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Posted: 9/30/2007 12:44:08 PM EST
When do I dig my potatoes out of the ground?
Link Posted: 10/1/2007 3:34:57 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/1/2007 3:36:51 PM EST by Kitties-with-Sigs]

Do you get frosts there?

Do you know how--with spading fork of some kind is best--better than a shovel or a hoe or other "cutting" tool.

My family did theirs with grubbing hoes all my life, but the best/easiest way is with a dull-pointed fork. You'll cut/spear fewer potatoes.

Have you dug around to see what's down there? I think most folks will have their potatoes out by now, but I don't know your seasons/zones.

Link Posted: 10/1/2007 4:05:04 PM EST
It hasn't frosted here yet, but I look for it within the month. Is it ok for me to just dig around a little bit and see how they are doing and if they look ok/big enough take them out?
Link Posted: 10/2/2007 4:13:14 PM EST

I went out and dug them up tonight. from four plants I got four decent sized potatoes and a bunch of small ones. I turned all of the plant and roots under the soil for next year.
Link Posted: 10/5/2007 6:25:18 PM EST
I've ecently dug up a couple hundred pounds of spuds. If I dig 'em all up now and store in a 'cold room' (which isn't cold yet) I'll loose them. So I have maybe 30 pounds in the cold room and reburied the rest. No. I am not insane....

I've seen some information on The Potato Clamp (google it). Its a VERY old storage technique. Dig a shallow pit. Line with straw. Pile the spuds. Layer more straw. Pile on 6+ inches of dirt so you end up with a large mound. You can break into it and retreive the spuds later.

This is the first attempt at clamp storage. I am not looking to store them all winter. However, I do have three mounds. I am intending to break into each one as required. My HOPE is that the colder ground temps and appropriate humidity help keep these 'taters in good condition a little longer.

BTW: you can dig em up any time the plants are dying....
Link Posted: 10/6/2007 4:32:56 AM EST
I manage part of the R&D for the largest frozen french fry company in the world so I'm glad when I see a topic I know something about. I don't see anything wrong in the advice above but maybe I can give you the reasons for it.

1. You can dig and eat potatoes anytime during the growing cycle. The reason you usually dig the entire plot up when the vines are dying is that as the vines die, they force more energy into the tuber (a potato is not part of the root system, it is an energy storage device for the plant, much as fat is for a human). This means the potatoes will be higher in solids and lower in moisture. This probably only means much to someone who has to make potato products from them commercially, but it makes for a fluffier baked potato or more solid waxy type.

2. Your storage pit is really a pretty good idea. The optimum storage condition for potatoes is about 50°F and 80% relative humidity. If the storage is too cold, the potato (still a living organism) will convert some starch to sugar and your french fries will get too dark. If stored too warm, the plant thinks it's about time to regrow and it will sprout. ...and please keep them out of the light. Potatoes hit with too much light will get that green color (quite often one or two that poke up through the dirt). That green color contains a mild glycoalkaloid called "solanine". That green part is kind of bitter anyway so you can just peel it off and the rest of the potato is fine.

What variety did you each grow?

Link Posted: 10/6/2007 7:33:25 AM EST
kennebec and red pontiac...

Link Posted: 10/6/2007 12:52:17 PM EST
you guys mind if I throw in a side question? I can start a new thread if need be, let me know...

my neighbor says they just dug seed potatoes and stored them over the rest of the year/summer in a woven basket in a shed. So Im trying it, but what litle light trickled in has turned the potatoes green at least the ones on top.

So I'm going to go for it next spring and plant these as seed potatoes. Frozenny, mine are kennebec too. Real happy with them. I probably will get a half bushel of seed potatoes from the store too, but what are your predictions of this storage technique? we don't plan to eat them just to replant next year.
Link Posted: 10/6/2007 6:36:05 PM EST

I dunno.... Your climate and mine differ. I cannot store 'taters for 9 months in a shed or a cold room. Mine cold room is 50 during Jan and Feb, but much of the time its only ten degrees or so cooler than ambient. As a result my spuds sprout fast.

I can sometimes get 4,5,6 weeks out of potatoes. Sprouting gets bad beyond that, and they start to shrink and shrivel. There is no way a basket in the shed, garage, basement, or cold room will stretch storage from mid Sept to late May/early June. Ain't gonna happen here. Humidity is one problem. Temp is another.

I am anxious to see how these clamps work. It should at least solve the humidity problem, and I hope to get them out my Thanksgiving. With luck I'll be able to run Early August through to late March on my spuds.

With your moderate climate I have to wonder if a clamp would cover teh whole winter....
Link Posted: 10/6/2007 8:48:59 PM EST
Can potatoes grow year round? I am in Central Texas so we have a long growing season.

Link Posted: 10/7/2007 4:02:26 AM EST
Can you eat potatoes raw?
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 5:13:28 PM EST
To answer the last two questions, yes and yes. How do I know? Look where I'm from.

By the way, potatoes are a food staple. You can live eating potatoes alone.
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