Okay, let’s start with, who doesn’t like potatoes? No one in the room? No wonder! Are you aware of the consumption rate of potatoes? Every year around 125 pounds of potatoes are consumed per person. Potatoes are the staple food, and many gardeners plant them and store them so that potatoes can be available during the winter season. But for that step, you need to know when to harvest potatoes.
One of the most famous and most accessible crops to sprout, it produces a tasty bunch of tubers when grown in garden beds and containers. There is not only one variety of potato to grow, but many different varieties too! These are fingerlings, russets, etc., and they look so awesome, just like rainbow colors.
But, as you all know, the crop of potatoes are grown underground there can come one question in mind. When to dig up the tuber? It becomes hard to tell this. If it is challenging to know the tale about potatoes’ digging time, how do you know when to harvest potatoes?
You might have questions in mind about growing potatoes. Is it worth growing potatoes? Why use so much space? Why dig holes? And many more. So, the answers to these questions are simpler than ever!
Potatoes have an aroma of great flavor, silky texture, and a delicate appearance, making people grow them every year. Even a tiny space like a container can grow potatoes with various colors and uses. But, before knowing when to harvest potatoes, you need to know about how to grow potatoes and store them.
So, let’s peep into the world of potatoes and know about their growing, storing, and harvesting time.
When can potatoes be planted?
The best time to plant potatoes is during the cold season. In northern areas, gardeners prefer to plant the crop of early maturing potatoes between April and that too 6 to 8 weeks before frost or when the soil is able to work properly.
But, the danger of frost can become threatening. If you have planted potatoes and there is any danger of frost during the night, cover the crop with mulch or with any type of artificial covering. Remember to remove the coverings in the daytime.
It’s the soil, not the calendar, which will tell you about the perfect time of planting potatoes. Soil’s temperature should be 10 °C, soil should be less wet to avoid its stickiness. If the soil is too wet, allow the soil to dry first and then plant the potato crop. If seeds of potato are planted in wet soil, they can rotten and become unfit for growing.
While in southern areas, the potato crop is grown during the winter season, September to February. Where winters are not so intense, you can plant falling crops in September. In countries like Florida and Georgia, potato crops are planted in January and February.
Maintaining planting site
Now, to plant a good potato crop, you need to see whether the site of planting is meeting the requirements. If not, you need to prepare the planting site first. Then only can you grow potatoes and would be able to know when to harvest potatoes.
Let’s know about some ways to maintain the planting site for growing the crop.
● The crop sprouts well in cold season, well-drained, not-so-wet soil, and the temperature required for growth is about 10°C.
● You need to select a place where the crop can get full sun; 6 hours of sunlight is essential for the crop.
● It should be grown in rows, and the distance between each space should be 3 feet.
● With the help of a digging tool, make a hole in the soil 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep, and the bottom portion of the hole should be 3 inches wide.
● Need to spread organic manure at the bottom of the hole before planting the crop.
How potatoes can be planted?
Before learning about how and when to harvest potatoes, you need to know how potatoes are planted. To plant potatoes is also an art that only gardeners understand. Let’s know about the steps which need to be followed carefully during the planting of crops.
● You need to put the potato seed 12 to 14 inches down in every hole and should be covered with 3 to 4 inches of soil.
● Is your garden soil rocky? If yes, then place the seeds of potatoes on the ground and spray some soil over it. Cover the seeds with leaves or straw and allow them to grow.
● If the potato’s size is big enough, cut the potato into small pieces with a clean and sharp knife, be sure that each piece contains two eyes. This is the way to plant big-size potatoes. If the potato’s size is small, it should be planted as a whole, not in pieces.
● Are you cutting the potato into pieces by yourself? If yes, then perform this act two days before planting it. The potatoes can be healed and can form a protective layer around the cut surface, which will help improve moisture content and rot protection.
● After 12 to 16 days of planting, when it sprouts, slowly fill the hole with 3 to 4 inches of soil with some tool. Remember to expose some inches of plants above the soil. Repeat the process many times, leave the soil above the ground (4 to 5 inches).
● Once the plants start to come, you need to add mulch between the rows so that the moisture is conserved; weed growth is avoided, and it mainly helps in soil cooling.
