I grew potatoes in my garden, the vines are dying and the potatoes are done. The problem is it is still too hot to store them, can I leave them in the ground until cooler weather?
Hardiness Zone: 6a
By Robert from Columbus, OH
YES! By all means! You can leave them in the ground till it gets cold outside- so as long as the ground itself [or taters] does not freeze.
I have done this successfully in my zone 4- zone 5 till way past 'gardening season' [ meaning till late October, early November]. The taters were still quite hard, fresh and good! They will not grow any more though.
I have done this while I waited for enough room to put them away. Plus you can still harvest a few to eat any night you want.
If you have never done this before, after you harvest, they will need a few days out of the ground to 'cure'. Not in any place sunny [ they'll turn green!] but in an area free from moisture. I used to put them in single layers on an old window screen for a few days. Do not wash, just wipe dirt off with hand or brush. Use any bruised or cut pieces sooner than later.
After curing, you can store in cold area of basement in baskets or bins or boxes [all with aeration]. Some folks like to put them away in a refrigerator.
Also weigh your harvest to see how 'good' you did.
1 lb of taters planted in spring should yield about 10 lbs in fall.
Less that that is a bit of a poor harvest and more is pretty darn good. [ Some varieties will produce better than others]
Some taters will want to sprout while in storage over the winter-- that's OK. Either snip off sprouts or save those sprouted spuds to plant for next spring!
Also visit any health food store in the winter and try all of their organic potato varieties. Whichever ones you like can be purchased, stored and then used as your 'seed potatoes' next spring. Sometimes this is much cheaper [ and healthier] than any garden catalog offerings!
Remember the 1 lb / 10 lb rule above. Or try a few different types ...and grow them all! One year we did 10 different organic types: red, white, blue, yellow, purple, etc. Yum!]
Hope this has been helpful to you!
Just dig them before the first hard freeze. Frozen potatoes rot quickly. It won't hurt them if it is 32, but depending on how deep they are you don't want to leave them when it gets down into the 20's.
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