Potatoes can be grown in containers, which is a great option for those with limited space or who want to grow them on a balcony, patio, or deck. Getting the potatoes to grow well is one challenge, but knowing when to harvest them is another if you haven’t grown potatoes before. Read on to find out when is the correct time to harvest potatoes grown in containers.
When to harvest potatoes grown in containers
The timing for harvesting potatoes in containers is similar to harvesting potatoes grown in the ground. Here are some guidelines to help you determine when your container-grown potatoes are ready for harvest:
- Look for yellowing leaves: As the potato plants mature, the leaves will begin to turn yellow and die back. This is a good indication that the potatoes are nearing maturity and are ready for harvest.
- Check the soil: Gently dig around the base of the plant to check the size of the potatoes. If they are still small, wait a week or two before checking again.
- Observe the plant: If the plant has stopped growing and the leaves have completely died back, the potatoes are likely ready for harvest.
- Time it right: Potatoes are typically ready for harvest 2-3 months after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Harvesting too early will result in smaller potatoes while waiting too long can cause them to become too large or they may rot in the soil.
In general, it’s best to wait until the plants have completely died back before harvesting the potatoes. This will ensure that they have reached their maximum size and are fully mature. Once the tops have turned white the potatoes are fully ripe and ready to harvest.
How to harvest potatoes in containers
Harvesting potatoes from containers is relatively easy, and it typically involves the following steps:
- Wait for the plants to die back: When the potato plants are ready for harvest, the leaves and stems will start to turn yellow and wilt. This is a sign that the potatoes are mature and ready for harvest.
- Stop watering: A week or two before harvest, stop watering the plants to allow the soil to dry out slightly. This will help the potatoes mature and will make them easier to harvest.
- Prepare for harvest: When the potatoes are ready for harvest, tip the container on its side, and dump the soil and potatoes onto a tarp or other surface. Alternatively, you can use a garden fork or hand trowel to carefully dig up the potatoes from the soil.
- Harvest the potatoes: Sort through the soil and remove any potatoes that you find. Be careful not to damage the potatoes while harvesting them.
- Store the potatoes: Once you have harvested all the potatoes, store them in a cool, dark, and dry place. Do not wash them immediately after harvesting, as this can damage the skin and cause them to spoil more quickly.
How to store excess potatoes from the garden
If you have harvested more potatoes than you can eat in a month, or you just want to store your potatoes in an optimal way you should follow these tips for perfect storage.
- Cure the potatoes: Before storing potatoes, allow them to cure for a week or two in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. This will help toughen the skin and extend their shelf life.
- Choose the right storage location: Potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place. Avoid storing them in areas that are too warm, humid, or exposed to sunlight, as this can cause them to spoil.
- Store in a container: Potatoes can be stored in a variety of containers, such as burlap bags, cardboard boxes, or ventilated plastic containers. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and cause the potatoes to rot.
- Check them regularly: Check the potatoes periodically to make sure they are still in good condition. Remove any potatoes that are starting to sprout or show signs of rot.
- Use them before they go bad: Potatoes will eventually start to sprout or spoil by the following spring, so it’s important to use them before they go bad. Consider using them in soups, stews, or other dishes, or sharing them with friends and family.
By following these tips, you can store excess potatoes from the garden and enjoy them for months to come.