How to Harvest Potatoes

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You’ve got potatoes in the ground. In fact, they’re taking over the garden. Red, white, even yellow potatoes are all waiting in the soil, ready for their turn in a potato salad – or as a side of fries.

Since they’re underground, it’s hard to tell when potatoes are ready to eat. How can you determine whether those new potatoes are ready for the picking?

The first clue is to look for the flowers. As most plants mature, one of their last acts is to make flowers and fruit. So when a potato is flowering, this means that it is nearing maturity.

When the flowers die off and the leaves begin to wilt, this doesn’t mean that you need to panic. Your potato crop is not necessarily going to rot in the ground. They will grow somewhat larger over time, so if you would like cooking potatoes rather than new potatoes, it’s all right to hold off on digging them for a little while.

When it comes to digging potatoes, avoid those that are sunburned and black or those with green on them. Using your hands, slowly and carefully remove the soil from around the roots of the potato plants. Those new to harvesting potatoes will notice that the skin is very thin, so gentle handling is a must.

Want to grow more potatoes next year? Just throw a few of the dud potatoes back in the ground. Perhaps there’s one with a hard shape that will be difficult to clean. Or maybe one of them got burned by the sun, or it’s partly green. Don’t eat it – just throw it back into the garden, where it will overwinter and grow you a great crop of new potatoes next year.

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