent freezing occurs because the effect can damage the growing leaves. Before starting planting, mix the soil with compost to increase fertility and plant nutrition.
You no need to be afraid of weeds because potatoes tend to grow quickly and the leaves are lush. It is will damage the weeds that grow. For growing it, make a ditch for 4 inches deep and one foot wide. Enter the potato seeds there with buds (where the shoots will appear) facing up.
Besides planting potatoes on open land, I have also tried planting potatoes in containers and pots and this also works. The method for planting potatoes in a container is easy, take a container at least one meter high and 70 cm or 100 cm in diameter. Fill the soil mixed with compost for 1/3 container and add the potato seeds, cover with 1 inch of soil above it. See our article on how to grow potatoes in containers.
Treatment for potato plants
Potatoes are plants that need sunlight at all times, but these plants also need a lot of water or pay attention to keeping the media moist. When the potato seeds begin to grow, you need to water regularly. Don’t just rely on rain but this can help you.
Another treatment is to clean the weeds and hill the plant before the flowers bloom. You can do this when your plants have risen about 6 inches. Hoes and stem parts to help root growth and tuber formation.
The process of hilling the plant should be done every two weeks. If you plant it in a container, you only need to add soil to the container as you leave it. Hilling the plant is also important to prevent potato tubers from forming outside the soil. If this happens the tubers will turn green due to sunburn, and the taste is bitter and poisonous.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Potatoes?
time to harvest
Now it’s at the end of the article and it’s time for me to answer the basic questions about how long does it take to grow potatoes. Why is this so important? You must know this because you need to harvest potatoes on time so you get the optimal potatoes and have a good taste.
The potato harvest time is when the top of the plant dies. When the plant dies, then most of the starch will be stored in tubers, this makes the potatoes so tasty and delicious.
Besides the above sign, the factor that determines your harvest is the temperature of the soil. So, you have to dig and harvest potatoes before the ice season comes even though some potatoes are resistant to this situation. But I do not recommend you to wait. Harvesting or you regret because your potatoes decompose due to decreased soil temperature.
Soil temperature ideally should be above 45 F. If you want to know for sure, you can use a soil temperature gauge.
New Baby Potatoes Picture from theguardian.com
Wondering how to go about growing those lovely, new, baby potatoes for early summer eating?
Potatoes need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day and nice, loose, soil that drains well.
They grow well in soil that is slightly acidic or neutral. Sweet soils (alkaline) may cause scab to occur so do not lime your spud bed.
Add compost, manure and organic matter to your bed annually. This keeps your soil healthy and healthy soil gives you healthy crops. Organic gardening is all about feeding your soil to feed your plants, thus no need to additionally fertilise any veggies in a garden with healthy soil.
Spuds like potash aka potassium (the K in the N-P-K) so if you have a source of kelp or seaweed, add that to your potato bed and you will have lovely spuds. If you do not have access to the actual seaweed, you can spray some liquid seaweed onto the soil, before or during the growing process. You can also spray the liquid seaweed right onto the foliage.
Choosing your spuds…
For the baby potatoes you want to choose early to mid season potatoes rather than the late ones. Think Warba, Yukon Gold, Norland, Chieftain ….
The new baby potatoes will be ready to harvest about 10 weeks after planting.
These chits are coming along nicely. Wait till they are about an inch long to plant up, if you can wait that long ; )
Chitting is the process of pre-sprouting your potatoes before planting, for earlier harvest.
To chit your potatoes, place them in an egg carton or tray, and set in a warm place for a couple of weeks until you see some chits aka sprouts. When these chits are about an inch long, you can plant them up.
If your seed potato is really large and has lots of eyes, you can cut it in half, or pieces that have at least two sets of eyes per piece. Set the pieces out to chit.
Never plant a newly cut potato, let it scab over for a few days prior to planting.
When To Plant…
In our area, you can generally plant your potatoes anywhere from the beginning of April to the middle of June. You have a large window of opportunity : )
You want the day time temps to be around 10 C for the soil to be warm enough that your seed potato does not rot in the ground. Plant when soil is warm-ish and dry or slightly moist, not wet!
Do not ever plant into cold, wet soil.
