Growing a mini farm in your backyard is a great way to make some farm-to-table food. Potatoes are a staple vegetable in most diets, and you can easily grow them in your garden. It may be tricky to find out when potatoes are ready to harvest since they’re hidden under the soil.
Apart from that, you may need to consider that there are a few varieties of potatoes that differ in harvesting time. Stick around to learn more about the right time and way to harvest potatoes.
How do I Know When My Potatoes Are Ready to Harvest?
Homegrown storage or maincrop potatoes are ready to harvest once their vines die off. Meanwhile, baby potatoes can be picked 2-3 weeks after the plant’s flower stops blooming.
Storage and new potatoes (also called baby potatoes) are harvested at different times, where the prior is larger and left for a longer time in the soil. On the other hand, new potatoes are small and take much less time to be harvest-ready.
These smaller potatoes are also convenient to harvest. You can simply dig one up without disturbing the remainder of the plant’s tubers. That way, you can leave the rest to become hardened, larger maincrop potatoes.
That being said, you may wonder what the signs of a harvest-ready potato mean. When the potato plants begin to flower, that’s when it has reached maturity. Consequently, the tuber formation underneath is established, and you can grab some new potatoes after waiting a few weeks.
When left longer, the tuber under the soil sucks the nutrients from the exposed plant until it dies off. Now, you wouldn’t want to get too hasty and harvest them right after the vines die. Instead, you’ll want to wait until the skin of the potatoes becomes thicker from curing, which can take a few weeks.
This provides a longer-lasting shelf life to the vegetable, giving it the name storage potatoes. These potatoes can last up to eight months at a cool storage temperature.
How Long After Planting Potatoes Are Ready to Harvest?
Early potatoes are ready to harvest after about 55 to 90 days from planting, depending on the weather and potato kind. Additionally, second early potatoes can be harvested after 110 days after sown. On the other hand, maincrop potatoes can take up to 120 to 135 days after planting to harvest.
The first and second early potatoes both fall into the new potatoes category. They’re generally tastier, which makes them slightly more expensive in shops than maincrop potatoes.
New potatoes are also more commonly homegrown because they don’t require as much maintenance as storage potatoes. Since they don’t take as long to harvest, they’re less vulnerable to plant diseases like potato blight.
When Should I Dig Up My Potatoes (which Month)?
Early potatoes are typically dug up during June or July. Second early potatoes are usually harvested soon after in either July or August. Finally, storage potatoes can be dug out near late summer and early fall from August to October.
Accordingly, you’d want to plant your first early potatoes around late March, while the second early variety can be sown near mid-April. The maincrop potatoes can be planted by the end of April.
As you can tell, potato harvesting and planting usually occur in spring, summer, and early fall. The reason is that colder temperatures tend to cause root damage to your potato plants.
Frosty weather can harm your plant’s leaves, especially if temperatures go below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius). Fortunately, the potato seedling can produce a new shoot to replace the dead one.
For this reason, most gardeners prefer to plant their potato seeds when the soil begins to soften and dry up from the snow and frost. In case you do want to plant in cold weather, we recommend adding mulch above the soil to maintain its warmth.
How Long After Potatoes Flower Are They Ready?
New potatoes are ready for harvesting two weeks after the plant stops flowering. Apart from that, if you’re looking to harvest maincrop potatoes, then you’ll have to wait for an additional 45 to 70 days after flowering.
That being said, once the potato seeds are planted, you can expect to wait a couple of months before seeing a collection of flowers blooming.
Potato flowers appear differently depending on the kind of potato you’ve planted. For instance, Maris Peer second early potatoes produce a lightly-scented array of purple-petaled flowers. Other common variations, like White Rose, can germinate white-colored flowers with yellow anthers.
Why Are My Potatoes So Small?
Your potatoes may have turned out small due to various reasons, such as lack of proper nourishment, sunlight, and watering. Another common reason could be that you’re harvesting the potatoes too early.
When it comes to sunlight, your potato plant needs at least six to eight hours of it directly. Sunlight contributes a lot to a healthy growing process. The spud plant needs direct light to correctly photosynthesize and produce better output.
Accordingly, the plant part exposed to sunlight needs to transfer its light energy to the tuber growing below it. In some cases, you may not even expect potatoes to grow if the plant isn’t placed in direct sunlight.
Additionally, harvesting too early can lead to some small results. That’s why you’ll have to wait at least a couple of weeks after the flowers bloom to begin harvesting.
Keep in mind that you’ll be seeing new potatoes, which are relatively small. You may want to be patient for two more months to get some large storage potatoes.
How do you Dig Up Potatoes?
To dig up the potatoes, you’ll require a shovel and a small basket to carry the spuds in. With your tool, dig around the edges of the plant carefully to avoid damaging the potatoes and pluck them from their roots. Alternatively, you can use your hands to dig up the potatoes to avoid cutting them.
If you accidentally cut the potatoes and leave them too long in the soil, then they’ll likely bruise and rot under there. There are a couple of types of bruising, namely, black spots and shatter. Shatter bruising occurs on the surface of the potato, where you’ll often notice a crack.
That crack can introduce all sorts of fungal bacteria like early blight and Fusarium dry rot. Meanwhile, black spot bruises are harder to spot since the split from impact is present just under the skin. Once you peel the infected potato, you’ll notice black patches where the crack forms.
This is why harvesting by using your hands is much safer and lessens the risk of bruising your potatoes. Just make sure to put on some gardening gloves to keep your hands and nails dirt-free. You may also want to initially loosen the soil up with a small tool like a trowel before digging in.