Learning how to harvest and cure potatoes for storage is super simple, and actually one of my very favorite garden tasks.
How to Tell When Potatoes Are Ready to Harvest
If you’ve been around for any amount of time, you know how much I love harvesting root vegetables. Onions, potatoes, beets, carrots. There’s just something so satisfying about the surprise that comes with unearthing a plant that’s been hiding away for weeks beneath the surface of the garden. But it’s not always a good surprise. If you don’t harvest at the correct time, you might pull up a half-grown carrot or a potato the size of a pea.
So how do you know when your potatoes are ready to harvest?
You can tell that they are ready after the plants have flowered and the flowers have died. Then the leaves will wilt and yellow and begin to die. That’s when your potatoes are ready to dig!
How to Harvest Potatoes
This will depend on how you planted your potatoes. If you chose to use containers like I did in my post earlier in the spring, then you will simply dump them out and dig through the contents. If you planted your potatoes in the ground, then you will probably want to use a fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the roots of the plants. Since I had the kids helping me, we just used our hands.
I chose to do half of my potatoes in containers and the rest in my raised garden beds this year and found that I definitely had a better harvest from the raised beds. This could be because I planted more there to begin with, or because the containers were so deep that I don’t feel like the plants got nearly as much sun as the in-ground plants.
How to Cure Potatoes For Storage
Curing potatoes is similar to curing garlic and onions. You don’t want to wash them, simply brush off the largest pieces of dirt. Then you want to store them in a cool dry place for a few weeks to let them cure. You want them to have a good bit of airflow so that the outer skin can dry and shrink. This becomes a barrier that protects the potato from spoiling and allows you to store them. You also want to ensure that they aren’t in direct sunlight because it can cause them to sprout eyes.
I usually lay my potatoes out on a screen door that is balanced on two saw horses and allow them to cure in the back stall of our barn. Not the prettiest setup, but it certainly gets the job done. After your potatoes have cured for 2-3 weeks, you can store them in a cool, dark place for several months depending on the type of potato. Thicker-skinned varieties like russet last longer than thinner-skinned red potatoes.