by Johanna Silver, Sunset test garden coordinator
When are potatoes ready to harvest? Wait until a couple of weeks after your crop has finished flowering (or maybe even fruiting). Dig your hands through the soil for a few test taters. Keep watering them regularly if you want to grow them larger.
If you're happy with the size then it's time to cut the water and let the plants die. This causes the potatoes to suberize — a process that cures the outer layer of skin, making it less likely to scratch right off and increasing the storing capacity of the crop. This process takes about two weeks — then it's harvest time. You can definitely eat potatoes without the suberization process, but it's important to remember that they won't store as well, and any scratches to the skin can make them susceptible to bacteria.
Ah, the potato harvest. Rip up a plant and you will find a number of potatoes dripping off the bottom. Then use a shovel and carefully dig a deep, two foot margin all sides of the plant, as the spuds are known to spread. Bury your hands all around the soil and reward yourself with beautiful potatoes. It's the best.
It would have made a great picture, right? But I got so carried away in the fun of searching for them that I neglected to have a photo taken. Drat. What I can say is this: I suddenly understood why someone named them Yukon GOLD. It's like a gold mine when you are digging your hands through the dirt and finally pop out a beautiful, creamy, gem of a potato.
Lastly, I inevitably splice right through a few when I'm digging them up. These are the ones I wash thoroughly and eat that very night for dinner.
Try 'em in Rosemary Potatoes Anna from our One-block Feast menu.