Spuds growing in trenches…
This is after the first hilling up and now ready for the next one!
Hill the soil around the plants so that just the top 2 inches of foliage is showing.
How To Plant…
I like to plant potatoes in trenches, the old-fashioned way ; )
Make a trench about 6 to 8 inches deep. Plant your seed potatoes 6″ to 8″ apart for new/baby potatoes, or 12 inches apart for the later, larger ones.
Cover with 4 inches of soil. When your green tops are about 6″ tall, add 4 more inches of soil, leaving just the top two inches above the soil.
Do this one more time until you have small hills around your tops.
Leave them to grow… water about once a week.
Grow spuds two ways in pots… Spuds alone… or as a mini-garden. My mini-garden contains Russian Blue potatoes and is topped with Red Romaine lettuce, mixed onion seedlings, and Swiss Chard
Alternately…. Growing in pots!
If you do not have the garden space or do not wish to use the garden space for spuds, but still want new, baby potatoes, you can grow them in pots. Make sure they have lots of great drainage holes!
Fill your pot about 1/4 of the way up, 3 to 4 inches deep, with organic potting soil (a soil-less mix). You can add compost to your potting mix for more nutrients ( I would use a 2 to 5 ratio with your compost). You can also mix in some organic, granular, vegetable fertiliser.
I went with a 3 gallon pot, so placed 2 seed potatoes into the pot. If you go with a larger pot, you can pop in more seed potatoes, but keep in mind that less means bigger spuds ; )
Top up the pot with soil as the plants grow, as mentioned above with the trenching method…
Or … You can also use your pot as a mini-garden so no topping up needed.
For this method, you want to put about 4″ of soil at the bottom of the pot, pop in your seed spuds, and then fill the pot with soil to the top. Plant up the top with peas, onions, lettuce, spinach, Oriental greens, whatever you like.. I used a 5 gallon pot and 3 seed potatoes.
Won’t be long now till there are baby potatoes….
Harvesting your baby potatoes…
About 3 weeks after your potatoes have flowered, which is about 10 weeks after planting, you can begin to harvest your new baby potatoes.
Carefully root around the sides and remove the largest of baby spuds, leaving the smaller ones to harvest later… or simply pull up the entire plant and harvest one plant at a time, as needed. Keep in mind though, that you will get all different sizes if you harvest the plant.
For the potted potatoes, simply dump the pot out in the garden or on a tarp, harvest your spuds, and add the soil to your garden beds or compost pile. Do not save soil to re-use.
Note: New baby potatoes are a treat that should be eaten the day they are harvested. They will not keep or store well.
If you want storage potatoes, leave the potatoes in the ground until till the tops of the plant begin to die back.
Cook any way you like ’em best … baked, roasted, boiled, smashed….
This pic above is from Jamie Oliver and HERE here is the link with corresponding recipe!
The recipe for the pic below of Smashed Garlic Baby Potatoes can be found HERE
When to harvest potatoes in garden beds and containers
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Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow producing a bounty of tasty tubers when planted in garden beds and containers. Plus, there’s so many awesome potato varieties to grow – from fingerlings to russets – in a rainbow of colors. But as the crop is produced below ground, it’s hard to tell when the tubers are ready to dig. So, how DO you know when to harvest potatoes?
Don’t wash potatoes after harvesting unless you’re about to eat them. Instead, cure them for one to two weeks and then store in a cool, dark place.
When to harvest potatoes?
Harvesting potatoes is so much fun, even the kids will want to help. It’s like digging for buried treasure – treasure you can eat! There are two main types of potatoes: new potatoes and storage potatoes, and both harvesting time and techniques differ between the two types. Because I want both new potatoes for summer cooking and storage potatoes for fall and winter, I plant at least one bed of each. Figuring out when to harvest potatoes can be a challenge for new gardeners, but once you know the basics, timing the harvest is a snap!
New Potatoes – All potatoes can be new potatoes if harvested when the tubers are still small and thin-skinned, about 50 to 55 days from planting for early maturing varieties. The first sign that new potatoes have formed is the appearance of the flowers. At that point, feel free to start harvesting.
