Harvesting and storing potatoes during winter can be a challenge.
With some tips and tricks, you can keep them good all the way through the winter without a root cellar.
A few things to observe before harvesting.
The first one is once the vine has completely died from the ground up to its tips, the potatoes underground are not going to develop or grow anymore.
The harvest isn’t over
However, you can still harvest potatoes even when their vines are still green and alive.
Though you’ll only get smaller ones with thinner skin.
You can use a small shovel to dig into the dirt slowly until you see the potatoes.
If they are in a harvestable size, you can pull them out from the vine.
If you decided not to harvest and just wanted to peek at the development of your potatoes, you have to make sure to properly cover them back with dirt.
Keep sun exposure low.
These potatoes should not get exposed to the sun for a long period of time.
If they are, the potatoes will turn green and get toxic.
Know your capacity
When harvesting potatoes, you would also need to consider your storage space.
If you don’t have enough space, the best option is to use an insulation method to keep the potatoes fresh but not frozen underground during winter.
The insulation method works well even in places where you get mild snow, about 5 Degrees Fahrenheit with a snow thickness of about 3 feet.
However, this is not advisable if your area has thick snow that freezes the ground as it would also freeze your potatoes.
Keep it earthy
To properly insulate the ground where your unharvested potatoes are, the best insulation material to cover them is straw.
When buying straw bales, look for the ones with lesser seed heads.
Insulating your potato grounds is also beneficial during winter as it protects the dirt underneath from heavy rains and snow and avoids freezing.
You would want to spread your straw evenly into the ground, about 4 to 6 inches of straw is enough thickness to insulate.
Before harvesting, you would need to check the weather so you will know how many potatoes you would need to harvest.
Keep it humid, not wet
One thing to consider with the insulation method is to make sure that the soil is well draining.
You don’t want your potatoes underground to rot because the soil gets wet easily during winter or heavy rains.
Since potatoes need a high amount of humidity when storing, this method works best in keeping the soil’s humidity until you get to Spring Season.
Though the insulation method is dependent on the climate, it may not be suitable if you are expecting a heavy winter season.
You’ll end up harvesting all of your potatoes.
When that happens, it is best to cure them in a well-ventilated room where they are spaced evenly.
Curing is simply drying out the skin.
And when you cure, do not wash your potatoes.
It is also advisable to cure them while you still have good warm days or indoors using artificial heat like a wood stove if outside temperatures are already cold.
Techniques and advice are abundant
Other methods of storing potatoes include, but are limited to, pressure canning, freeze dry, and dehydrating methods.
The main goal is to preserve your potatoes and ensure that you have enough throughout the season.
Learn more about the best ways to store potatoes all year in the video below!
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