Harvesting Potatoes: Our 2020 Potato Crop

Last year Ryan planted some Yukon gold potatoes. It was a busy year, and I was focused more on our then 9-month-old baby than on the garden chores. Harvesting potatoes fell off the list of priorities, and when we finally got around to it, most of them were rotten. This year, we were determined to do things right!

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I planted some russet potatoes back in early May. We had a bag of potatoes we bought a few months earlier that grew eyes, and they were perfect for planting. In the past Ryan has always done the potato planting, so I was a little worried I’d somehow mess it up. But they popped up, and they thrived! Even the Yukon golds from last year popped back up and gave us a couple pounds of goodness. And I learned that I really like Yukon gold potatoes.

When are potatoes ready to harvest?

Potatoes are ready to harvest when the green foliage starts to die back. They go from looking like this:

To this:

You can leave them in the ground for a while, but if you’ve had lots of rain and your soil is really moist, they might rot. We got to ours pretty quick this year, but I still dug up a few rotten ones. It’s just so wet here!

Harvesting Potatoes

When harvesting potatoes, I like to pull up the plant first (the dead green part) to get it out of the way. I get any potatoes that are stuck to the base roots, and then I dig in the ground for the rest. I just wear gloves and do this with my hands – I worry that shovels or rakes might damage the potatoes.

The ground we planted our potatoes in was pretty hard, so a lot of them were small. We still got a decent amount though, and I went through an replanted them as I went. Basically, I found a little “seed potatoes” with eyes from each hole, and stuck them back in the ground. We are hoping to get a second harvest – maybe even a better one, since the ground is a little more loose now!

Freshly replanted row of potatoes

Storing Potatoes

We are still figuring this part out. We are thinking of investing in some of those cool looking wooden crates (like these) to store them in. Apparently they need to sit and cure for a couple weeks, so that’s the step we’re at now. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, you’re supposed to keep them out of the sun so they don’t turn green. Green potatoes produce solanine, which can make you sick. We don’t want that! Once they’re cured, they can be stored in a cool dry place (around 45-50 degrees). What do you think – garage, pantry, or crawl space?

I harvested some carrots while I was at it 

how to harvest potatoes

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