Storage Potatoes – Storage potatoes, also called main-crop potatoes, are ready at the end of the growing season when the foliage has turned yellow and begun to dry. Some gardeners cut off the foliage while others allow it to die back naturally. Either way, the tubers need to be left in the ground for about two more weeks. This allows the skins to thicken up, which results in better storage quality.
Don’t be shy about trying some of the awesome varieties of potatoes available through catalogs and in garden centres. Caribe is a gorgeous purple skinned variety with bright white flesh. it’s not a long storage type, but makes a wonderful new potato.
How to harvest potatoes
Pick a dry day to harvest potatoes as moisture can spread disease and rot. What’s the best way to harvest? Carefully! Try to avoid piercing or slicing the potatoes when digging the tubers. If your spade does slip, eat damaged potatoes right away. I find it handy to keep a bowl nearby for damaged tubers which then head directly to the kitchen.
New Potatoes – When the plants begin to flower you can start harvesting new potatoes by reaching into the side of the hill and taking a few tubers from each plant. I use a gloved hand, not a tool, for this task as I don’t want to damage the plants and I want to keep my hands (relatively) clean. Once you’ve harvested a few new potatoes, push the soil back in place and mound it around the plants.
If harvesting new potatoes from a container or potato grow bag, reach into the soil to feel around for the tubers, taking just a few from each plant at any one time. After harvesting new potatoes from in-ground or container plants, feed them with a fish emulsion fertilizer to encourage healthy growth and more tubers.
Storage Potatoes – To harvest storage potatoes, insert a garden fork about a foot away from the plant and gently lift the root mass. There may still be a few potatoes in the ground, so use a gloved hand to feel around for any missed tubers. Once harvested, gently brush off caked on soil and allow them to dry off for an hour or so outdoors. Do not wash the tubers.
Container grown storage potatoes can be easily harvested by dumping the container onto a tarp or in a wheelbarrow. Sift through the soil with your hands to grab all of the tubers.
Kids love to help dig potatoes in the garden – and they may even eat their veggies!
How to store potatoes
Before they can be stored, potatoes need to go through a curing process. This helps the skin thicken up and extends the storage life of the tubers. To cure potatoes, lay them on newspaper, trays, or cardboard in a cool, dark spot (50 to 60 F, 10 to 15 C) with high humidity for one to two weeks. Pick a location that offers good air circulation.
Once cured, move the potatoes (removing any that have signs of damage) to bushel baskets, cardboard boxes (with ventilation holes poked in the sides), low baskets, or brown paper bags. You can also find multiple drawer harvest storage at many garden supply stores. Don’t pile them too deeply, however as that can encourage rot to spread. Cover containers with cardboard or sheets of newspaper to block light.
The storage area should be cooler than the curing site and be dark and well-ventilated. I use a corner of my basement, but a root cellar is best if you have one. Aim for a temperature of 40 to 45 F (4.5 to 7 C) with high humidity. Under ideal conditions, storage potatoes can retain quality for six to eight months. Check tubers regularly and remove any that show signs of rot or shrivelling.
The thin skin that makes new potatoes so appealing limits their storage life to weeks not months. Therefore, enjoy new potatoes soon after harvesting them.
For a tutorial on when to harvest potatoes and how to do it right, check out this video by Savvy’s Jessica Walliser.
Do you have any tips to add on when to harvest potatoes? Leave them in the comments below.
For more on growing potatoes in a garden, check out these awesome articles:
- Growing potatoes in small spaces with 7 easy steps
- Build a potato bin with compost and autumn leaves
A fellow gardener once asked me if growing potatoes was worth it. Why waste the space, dig the trenches, mound the hills, interfere with tomato rotation, and risk battling with potato bugs for a vegetable that we often experience in ways that are far from special?
Recently harvested potatoes have a tenderness, a silky texture, and a depth of flavor that makes me look forward to growing these crops every year. And even a small space like a raised bed or a large container can yield a respectable return on all sorts of potato varieties in dazzling colors, with a variety of uses in the kitchen.
So you sprouted, cut, and dried your seed potatoes in the spring. You dug your trenches, mounded your soil, watered, and waited.
You watched as the sprouts grew into lush green stems. And when the stems started to yellow and die back, you knew it was time to strike!
