Potatoes are one of the staple foods and hardly anyone doesn’t love them – no wonder, as versatile as they can be processed. In addition, potatoes are easy to store for a long time. So of course it’s worth growing them in your own garden. However, while with above-ground vegetables it’s usually very easy to tell if the fruit is ripe by looking at it, with tubers that grow underground you’re usually not so sure, especially as a beginner. We come to your rescue with this article and explain important things about how to harvest potatoes and store them properly.
Table of Contents
- When can you start harvesting potatoes?
- The right storage depending on the potato variety
From when can you harvest potatoes?
If you want to harvest your potatoes, the timing depends mainly on the variety, of course. Namely, there are early potato varieties (from June), medium-early (from the end of July or August) and also late (from the beginning of September). So if you combine them in your garden, you can even benefit from a continuous harvest throughout the season.
A selection of varieties at a glance
How long do potatoes take to harvest depending on the variety? Below, we’ve summarized some of the most popular ones:
When to harvest potatoes by variety?
Early potato varieties; approx. 115 days to ripen; harvest from early June onwards
Medium-early varieties; approx. 130 days ripening time; harvest from mid-August (sometimes already at the end of July)
Late potatoes; approx. 150 days maturity; harvest from mid-September onwards
- Bamberg croissant
- Blue Anneliese
- Pink pine cone
- Sarpo Mira
Harvesting potatoes – how to recognize the right time
In principle, potatoes are ripe about three to four months after they are planted outdoors. But especially if you have planted several varieties at once, it might happen that you can’t quite remember when this time was. Fortunately, the tubers still have an above-ground part that you can use as a guide. As long as the potato plant is still green, you can assume that the potatoes are also still ripening and not ready for harvest. Wait until it turns yellow or dries up.
Now, it should also be said that the potatoes are edible even if you do dig them up a little too early. The only problem with this is that they then have the same skin texture as early potatoes. This means that they are then not suitable for storage, as you will learn in more detail below. You also don’t need to worry about harvesting your potatoes too late. This is because it only makes the skin thicker, which in turn is beneficial for storage.
Note: When the plants begin to wilt, it can be an indication not only of the onset of dormancy and harvest maturity. The cabbage also dries up in the case of the so-called late blight. Sooner or later, this disease is also transmitted to the potatoes, so in this case you should emergency harvest the tubers as soon as possible.
The correct storage depending on the potato variety
Check the tubers already at harvest and sort out unsuitable. If you notice that some are already rotting, they are no longer suitable for storage. Unsuitable for consumption are also potatoes with green spots, because they contain toxic substances (formed due to too much light during germination). Discard them. Small tubers (less than 3 cm in diameter) should be saved as seed potatoes for next year, and those that are damaged during digging should be processed as soon as possible.
Caution: have you noticed berries on potato plants that look like tomatoes? Leave them alone, because they are not suitable for consumption, but poisonous!
Harvest potatoes and choose the storage place after sorting.
The potato crate is the perfect container for storing harvested potatoes, because it provides good ventilation to prevent or delay rotting of the fruit. The storage place should also be as cool as possible (but frost-free), dry and dark, because heat and humidity promote spoilage as well as early germination, while too much light can again cause the green spots mentioned above. Nevertheless, not all potato varieties store well or for long. What does it depend on?
Interesting facts: temperatures below 3 degrees make potatoes sweeter, because then the starch is partially converted into sugar.
Which potatoes can be stored, which not?
Early potatoes have a very thin skin, which does not provide sufficient protection for long storage. In addition, they also contain more water than late varieties, for example, and, as you know, moisture is one of the great enemies of stored food . Therefore, early varieties should be stored only temporarily and preferably processed in a short time. Later varieties of potatoes, in turn, have a thick skin. This allows them to be stored until spring.
Of course, there will always be exceptions in the form of early rotting tubers. For this reason, you should check all stored potatoes at regular intervals and immediately dispose of rotting ones, otherwise the rot could spread to the other fruits as well.
And can potatoes be stored in the refrigerator?
Yes and no. In itself, there is not much to be said against it, i.e. the tubers would not automatically spoil. However, the disadvantage is that the temperatures in the refrigerator could be low enough to cause the effect described above, namely that part of the starch turns into sugar. And this, of course, would give the potatoes a different taste. Furthermore, the aeration in the refrigerator is not very good and the premature rotting of the tubers is therefore inevitable. So, even if you don’t mind the change in taste, you should not keep the potatoes in the refrigerator for too long.