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How is it best to harvest potatoes?

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How is it best to harvest potatoes?

Post  Icemaiden on 8/18/2010, 8:00 am

Hi!
This is my first year of SFG and I only had 4 squares of potatoes, one side of a 4x4. So, it was not a major event harvesting potatoes Laughing I grubbed around a few times to get enough for a meal, then I took two squares at a time and troweled out the mix until I could be sure I had all the spuds out.

Next year I plan to have a whole 4x4 just for potatoes. So my question is, how do you harvest? Given that the potatoes are often down near the bottom, do you take most of the mix out like I did this time? And then put it back? I wondered if it would be better for the box, since the mix is out anyway, to leave it semi-empty over the winter as the wood would stay drier that way.

Ooh, that's another question... I know some folk have said they keep their mix in bags over the winter - is that sealed up in plastic? Doesn't it go mouldy?

Look forward to the voice of experience on this one Laughing

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Re: How is it best to harvest potatoes?

Post  boffer on 8/18/2010, 10:03 am

To harvest potatoes for winter storage, first I let the vines die down, and then I don't water for several weeks. In MM, the soil dries out nicely so that no tools are required for harvesting-just my hands sifting through the soil. When I have to use tools (in a raised bed that's not MM), I always damage a bunch of taters, and they can't be stored.

From the end of one growing season to the beginning of the next, I'll get 30 inches of rain. That much water going through my boxes can't help but be washing away nutrients in my MM. I cover all my beds with plastic for the winter to keep them dry, and to keep them clean when the late fall, early winter winds arrive.
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Re: How is it best to harvest potatoes?

Post  Icemaiden on 8/18/2010, 1:40 pm

Thanks Boffer.
That is a lot of rain! I'm not sure I'll ever have enough potatoes to actually store more than a few days in the fridge but I can always dream Laughing I find that the slugs go into the potatoes if I leave them in the ground once the leaves die down, I know that is what you should do and I used to in England but it doesn't work for me here.

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Re: How is it best to harvest potatoes?

Post  chocolatepop on 8/18/2010, 4:30 pm

Good question, last year I just dug all the soil out and replaced it all. I also built potato towers in which I can remove each lower plank to get to the taters.
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potato storage

Post  ander217 on 8/19/2010, 7:29 am

Icemaiden wrote:Thanks Boffer.
That is a lot of rain! I'm not sure I'll ever have enough potatoes to actually store more than a few days in the fridge but I can always dream Laughing

Ice Maiden, do you always store your potatoes in the 'fridge? My grandma told me they turn sweet if they get too cold so I've always stored mine in a dark closet or in a box under the bed in the guest room.

Is it an old wives' tale that they turn unpleasantly sweet if they get too cold?
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Re: How is it best to harvest potatoes?

Post  Icemaiden on 8/19/2010, 8:51 am

Hi anders217.
I think they just go sweet if they are frosted (and they get nasty grey patches too). The starch breaks down to sugar. They are fine in the fridge because it is not that cold.

Wikipedia says the sugar forms at below 4°C/39°F and that they should be stored at that temp long term, but at 7-10°C/45-50°F short term. I suppose if had more to store I could keep them in the garage which is unheated but still too warm in there for a few weeks.

I have a centrally heated house and it is way too warm to keep any food at room temperature! I keep tomatoes in the kitchen window and fruit to be eaten is in the kitchen but otherwise it is all in the fridge.

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