Harvest | Vegetables

When to Harvest Potatoes & How to Grow Them

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Discover when to harvest potatoes to make the most of your garden’s offerings. Growing potatoes is easier than you might expect – sometimes they grow completely by accident!

Have you ever found volunteer plants in your compost heap?

Many gardeners swear you shouldn’t compost potatoes for this very reason!

It works out so much better to plant them deliberately in a potato grow bag or raised bed.

Truly, a little planning goes a long way. Knowing when to dig potatoes helps to ensure your harvest contains potatoes of your desired size.

Dig potatoes too early and your spuds will be the size of grapes!

Wait too late to dig up potatoes and you may miss your chance as they become seed potatoes for next year.

Metal Colander with veggies - When to Harvest Potatoes

When Are Potatoes Ready to Harvest?

Potatoes are generally ready to harvest shortly after the plant begins to die back. You’ll soon notice the stems and potato plant’s leaves turning yellow or brown. Pay attention for this milestone and plan to dig up potatoes when the plant above the ground starts to fade.

  • For Fresh Eating – You can harvest potatoes right away after the plant turns yellow.
  • For Storage – You should wait a few weeks longer so the potatoes have a chance to mature.

Keep in mind that different types of potatoes may take slightly longer or shorter than other varieties.

What Is a Good Place to Dig Potatoes?

Potatoes grown in grow bags are easy to dump out just about anywhere. Get a shallow bin or tray where you can dump your potato bag out for best results. Give the kids a trowel and let them dig around, looking for potatoes to harvest!

What Does a Potato Plant Look Like?

Potato plants produce their harvests underground. Therefore, the plant you see on top of the soil may not give you an immediate clue what it is. Potato plants feature dark green foliage with erect stems. They’ll generally get white and yellow flowers as well.

Underneath the soil, the potato vine puts out tubers, which are your actual potatoes.

How to Grow Potatoes

Growing potatoes is really easy!

Follow these steps on how to grow potatoes at home:

  1. Cut up seed potatoes or some from your pantry that have grown eyes. Each should have several healthy nodes if possible. (Most sources suggest using seed potatoes to be sure they’re free of viruses. I’ve personally never had a problem planting pantry potatoes that have sprouted. Your mileage may vary.)
  2. Start with a potato grow bag or large, deep planting container.
  3. Place about two inches of soil in the bottom.
  4. As far as potato spacing in grow bags, plan to space them out so you have 3 or 4 seed potatoes per grow bag.
  5. Place the potato slips on top of the soil with the cut side down. The eyes should face upward.
  6. Loosely cover with some soil.
  7. Water and watch for growth.
  8. When you notice the leafy green potato plants growing, be sure to add a bit more soil to keep the potatoes vining.
  9. Continue to add soil bit by bit until you reach the top of your grow bag or container.
  10. Water weekly as needed. Watch for wilting and water to perk up the potato plants.
Potato Harvest on wooden deck

How to Harvest Potatoes

It’s always exciting when it comes time to harvest potatoes! It’s like digging for buried treasure! Our kids especially love this task in the garden.

Try these easy steps on how to harvest potatoes:

  1. When the stems and leaves begin to fade and turn yellow, slow down with the watering.
  2. Wait a few more weeks if you wish to store them or pick once the plant has died back for garden fresh potatoes.
  3. Get a tray or shallow bin ready for the potato harvest.
  4. Dump the potato grow bag into the bin or tray.
  5. Sift through the soil with your hands to find as many potatoes as possible.
    1. Keep in mind that some may have fallen off the vine.
  6. Place any potatoes you find in a colander and rinse them inside. Allow them to dry completely before storing or cook them up and enjoy.
Daughter Harvesting Potatoes from the Garden

Final Thoughts: Knowing When to Harvest Potatoes

We’ve failed both ways in knowing when to harvest potatoes over the years. We’ve harvested potatoes too early and ended up with itty-bitty baby potatoes. These were much smaller than new potatoes.

We’ve also waited too long to the point that we gave up and never harvested the potatoes at all. This year’s potato crop came from last year’s forgotten spuds!

Now, with better planning and focus, we’ll remember to harvest our potatoes after the foliage turns yellow and dies back.

Do you have any awesome tips for growing and harvesting potatoes? Feel free to post your questions or favorite tips here in the comments! We’d love to chat.

Happy Gardening!

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