Harvesting Potatoes

I know gardeners and farmers are supposed to be patient, but sometimes I just can’t stand the suspense any longer. I just HAD to harvest one of my potato buckets the other day.


Similar to onions, potatoes will die back when it’s approaching harvest time. First, the potato leaves will turn yellow (as in the picture above). Then, the plants will start to wilt and die.

Potatoes dying back

Potatoes dying back

Although you can harvest them as soon as the plants die back, it’s better to wait two weeks for the potato skins to “harden” because the potatoes will keep better.

Well, I harvested one of my buckets a week early. See that middle bucket in the front row in the picture above? That plant was completely dead, so I thought I’d harvest that one first. It was purple potatoes.

I pulled the dead branches off then dumped the bucket on to a screen placed over my compost pile. Here’s what I found:

Purple potato harvest

Purple potato harvest

I was excited over my first potato harvest, yet a little disappointed at the size of the potatoes. The largest of these potatoes is about half the size of the potato I used for seed. The smallest of these? Well, yes, you can laugh. I did. Who’s ever seen potatoes the size of marbles?

I think two things happened. First, I planted the potatoes in five gallon buckets, filling the dirt halfway; then I didn’t hill them up until the plant had reached above the top of the bucket. I think I should’ve hilled them up in two or three stages. There were no tubers/potatoes growing from the midpoint of the bucket upwards – as there should’ve been.

The other thing may be because the buckets are too small. However, I may try the buckets again next year and just hill them up at least two times before they reach the top of the bucket.

I’m waiting another week to harvest the other four buckets of purple potatoes. The fingerling potatoes are just starting to die back, so that harvest will have to wait another couple weeks, I think. I’ll post pictures of that, too.

Are you growing potatoes? If so, what kind? How are you planting them – in the ground, raised beds, buckets, grow bags? Comment below and share your experience!



I harvested the fingerling potatoes a week after the purple potatoes. Look how they came out of the bucket!

Fingerling potatoes at harvest

Fingerling potatoes at harvest

See how they’re attached to the stem via the roots? I was just amazed!

I will surely grow more potatoes next year. This time, in a large bed – so I can have more!



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