When And How to Harvest Potatoes

Well, hello there.  I’m so glad you joined me today.  I could use a hand.  Grab a garden apron, a 5 gallon bucket and a garden fork.  We are gonna dig some taters.

Those lovely little white flowers on the potato plants signal that it is time to dig for “new” potatoes.  Little sweet baby potatoes that are such so much better than anything you will find in the grocery store.

“New” potatoes are a luxury.  If you are gardening for survival, I recommend leaving them in the ground to grow to their full size.  Full size potatoes can be dug anytime after the entire plant dies and looks terribly sad and brown.   Letting them grow means higher yield overall.

However, I can never resist at least digging a dinner’s worth of “new” ones.

So whether you are digging them young or waiting for maturity, here’s how you do it.

Using a garden fork, gently poke a large circle around the potato plant.  With each poke give a little upward lift to the soil.  After the soil is loosened, put the garden fork in a deeply as you can and turn over the entire plant.

If you have a little helper at your side, have him root through the soil for any potatoes left below.  If not, you’ll have to poke about yourself.  It’s funny.  No matter how well I harvest, I always find a renegade potato the following spring as I rotate crops.

There is no rush to harvest them.  Take your time.  Dig some for dinner.  Dig now, dig later.  They are not fussy.  Just be sure to get them all before the ground freezes so hard that you can’t get them out or else you’ll be enjoying a tougher tater after spring thaw.

If you are container gardening, simply shove over your container and lets them spill out.

Another time we will discuss storage issues like canning and root cellaring.

Happy digging!


How To Plant Potatoes In Containers — Tons Of Options

Whether you are trying to avoid contaminated soil or teach the whole first grade where in tar-nation their food comes from, growing potatoes in containers is a fascinating pursuit.

Potatoes are nifty in that all the good stuff is going on under ground away from your curious eyes. Unless you are planting them in those giant clear plastic snack barrel, you never really know what’s going on under there until you dig ’em up. Surprise! There they are.

Let’s take a look at a variety on container methods.

Just click the link that interests you.

Growing Potatoes …

..in Straw — highly recommended for busy, busy teachers or anyone else that wants perfect, no-dig potatoes. Notice that the timing mentioned is for a specific locale. Now, combine this idea with any container below.

..in a Plastic Bag — plus good basic potato growing info.

…in Pots

… in Tires

… in a Garbage Can

… in a Wire Cage — perfect for those odd pieces ( 10 feet ) of welded wire or chicken wire left over from some other project

… in Biodegradable Boxeslook about half way down the page

or simply

… in a Bag of Compost.

For more on the basics of potato growing, I highly recommend Cornell’s clear, concise guide for the home gardener. Click here for potatoes.

For more gardening articles, check the beginner gardening category on the right.

Happy planting!

Any other ideas?

How to Plant Potatoes

30# of seed potatoes cut for curing

Seed potatoes cut for curing outside in the sunshine

Oh! I am very so glad you could join me today. Grab a cup of fresh coffee from the pot and let’s have a little chat about potatoes.

Since potatoes are a surprising source of vitamin C and are ever so prolific and easy to grow, let’s give it a go.

For each pound you plant an okay yield is about 10 pounds and a great yield about 20 pounds.

Personally, I forget to weed them, or forget to hill them enough as they grow or forget to even harvest them… once. I yield around 10 pounds per planted pound. Obviously, if you try, I’m sure you could do better.

Let’s begin.

Start with nice seed potatoes… oh, any kind you like is fine. Russets seem to have a zillion eyes and are usually an easy start. Katadin, Kennebec and Yukon Gold are all good keepers and generally easy enough to find. Well, at least at the seed and feed in my neck of the woods.

Cut each potato with a clean, sharp knife so that each piece contains one or (better) two eyes and is no smaller than an inch. Avoid putting the freshly cut side against the cutting board or touching it any more than necessary. Think of it like an open wound. You don’t want to introduce germs or viruses.

Carefully lay the pieces on their skins, in a single layer on any flat thing you’ve got. Place them in the sun for at least one whole day for the cuts to cure.


So they are less prone to disease when you plant them. If you cut your hand wide open, would it be wise to jam it directly into the soil or might you give it a little healing time?


I like deep beds. They are like raised beds minus the expensive, bug-attracting wooden sides. The 4’wide bed is never walked on and entirely reachabe from one side or the other.

Now imagine a domino. A double five to be exact. Okay with an extra dot between the left 5 and right 5. This is my planting pattern. A little staggered with no plant any closer than 20″ for maximum yield in a minimum space.

Now imagining that pattern, plant your seed potatoes 3 of 4 inches deep. The first five potatoes you plant will look just like the 5 from a pair of dice.

You know, I was going to take a picture, but by the time I finished putting them in and hiked back up the hill…I was just too pooped to care.

Hopefully, this makes sense.

Feel free to ask for clarification. In tomorrow’s “Neighborly Advice Vol 4” there will be another method. And they took pictures. In my defense, there are 4 of them planting and just one of me.

Did anyone understand that?

Where the heck did I put that tube of muscle rub?

If you go to the kitchen, could you grab me a cup of coffee, please?

Waiting-for-Payday Recipes: Crispy Parmesan Potato Wedges

Okay, so this one can also be done with sweet potatoes, if you’ve got them. Either way is great. Combine them if you like: 2 baking potatoes and 1 sweet potato. Your choice.

Crispy Parmesan Potato Wedges

3 medium baking potatoes or sweet potatoes

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon paprika

a pinch of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

pinch or two of pepper


1. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 6 to eight wedges.

2. Coat the wedges with the oil.

3. Put the rest of the ingredients into a gallon size baggie and mix.

4. Add the potatoes and shake to coat.

Think Shake ‘n’ Bake.

5. Place the coated potatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer.

6. Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are tender.

Enjoy them hot, but don’t burn your mouth in your excitement.

Will you make them the same next time or tinker with the spices?

For other frugal cooking ideas, check the waiting-for-payday category at the right.

Join me in about half an hour for the 1st edition of the Neighborly Advice weekend magazine. A few neighbors and I have gotten together to share some beginner articles on backyard livestock, preserving, cooking, baking, knitting, etc. Join the fun as we challenge you to learn a new skill.