Growing & harvesting potatoes

21 Oct

Last month I wrote about preparing our winter garden. At the time, I knew I would soon need to harvest potatoes, as the potato plant was beginning to yellow and die:

When most plants start yellowing in our garden, it’s very sad and I try to figure out how to save them. But when potato plants turn yellow, I get very excited and watch eagerly as the plants start to die. A couple of weekends ago, the plants looked terrible and were very close to being entirely dead. Since there was a break in the rain, I decided to harvest.

Growing potatoes is extremely easy and not very time consuming. It just involves sprouting potatoes, cutting them up, planting, and covering them with some dirt. Once the plants start to sprout, add more sprouted potatoes and cover with dirt again. Do the same thing until the pot is entirely full and there will be plenty of potatoes to harvest in a few months.

The most time consuming part of growing potatoes is harvesting, but it’s also quite fun. I dug off a layer of dirt and when I saw the first potato, I searched around for more. I repeated this process again and again until I reached the bottom of the giant pot.

I underestimated the size of my harvest so by the end of my treasure hunt, my basket was overflowing:

Overflowing and dirty, so I spent a fair amount of time washing them off and then allowed them to air dry on a paper towel for a couple of hours.

It’s important to dry them entirely before storing and then to store them in a cool, dry place. (The best place to store them is in a box of sand, but since I don’t have that, I just stored them in a box out of the way of sunlight.)

Last week we got to taste our delicious harvest, when my wife made potatoes with garden rosemary for breakfast. Since we don’t have chickens (one day!) we used eggs from the farmers market. It was a delicious breakfast.

Now the giant potato pot is sitting empty and looks very sad every time I pass it in the garden, but soon it will be full again as I’ve been working on sprouting potatoes for the last several weeks. And by working I mean just leaving the potatoes out and allowing them to sprout.

I checked on them this morning (this photo was taken a couple of weeks ago) and it looks like at least some of them should be ready to plant in a week. So I’ll start the entire cycle over again.

Next time you mistakenly sprout potatoes (it happens to everyone), think about sticking them in the ground. I promise it will be well worth it.

5 Responses to “Growing & harvesting potatoes”

  1. Raudel October 21, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I love this article!! That breakfast looks good!

  2. veronicabeaty October 21, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Very cool! I will certainly give this a try next time I forget to eat some potatoes.

  3. Todd October 21, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    When you say “cutting (the potatoes) up”, do you mean cutting them into little pieces before planting, or scoring them?

    • Rebecca Saltzman (aka Becks) October 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

      Good question. I mean cutting them into pieces. You should make sure each piece has a sprout but otherwise it doesn’t matter how many pieces you cut a potato into or how large those pieces are.

  4. giulietta nicole October 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Really enjoyed this post. How encouraging to see successful potato farming in a container!

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