Potato harvest time is here. mongione/Shutterstock

Harvesting potatoes requires physical labor, a bit of dry weather and a promise to yourself not to be forgetful.

As I mentioned earlier in the season, you can dig up a few new potatoes anytime you want them – either using a trowel to find a few potatoes while leaving the main plant growing or by digging up the entire plant.

Now comes the main harvest, when the vines have turned brown and fallen to the ground.

Use a shovel or a spading fork to dig. In either case, the garden should be fairly dry, which will make the work easier and ensure the potatoes will be completely dry when you store them.

Start digging at least six inches away from the hill you created as the vine grew early in the season, taking care not to damage any of the tubers.

You can leave the potatoes on the ground for a day. After that, they should go into a shady, protected area to dry – preferably on screens – for a couple of days.

Don’t forget them at this stage, because the potatoes will turn green and be inedible if left too long in bright light. After they have dried, store them in a cool, dark place – a root cellar if you have one. I don’t, but I use our bulkhead, which keeps the potatoes edible until April or May, when I use some of what is left from a whole winter of potato eating to plant the following year’s crop.

I’m still trying to figure how to keep some potatoes firm enough to supply our potato salad for the Fourth of July.


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