How potatoes are grown?
You need to remember the main thing while growing potatoes to expose their tubers to sunlight for too long. And before learning when to harvest potatoes, learn about how to grow them because only you will harvest them. Right?
If the tubers are kept in sunlight for too long, the tubers can change into green color, and a toxic compound is released, which makes the potato bitter in taste and makes it unfit for eating. Do you want to prevent this issue? If yes, then apply a special technique called hilling.
Hilling is a simple technique; when the potato plant grows, it sprouts a main stem bearing leaves and flowers above the ground. While tubers are underground, they form secondary stems which need to be scraped off from the main stem. What is hilling? How is the technique of hilling related to when to harvest potatoes?
Hilling up of soil is done around the stem’s base to avoid tubers from getting exposed to sunlight and encourage the plant to produce much more new tubers. The act of killing is done around 3 to 4 times in the growing season.
● Hilling techniques should be practiced during morning times, when the plant is at sufficient height. As during the time of sunshine, plants start to drop off.
● Make sure to maintain moisture, mainly from the time when sprouts appear till they blossom. A sufficient amount of water is required by the plant; if too much water is given after planting and not given when potatoes start forming, the tubers can become unshaped.
● The last time when hilling needs to be done is before the blooming of a potato plant and when the plant part is above the ground and a foot tall. Now, place the dirt around the plant’s base to cover the tubers and support the plant.
When to harvest potatoes?
After planting and growing the potatoes, they need to be harvested. You might be wondering when to harvest potatoes along with how to harvest them.
So, firstly let’s learn about ‘when’–
● Regular potatoes can be harvested when the foliage starts dying. Remember, when you start harvesting the potatoes, the plant top should be dead.
● New potatoes, the kind of potatoes harvested at an early stage due to their small size and delicate skin, are ready to harvest in two to three weeks when the plant’s blooming stops. It is advised to eat these new potatoes within a few days as they can’t be kept for a longer duration.
● Make the potatoes challenging for storage just before harvesting, and remember not to water them much after August.
● To check if the potatoes are ready for harvesting or not, you need to make a test hill to check the potato’s maturity. Their skin can recognize mature potatoes; the skin of this type of potato is thick and tightly attached to the flesh. On the other hand, if a potato’s skin is thin and can be rubbed off easily, then the potatoes are still new and should be left in the ground for more days.
● Light frost can be born by potatoes, but you need to dig out the potatoes if hard frost is expected.
These are some of the ways you can know when to harvest potatoes and be very beneficial for you.
Process of harvesting potatoes
One query of when to harvest potatoes vanished; now comes another query of how to harvest them. Let’s vanish it also and make the points clear.
● Cut down the brown foliage and leave the potatoes for 14 more days just before harvest. This act will help the potato to develop thick skin. Remember not to wait for more than 14 days because the potato can get rotten.
● Harvest the potatoes during dry days, gently dig the potatoes, and ensure no harm is caused to the tubers. Don’t cut potatoes’ skin; if the potato is damaged, it gets rotten during its storage days, so it should be consumed as early as possible. Digging becomes easy when the soil is not hard.
● If the potatoes are dug up from the wet soil, they will become dry before placing them into baskets.
As you must be a potato pro now, you know how to grow potatoes? How to plant the potatoes? How to harvest the potatoes? When to harvest potatoes? Now comes the main thing – storing potatoes. Potatoes are stored in huge numbers, but before storing, they undergo a curing process. This process helps the skin to get thick and also enhances the life of storage of tubers. What do you need to do to cure them?
You need to lay the potatoes on a newspaper in a dark, cool area with high humidity and leave it for 1 to 2 weeks to cure them. Choose a place where air circulation is good enough. When the curing process is done, shift the potatoes to the boxes. Block the light by covering the boxes with newspaper.
The area which is used for storing the potatoes should be cool, dark, and well ventilated. Storing potatoes can have quality till eight months. Keep a regular check on the tubers and if any sign of rot is seen, immediately scrape it off. Thus, enjoy the taste and aroma of new potatoes after harvesting them.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about when to harvest potatoes! Give a read to other blogs like-