Who doesn’t love potatoes? This universally faved vegetable comes in an assortment of varieties and colors; each so delicious. In fact, they’re a must-have in the kitchen.
Fortunately, growing these tasty tubers is actually easy. A full sun, loose well-drained soil with a temperature of at least 45 degrees Celsius, and 1-2 inches of water per week are your main requirements. Remember, the soil should be moist but not watery. It is also recommended to plant potatoes in rows with a distance of 3 feet.
Once you’ve got the basics covered, you’re ready to grow your own produce. But you need a little more know-how for the best results.
The correct time to pull out the potatoes is an extremely important chunk of information. Knowing exactly when to harvest potatoes will get you an abundant and flavorful yield of fresh potato goodness.
When to Harvest Potatoes – Types & Timings
Don’t fret- it’s not complicated at all. Harvesting can be easy and fun if you have some essential knowledge. First, there are two main types of potatoes- new potatoes and mature (storage) potatoes. The correct time to harvest both differs.
‘New potatoes’ are small and thin-skinned. They are ready to be eaten rather than stored. So you can enjoy the taste of the smaller batch until the full crop grows. These potatoes can be ready for harvest as early as ten weeks. The first sign for harvest is when flowers appear.
These baby potatoes have delicate skin, so use your fork, shovel or hands very carefully. Gently move aside the soil, and retrieve the new potatoes. The remaining plants will continue to produce mature potatoes.
The other type is called ‘storage potatoes ’or main crop potatoes. You will know when to harvest the potatoes when the foliage turns yellow and dry. You can cut either cut the foliage or wait for it to wither and die on its own. The top of the plants should be completely dead before you harvest.
Now check the potato skin. Simply dig up a potato and use your fingers to rub it. If the skin starts scraping off easily, you need to wait a few more days. Simply put, a main-crop potato should have thick skin attached firmly to the flesh.
How many Potatoes per Plant should you expect?
A common question is how many potatoes you could expect to harvest from one plant. The answer ultimately depends on how much you care for your plants. The variety you choose to grow is also a factor to consider.
Under ideal conditions, you should expect to yield five to ten potatoes per plant. On average, 2 pounds of potato seed will give you around 50 pounds of potatoes.
An important tip to maximize yield is to plant potatoes in hills. This supports their development by protecting tubers and aids in better growth. You can form hills easily by yourself. From each side of the row, draw up the soil surrounding it to give support to the stems.
Your watering habits will also affect how many potatoes per plant you can harvest. Always keep a check on the soil and make sure it isn’t dry. Keep in mind that it should not be soggy either. Keep the soil evenly moist at all times. Water it before it dries out but don’t drown your potatoes. If the soil moisture is not consistent (wet, dry, wet), it will negatively affect the growth of the potato and its tubers.
There are some factors that can decrease your potato wield. Too much rain or heat is a disadvantage. Potatoes are especially prone to getting damaged by diseases or pests. These can spread fast so you need to keep a check and destroy any plans or stems that look infected.
Keep the weeds away from the plants. Discourage the infestations of any pesty insect. Mulch the area around the plants to protect them from the sun. And keep the soil moist and not too warm. These are the basics to potato plant care.
When to Harvest Potatoes in Containers…
You aren’t limited in the way you can grow potatoes. Many small-space gardeners benefit from using small containers for the purpose. As the tubers are all in one place, harvesting can be easier too.
A few words of advice if you wish to harvest potatoes in containers are necessary. First, remember that the best potatoes for this work are the ones that mature early. So look out for the varieties that grow the fastest.
Only plant your potatoes when there is absolutely no risk of frost.
Lastly, you will know it’s time to harvest once the plants flower and become yellow. Now you should stop watering them and wait for one week. You can either dig out the fresh potatoes, or simply dump out the container and pick them out.
These potatoes should then be cleaned and cured for two weeks.
Why & How to Cure Potatoes
Storing your potatoes comes next. Curing is a necessary step before you can store safely. Proper curing slows down the tubers’ respiratory rate and makes the potatoes’ skin thick. Now equipped with tough skin, your potatoes won’t lose moisture as quickly.
How to cure potatoes? First brush off any dirt from them. Then, find a location with good air circulation. In a dark, cool spot, lay down the potatoes on a newspaper or tray. The optimal temperature should be 10-15 C with relatively high (85-95%) humidity. The curing period should be around one to two weeks. During this, any minor cuts should heal while the skin gets tougher.
The thin-skinned lot would cure quicker than the thick ones so make sure that you know what kid of potato you are curing. Also, new potatoes need not be cured. You should eat those within a few days after harvest as they cannot last longer than that.
After curing, discard any potatoes that are discolored or mushy looking- basically showing any signs of damage. This is important because otherwise, they will get rotten and infect the rest.
You can now store your delicious potatoes! Make sure that the area is cooler than the curing site. It must also be dark, and well-ventilated. Put the potatoes in a place that blocks out sunlight. Cardboard boxes, brown paper bags or baskets with holes in them can work. A root cellar is the best way to do this.
Other Potato Facts
Did you know that potatoes are the most popular vegetable in the whole world? Whether fried, baked, boiled or stuffed, it is a good treat. Be careful with how many you consume though. Potatoes are very rich in carbohydrates. If consumed too much, they might cause you high blood pressure.
The potato is the most important non-cereal crop in the world. It is a crop, and it is very famous, but it is non-cereal. It is not a grain like barley corn, rice or wheat. It is also 80% made of water, so it is perfect against dehydration (does not mean it can take the place of water).
Potatoes are one of the most environmentally friendly crops in the whole world. It does not cost much to produce them. Yet they provide great benefits.
With the ideal storage situation, you can expect 6-8 months with those quality potatoes! This is why it’s a treat to grow this vegetable.
Planting and growing your own potatoes is a fun process for any gardener. It can turn into a family activity that kids also enjoy. In fact, potatoes offer so many delectable dishes which makes growing them all the more exciting. And they’re packed with high nutrition-lots of potassium and vitamin C and B-6!
In order to maximize your yield and boost the flavor, it’s always best to know the little tricks. Remember that the ideal growing situations reap the best results. Now that you know when to harvest potatoes and how to cure them, you can relax while having an abundance of this appetizing food right at home.