Useful Tips For Harvesting Potatoes
Most people look forward to harvesting potatoes, but are not completely sure of how to obtain as many wonderful potatoes as possible. Obviously anyone with a potato plant desires to produce as many potatoes as they can during the harvesting period. Therefore, it is important to understand the growing schedule of your plant and determine how to maximize your harvest. After all, delicious, homegrown potatoes are a treat; we want to get the best yield from our plants. I will help you with harvesting potatoes in this article so you can make your potato plants count.
Potatoes are wonderful “vegetables” and are favorite items on the kitchen table because of many reasons. They are delicious, for starters, but they are also versatile, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. They are also extremely nutritious. With the skin on, pound for pound, potatoes are probably the most all-around nutritious foods you can eat, which is a powerful reason why people grow them commercially and for private use.
Notice I put the word vegetables in quotation marks. This is because the potato actually isn't a vegetable, like many assume it is. It is actually a tuber, which is a type of plant that stores its nutrients in a storage organ (like a potato). The potato plant is a perennial plant that can continue to produce potatoes year-round, and grows potatoes in the form of roots underground. Gardeners who grow them at home usually cultivate them by placing potato cuttings (with eyes) in the soil and covering them up about 3 inches deep, so no seeds are necessary.
Growing and harvesting potatoes is actually troublesome, even under the right circumstances. You need the right amount of water, plus you have to fend off weeds, insects, and blight so that your crops can remain strong. Once you develop them, though, and grow them, you can start harvesting your crops and enjoy them. Early potatoes, for example, are generally ready for harvesting about 90 days after planting. These tend to be small yet juicy and succulent, which makes them popular and not something to be missed. But if you want to wait for larger crops, then by all means, wait until the potato stems have turned yellow and fallen off.
To go about harvesting potatoes in the most efficient manner, it is recommended that you use a five or six-pronged pitchfork. Just take the pitchfork and place it underneath the potatoes, then lift. Your potatoes will remain while the dirt falls through the tines, and a handful of delicious potatoes will be yours. You will know when your potatoes are ready to be harvested when your potato plant (the leafy portions above ground) tilt or fall over. It is best to begin harvesting potatoes in September, so that you do not leave them in the ground for the first frost to hit (which can come around late September in northern areas).
It is recommended that if you want to eat newly-dug potatoes that you do so immediately (within a few hours). Otherwise, you will need to store them in a dark, dry, cool place so they do not sprout. And if you want bigger potatoes, then remember that the longer you leave them in the ground, the larger they will become. Plus, it is possible to get two crops of potatoes a year, if you plant them early enough. I would plant the second crop by mid-June in order to get it in before winter hits. This is important; potatoes do not have a tolerance for heavy wintry conditions or frost.
So, in conclusion, harvesting a crop of potatoes can be tricky. But, if you have a bit of patience and pay heed to the help above, then you can have a delicious plate of steaming, homegrown potatoes in no time.