How do you know when potatoes are ready to harvest?
Once your potato plants have flowered, you can start to “bandicoot” for new potatoes.
Bandicooting = gentling digging around the potato plants with your hands to harvest potatoes near the surface without disturbing the plant or pulling it out.
The new potatoes you harvest when bandicooting, won’t have a properly formed skin (you can often rub the skin off with your fingers), so they won’t keep for very long. They are best used the same day as harvesting.
I love new baby potatoes, boiled whole and then lightly coated in butter and fresh parsley…..YUMMMMM!
To harvest your “main potato crop”, wait until ALL the plants have died right down. By time the plants have died down the potatoes will have formed proper skins (in fact you can leave them in the ground for up to 2 weeks after the plants have died down to develop their skins further). An intact, mature skin on a potato is vital to its longer term storage. To harvest CAREFULLY, use a fork or a small spade to dig around each plant and tease the potatoes from the ground.
If you accidentally hit a potato with your fork or spade and you break the skin – put this spud in the pile to use straight away, as they won’t store.
Preparing your potatoes for storage:
Spread your newly harvested potatoes (not new potatoes) out on some newspaper in a spot protected from rain & sun. Leave them for a few hours, until the soil sticking to them has dried.
Gently rub off any excess dirt and place them in either a cardboard box or hessian bag ready for storage.
How to store your potatoes:
Store you potatoes in either a cardboard, wooden box or hessian sack in a cool (but not refridgerated) and dark spot.
It helps to have good air flow around your potatoes while they are in storage, so make sure the room or cupboard you place them in doesn’t get humid or stuffy.
Check your spuds regularly – if any have gone soft or green throw them out.