By Janessa Running
Are you new to gardening, or perhaps looking to acquire a 'green thumb'? Here are some tips on growing potatoes that will help you get started!
What is the time frame, from planting to harvest?
Depending on the variety planted, you are generally looking at anywhere from 2-4 months from planting to harvest. If you wish, you can harvest baby potatoes as soon as 2-3 weeks after flowering has finished, perfect as a delectable side dish for a delicious dinner. These tiny new potatoes are sweet and tender as the sugar has not yet been converted into starch. Gently sneak your hands into the dirt to search for the larger ones, leaving the small ones to grow for a while longer. Or leave the whole crop to finish growing before you harvest.
When to Harvest?
The potatoes are done growing when you see the plants starting to “die back.” If you are planning to use them right away, they can be dug at any time when this process starts, or even before if size is not important. If you wish to store them, they should stay in the ground a while longer, But first, what exactly does “dying back” mean? Well, when the tubers are done growing, the potato plants will start to yellow, then become browner and withered until they completely die back. As scary as it looks when you don’t expect it, it is actually a much anticipated sign I look for to know that the potatoes have finished growing!
Potatoes should be stored in a cool, but not cold, dry, dark environment, ideally around 45-50 degrees F (7-10 degrees C). Do not refrigerate they will turn sweet and change consistency, though this can be reverted by bringing them into warmer temperatures for a day or two. Potatoes do not tolerate frost.
Potatoes can be stored in bins, baskets, cardboard boxes, etc., or even in paper sacks or mesh bags. They do need good ventilation, so the container should be well perforated. Never store in air-tight containers. It is best not to pack them too tight, but keep some air flow around them to prevent rotting. Make sure they are kept in a very dark area, or cover the bins with newspaper or cardboard to keep all light out, to prevent them from turning green. Don’t store potatoes together with onions as each vegetable produces gasses that will cause both of them to spoil. Potatoes in optimum conditions will store for several months, even up to half a year or more.