Potato harvest is not as easy as beet harvest, but the yields are well worth the effort! These tubers require a fair amount of time and elbow grease to dig up. How do you know it's time to dig? Wait until the tops of the vines have completely died before you begin harvesting. When the vines are dead, it is a sure sign the potatoes have finished growing and are ready to be harvested.
As the potato vines begin to die, reduce your amount of watering. Too much water WILL create an environment for rot. We don't want to delay harvest for very long after the vines have died either, as leaving potatoes in the ground under a heavy layer of dirt may encourage sprouting.
Digging and Storing Potatoes
What you'll need :
buckets or a wheel barrow
spader fork/potato fork
thick soled boot or shoe
1. Place the potato fork about a foot outside of the potato vines base. At 25 degree angle, force the fork into the ground by pushing the top of the fork tines with your boot. Apply pressure to the handle, forcing it down toward the ground to begin lifting the dirt. Repeat process around the entire plant.
2. On the final push, turn the potato fork and its contents upside down. You will be able to see the potatoes in the ground and attached to the vine. Shake vine to free excess dirt and potatoes apart. Thoroughly dig around plant area to ensure all potatoes are dug. Repeat process on all plants.
3. DO NOT WASH your potatoes. Leave them as they are, other than brushing off large dirt clumps that may be attached to the potatoes, depending on soil moisture when uprooting. Collect potatoes into buckets or wheelbarrow and haul to a covered, well ventilated area.
4. Let them sit in temperatures of 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for about two weeks to cure. This will give the skins time to harden and minor injuries to seal. Once hardened off, store potatoes in a cool, dark place, like the basement. I use ventilated plastic boxes that are stackable.