Let’s get down to the business of digging up those spuds.
What You Will Learn
- How to Harvest
- When to Harvest
- Hardening Off
- Proper Storage
- More Potato Tips
How to Harvest
You can use larger tools like shovels and pitchforks or hand tools like trowels and claws to harvest, or – if your soil is shallow and soft enough, as mine is – your garden-gloved hands.
Using spades and shovels tends to result in chopped-up tubers, though, so garden forks or hands are recommended.
If your potato plants still have strong stems, you can pull them up to start the harvesting process.
You’ll often get a few smaller specimens clinging to the roots. To get the rest of the spuds, or if your stems have totally died back, gently dig several inches away from the base of each plant and lift the soil up. Grab any potatoes that come with it.
Use gloved hands to sift through the upturned soil to make sure you get every last one. Don’t forget to dig down deep so you won’t leave any specimens underground, where they could rot or sprout next season (which might not jibe with your planting or crop rotation plans).
Now that you know the “how,” let’s take a look at timing.
When to Harvest
For “new” potatoes – a wonderful midsummer treat – you can harvest when about a third of the potato greenery has started to yellow or die back.
These potatoes will be on the smaller side, and they’ll have a very delicate skin that’s easy for shovels, forks, or even gloved hands to damage. They’ll also be delicious.
This can be a good time to check on and harvest just a few potatoes to see how they’re coming along in terms of size and skin texture – if you’re planning to store potatoes, or if you want bigger spuds, they’ll need several more weeks to develop. Prep and enjoy your test potatoes now for a delicious preview of future harvests.
Be sure to get even the little marble-sized goodies. A farmer I know sold these recently in half-pint containers as “peanut potatoes.” If you’re roasting, grilling, or frying your spuds, these little guys with their high skin-to-flesh ratio crisp up really nicely.
Now that you know your potatoes are ready, you can harvest your spuds all at once, or as you need them during the hardening-off process, which I’ll discuss in the next section.
I tend to harvest the potatoes from each of my planting areas (in my case, raised beds and containers) all at once, but I do this in stages.
I’ll harvest one container or bed’s worth so that the growing space becomes available for other crops sooner. But I still have a few more beds or container’s worth of potatoes to harvest in following weeks. That way, that I’ve got a pretty good supply that will take me from midsummer to Labor Day.
Besides keeping my root cellar or fridge stocked, this allows me to free up containers or sections of plots for sowing fall crops like carrots, beets, and lettuce.
Speaking of fall, you might want to keep a large crop of potatoes fresh for several months past harvest time. Fortunately, there’s a simple process that can help you to do just that.
If you’d like your potato skins to be more firm, or if you’re planning to store them long-term, leave them in the ground for up to a month after the tops have totally died back.
Be sure to keep them dry – no watering! Applied irrigation or even heavy rains can cause your potatoes to rot or sprout at this point, so plan your harvest accordingly.
If there’s lots of wet weather in the forecast or a frost is coming up, it’s a good idea to harvest your remaining spuds before this point – unfortunately you won’t be able to harden off underground with these conditions. But you can harvest your potatoes and bring them indoors to continue the hardening off process if you’re dealing with rain or frost.
Now that your potatoes have been unearthed, brush off any excess dirt and store them indoors in a cool, dark, dry place.
You can also store them in the fridge for up to 2 months, wrapped well in plastic or stored in a zip-top bag to keep them firm and fresh.
I’ve had success doing this with both unwashed and washed potatoes. If you choose to wash and refrigerate yours, be sure they’ve been dried well before storing in plastic to prevent rot.
If you’ve hardened off your haul and plan to store your potatoes over the winter, do not wash them! Brush off excess soil, let the dirty spuds dry indoors (out of the sun to avoid damaging or sprouting the specimens), and then keep them dry to avoid rot.
It’s fine if some dry soil clings to the skins of the potatoes. Inspect your haul carefully and cull any with cuts, gashes, or broken skin – they won’t keep well, but you can use them quickly with no ill effects.
Photo Credit: Alex Jones.
It’s also a good rule of thumb to pull smaller potatoes from your storage stock before larger ones – smaller taters don’t have quite the keeping power of larger specimens.
