Q&A: When to Harvest Potatoes

It's hard to know the best time to pluck these root vegetables out of the ground. (Photo: Tommy Hemmert Olesen [CC BY ND-2.0]/Flickr)

Q: This spring I noticed that some of my potatoes had spent too long in the fridge and had some very nice eyes, so I decided to attempt to plant them in the garden. I now have some beautiful potato plants. My question is, how will I know when to dig up the potatoes?

A: First of all, I love the fact that you decided to plant the potatoes instead of just tossing them away. I’m sure that when you do harvest them, you will enjoy eating them more than any store-bought potato just because you grew them yourself.

I’ve never grown potatoes, so I did a little research. If you want “new potatoes” – small, immature potatoes, you should harvest them before their vines die – earlier in the summer. They will be about 1 to 2 inches in size.

If you want mature potatoes, or “late potatoes,” you should harvest them in late summer/early fall. Wait for the vines and the flowers to die, and then harvest the potatoes at full maturity.

If you have a lot of plants, you can harvest some of the plants earlier in the summer and get “new potatoes” and leave the rest to dig up later. Since this is your first time planting potatoes, it might be a fun experiment to try digging some at the end of July, some at the end of August, and some at the end of September. Then if you choose to do it again next year, you’ll have a better idea about how big they are at what time of the season.

I found this video by super8guy on YouTube that will help with the actual digging when you decide to harvest.