As new gardeners, we planted potatoes and now we do not know what to do with them. We dig them up but how do we store them?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Dolores in Kentucky: Potatoes are a fun crop to grow, and with so many cultivars you can grow several different kinds each year. Selecting varieties that are early maturing, as well as ones that are mid to late maturing, will provide you with potatoes all season long and enough to store for the winter months. If you wait a couple of weeks after the vines have died to harvest the early crop of potatoes, the skins are sure to be toughened. If you dig them up before the vines have died back, the potatoes may be smaller and the skins not as tough but still totally edible. With the later planted crops, they should be dug as soon as the first frost kills the vines. When digging up your potatoes, be careful not to bruise them, especially if you intend on storing them. This will cause rot, and you also want to avoid keeping the potatoes in the field after they have been dug. Exposing them to high temperatures and intense sunlight can cause sunscald and as a result they will turn green and taste bitter. As a general rule, late harvest potatoes store better than early harvest ones. Either way, it is important to let them dry in a dark space with good air circulation for a couple of weeks to allow them to cure. During the curing process, the ideal temperature would be 50-55 degrees F. After the tubers have cured they can be placed in crates, baskets, or mesh bags. Do not clean the potatoes until you are ready to eat them. Leaving a bit of soil on them helps them to store better. They can be stored for four to six months in a cool (40 degrees F) space with good air circulation and relatively high humidity. Storing them in a clean space will help prevent disease issues.