Harvesting Potatoes: Gleaning Knowledge Along the Way

As part of the “potato head” group which participated in potato preparation, planting, hilling, protecting, and now harvesting, here is what I have learned so far:

  • There is something so exciting about those red, blue, and gold potatoes emerging from the soil, watching then spill out from the dirt makes you just want to break out into a dance! Gathering them from the overturned dirt and disengaging the ones still attached to the plant – there is an intense satisfaction and joy to hold those little and not so little potatoes in your hand— some plants have just 2 -3 big ones, others have 8-10 of varying size, so it is often a surprise what is below ground.
  • I can see why having several eyes in one piece is a good thing! My idea that “1 is enough” is valid in that some potatoes will be produced from the plant, but now that the potato project is coming full cycle, I have learned that more eyes means more stalks and more stalks means more opportunities for spuds to grow in the same place…  meaning less work at harvest to get possibly a similar amount of potatoes.  After two hours of digging potatoes for market, I can see this is a good thing, which leads to next point…
  • Harvesting is back-breaking work. I have a 2-hour maximum.
  • Working in pairs is fun and actually makes the work easier! A threesome is even easier, with little loss in efficiency and much gain in speed.
  • In addition to hat, sunscreen, and water bottle, wearing a kerchief or bandanna or a Headwick really helps to keep from dripping everywhere, because, as noted, harvesting is back-breaking work.
  • Even so, I can’t wait to do it again!   

Here is a photo of a normal Johnny red potato plant just spilling over with spuds (thanks Marilyn!), and another of the potatoes prepared for market (thanks Margret!)

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