The ideal temperature for long-term potato storage is around 50°F. You’ll want to stash them in a dark place – no light whatsoever! – in a well-ventilated container. A wicker basket, paper or mesh bag, plastic storage bin with cutouts, or a cardboard box will do the trick.
If you have a cool, dry, dark basement or other storage space, that’s great for this. And if you’re lucky enough to have an actual root cellar, that’s perfect!
Keep in mind that you’ll want to limit access to hungry critters as much as possible.
Otherwise, a pantry or closet that will stay dark and cool for the long term and that isn’t accessible for pests to invade will do. Your potatoes should keep well this way for several months.
More Potato Tips
Now, for a few important pro tips:
1. Don’t Eat the Green Ones…
As you enjoy your homegrown potatoes, you may notice that the skin of your spuds has taken on a green tint. You’ll sometimes see this at the grocery store as well – don’t buy these!
This means your potatoes have been exposed to light, which increases levels of alkaloids and creates a toxin called solanine that’s poisonous to humans. This can also create a bitter flavor in your potatoes.
To avoid greening, be sure to keep them in the dark, with no light exposure during storage whatsoever.
While I definitely recommend avoiding any fully green potatoes entirely, specimens with just a hint of green on their skin can still be eaten safely, as long as you cut away that portion.
2. …Or the Seeds
As your potatoes grow to maturity, but before the green tops start to die back, you may notice what look like tiny green cherry tomatoes growing among the leaves. These are the seeds of the potato.
Please resist the urge to pop them in your mouth while weeding like you would a Sungold, because they’re toxic!
They also won’t give you the same potatoes, even if you were to save and plant them next year. Since potatoes don’t grow true from seed, we propagate them vegetatively, by saving seed potatoes from one year to the next.
Since disease can be passed down from season to season this way, it’s recommended that you always source trusted seed potatoes each year.
3. A Note on Rotation
I’ve touched on it already, but I’d like to offer one more note about rotation, with an urban growing tip:
Growing potatoes and tomatoes on a three-year rotation is recommended – meaning that if you want to grow these crops every year, you’ll need to maintain three separate beds or containers.
This minimizes the chance that you’ll exhaust the soil and build up pests or plant diseases in one bed like you might if you plant these crops in the same place over and over.
In my own garden, I also grow in straight compost, since I can get it for free. Yields seem pretty good so far, although the crops would benefit from something a bit lighter, I’m sure. YMMV.
Since I plant my potatoes in a series of raised beds and containers in various community gardens (as well as my own front yard), I make sure to build up my raised bed soil levels – which inevitably drop throughout each season – by emptying my spent potato container soil into a spent potato or tomato bed.
This way, I’m keeping my rotation properly, and the beds I use that didn’t grow potatoes or tomatoes this season will be ready for them the next season.
Now that you’re armed with the tools you need to harvest and store your spuds, it’s time to find your pitchfork and get digging!
Photo Credit: Alex Jones.
While a simple toss with olive oil, salt, and herbs (like this one) usually does it for me, I also love melting an Alpine-style cheese over boiled or roasted taters, Raclette-style.
What kind of potatoes are you growing this season? Let us know your harvesting and storage tips and share some of your favorite recipes in the comments!
Photos by Alex Jones © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: . First published on August 26th, 2016. Last updated August 5th, 2019.
About Alex Jones
Alex is a freelance local food consultant and writer based in Philadelphia. Evangelizing about growing food and maintaining urban green space is second nature to Alex. While she’s never farmed professionally, she has picked up a few tips and tricks thanks to her background as a local food buyer and small farm advocate. She belongs to two community gardens in her West Philly neighborhood and makes a valiant effort each season to eat only produce from her own garden, occasionally supplemented with goodies from the farmers market. When she’s not working, Alex spends her time managing her usually overstuffed fridge, growing vegetables, foraging for fruits around the city, playing tuba in a disco cover band, and hanging out with her partner and their two cats.
