More Garden Know How – Potatoes

There is nothing like baby, new potatoes. You just scrub them, no peeling required. Plus, they are just so creamy.

Potatoes take a bit longer to get growing than many other vegetables. It can be a month, or longer, before they make their appearance through the soil.

Every year is different. You never know how they will gow. The plants may be really tall, or stay short and get very bushy. Or, they could get tall and bushy.

And when the potatoes grow they may all stay under the plant. But, they may spread way out. You just never know.

The big thing about not knowing where they are going to grow is making sure the potatoes don’t grow up and get exposed to the sun. For this reason, composting, or laying dead grass around the plants and between the rows is a really good thing to do. Just don’t have any weeds mixed in with the dead grass, if that is what you are using.

Potatoes do not start growing until the plant flowers. Even then, just because there are flowers, don’t assume there are baby potatoes to pick. The flowers do have to be there a while before you can even think of getting anything when you dig. Wait at least a couple weeks after you see them start to flower, before checking. The flowers need to have opened, not just have the blooms on the plant.

If you want to check, start digging away from the plant and try not to disturb the plant. That way if none are found, the plant will be able to start growing the potatoes and if you find any, only pick what you want while letting the rest of the hill grow bigger.

If you are letting your potatoes fully mature, they are ready when the plant dies. Now you can dig them up with a spade or potato fork. My dad always went down between the rows with his garden tractor with the plow and overturned the soil.

Sometimes the potato plants will fruit after they flower. They aren’t for eating. I always thought they looked like a cross between an apple and a potato.

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