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Connecticut Garden Journal: How and when to harvest homegrown potatoes

Ezra Bailey
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Home grown potatoes are a treat to harvest, especially with kids.

People often wonder why we grow potatoes. After all, they're plentiful year round in grocery stores. But there's something very elemental about potatoes. They grow easily from little seedling potatoes that yield an abundance of new potatoes. They are a treat to harvest, especially with kids. And I think they taste better.

One question I often get is when do I harvest my potatoes. You can start harvesting when they flower. Yes, some varieties of potatoes flower in midsummer with attractive purple colored, star-shaped blooms. You'll mostly harvest small sized, new potatoes. Of course, if you harvest too many you'll have fewer potatoes in fall.

In late summer, the potato plant starts dying back, and that's you can harvest them completely. If you see mice and vole activity you might want to harvest sooner than later.

On a dry day, gently dig around the base of the row or potato plant with a shovel or iron fork to unearth your spuds. Try not to damage the potatoes when harvesting or they won't last long in storage. Bring the potatoes into a warm, airy room, garage or barn with no direct sunlight. Place them on racks or a dry surface and let them dry for a few weeks. This toughens the skin so they last longer in storage. Brush off the soil and protect them from light with a covering or they might turn green. Green tinged potatoes are still okay to eat, they just won't taste as good. Store in a dark, basement or room where the temperatures stay around 40°F. They should last into winter.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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