“New potatoes,” those harvested small and early, are all the rage in America’s kitchens and for good reason. They’re often fork- sized (well, close), retain their shape when cooked up, and come out nice and tender. They’re also a touch sweet. They haven’t developed long enough for their sugars to turn to starch. And that makes them the perfect accompaniment to late spring- early summer meals when they go well with other early season vegetables from your organic garden.
They’re also great for early season potato salads.
What makes a new potato new is it’s harvest time. You can have them in eight weeks to ten weeks after planting, depending on the conditions where you live. And potato tubers can go in the ground early, four to six weeks ahead of the last frost. But don’t plant them too early. Wait until your soil temperature reaches 45 degrees or so. Tubers put in the ground when soil temperatures are below 45 will stay dormant, and if conditions are wet, may rot.
Choose seed potatoes carefully and be sure to buy from a reputable dealer. (We offer organic potato tubers at our retail store only.) Short-season types are best for new potatoes.
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Types of potatoes vary widely and your local grower and nursery people are the best source of information on which potatoes are right for your area and best for early harvest.
Seed potatoes found at big box stores or other outlets, including supermarkets, may have been sprayed with sprout inhibitors. They’re also a notorious source of disease. A great source of seed potatoes in our world was a neighbor who always had plenty. We knew how he grew and he didn’t automatically spray or otherwise poison his crop.
Early potatoes benefit from advance sprouting before growing in the ground. Find the end of the potato that holds most of the eyes, or sprouting spots, and set them upright — an egg carton works great, or in baby food jars if you have them — in a cool, dry, place. The potatoes don’t have to be in the dark, in fact, light will encourage the tubers to sprout.
You can do this a month or so ahead of garden planting. Try to time it so that the tuber sprouts, known as chits, are about an inch or so long when it’s time to stick them in the ground. This method is also great for any potatoes you’ll be growing in bags or containers.
Potatoes that have several eyes can be cut to give you more plants. Make sure each piece of the potato you cut is at least an inch or more in diameter and has at least one or two eyes. (Grandpa always insisted on two, “like me,” he’d say.) Let the cut ends dry for a day or two before planting to help them resist excessive moisture and disease.
Plant potatoes for new harvest just as you would other potato tubers, six to eight inches deep, eyes up. We’ve always favored planting potatoes in rows, in a trench, so that they may be more easily heaped with soil as they grow.
Because they’ll have less growing time, you can plant them closer than you might a “keeper” potato crop that will be in the ground until fall. A foot or less will do for spacing. If you intend to harvest some early and some late from the same plant give them 15 inches. Keep the rows a good two-and-a-half, three feet apart, more if you’ll be rototilling, so it’s easy to heap soil on the plants as they continue to grow.
New potatoes take particularly well to being grown under straw. In this method, no soil is used. Instead, straw is used to fill the trenches and heaped on top as the plants continue to grow. Be sure to use enough. You don’t want sunlight turning your potatoes green. Growing under straw makes the potatoes particularly easy to harvest. You can be selective and just take what you need, rather than turning over a whole garden fork-full.
JUST ADD SOIL!
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It can be tricky knowing when new potatoes are ready for harvest. The potatoes should be at least an inch across for easy handling and uniform cooking. We’ve always dug out a couple with our bare hands (yes, our soil is that good) to make sure they’re big enough before taking the garden fork, getting under the tubers, and turning the whole thing over.
Parental tip: grandpa used to pay a penny for every potato we dug out of his garden. Unless you’ve really got a lot of your garden in potatoes, you won’t go broke. Kid tip: negotiate for a dime a potato.
We’ve read advice to leave potatoes, once dug, out in the field to dry for a couple of days if the weather is good. However, we’ve always felt that it’s best to keep potatoes out of sunlight, so bring them inside to dry in a well-ventilated place.
Best is to wash them right up and get them cooking. They’re really great roasted and splashed with herbs (rosemary, even marjoram) and olive oil. Or do it the old-fashioned way: steam ’em and lather them up with butter. Growing your own will give you the peace of mind that your crop doesn’t carry any of the dozens of chemicals used to treat potatoes that are raised conventionally and sold in grocery stores.
Here’s more than we’ve ever known about potatoes in one place (PDF) along with common problems and solutions. And here’s an interesting method of planting in a container of perlite (PDF). Time to get started.