How do you store your potatoes?

organica(7RichmondVA)March 28, 2005

Hoping to harvest at least 200 lbs of potatoes this year and store them. Winters are pretty mild here in zone 7. It goes below freezing occasionally, but rarely does any kind of cold spell last more than a few days, if that. Most days, the temp stays above freezing. I was thinking of packing the taters into plastic bins, with insulating material around them, and simply stacking the bins outside on my concrete patio.

Anyone know if this method is likely to work? Do the bins need to be airtight, or can they have a few holes in them?

The more I read on the subject, the more confusing it gets!

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Dont store the ones that are nicked or have bad spots. Only store the good ones. Dont wash them, as they will get moldy. a basement seems to be the best place here in Ny as the winters get 20 below. I tried the garage and that was too cold. This year seems to be a success with the basement. It didnt get too cold. I put them in an old dresser. I layed them in the drawers on some homemade racks to keep the moisture from building up. they kinda need to breath. Keep them in the dark. I left the drawers open a crack also. seemed to work fairly well.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 11:08AM
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An old dresser - great idea! Drawers full of potatoes. Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 4:48PM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

Do a google search and you will come up with lots of ideas...there some real "Old time" sites around that will even tell you how to store them as they did a hundred years ago...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 12:30PM
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hengal(z5 / IN)

Okay - well I have another question. We have a basement that is not completely finished. (very old farmhouse) and it usually remains very damp, albeit cool down there. Will the moisture in the air be a problem for the potatoes if I store them there? It would be a perfect place, if the dampness wasn't a problem. Anyone know?? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2005 at 1:27PM
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Hengal, what I have read about root cellars indicates that moisture is a good thing. I think Eliot Coleman's book advises that one should regularly pour a bucket of water on the cellar floor to create moisture.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 7:53AM
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hengal(z5 / IN)

LOL! Well now! Thats not a problem at all for our old basement!! LOL! Water seeps in, the sub pump takes it out. Thanks very much!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 10:13AM
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As I said in my first posting, the more I read, the more confusing it gets. But I went ahead and did a search. Some say to store them in a cool dry place, some say a cool humid place. All agree that they shouldn't freeze or be stored for long at room temp, and that a temp of about 45 degrees is good.

Here are a couple of the links. I was expecting to hear more suggestions! Isn't potato storage the first order of vegetable self-sufficiency?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 8:44AM
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I believe the amount of moisture may depend a little on the type of tater you're trying to store.

I stored some in my house before and they shriveled, as it was too dry,

I stored some at my parents basement, they mildewed,it was too wet and

baby bear stored them in my stonewalled basement and it was just And we ate them all up...:))
Trial and error?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 9:51AM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Not sure about the plastic buckets. I've always used wooden "hampers" or baskets, lined with newspaper so they could breathe. I think the air circulation is kind of important. Just don't dry them outside where the sun can get to them. This produces solarinem or solinerian or something like that - green spotting and sometimes known as sun poisoning. Not good. Got to pare way down into the potato and don't feed to children. My mom always thought you had to cure them in the sun. Don't know how we survived. God protects children and idiots, I guess.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 1:45PM
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StellaBelle(zone 5 pa)

Don't know if it is the correct way but I learned from an old timer 15 yrs ago how to store winter potatoes and it's always worked for me.
I bury 2 large garbage cans(snap lid kind) completely into the ground. Top of can about 12 inches from top of hole. Make sure potatoes are dry with NO rotten spots. pour them all in, snap lids in place then fill rest of hole with hay to completely cover(insulates). Whenever you want them just flip back hay and gather.
Like I said probably not the correct way to go about it, but I'm not gonna change now. Have always had success with this.
Best of Luck

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 10:16PM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Stella, I'd say that's about the perfect way to store them. Most of us don't have the gumption to bury those cans in the first place--easy way out, you know.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 9:53AM
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A cellar is a great place to store them. Get some straw and put down a layer, lay out a layer of tators, then keep adding a layer of straw, layer of tators. Ending with a layer of straw.

The tators need humidity and air. The straw provides the air circulation and humidity can be added by pouring some water in every now and then. Not to much water or they will rot.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 5:22PM
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What do you do with them if you don't have a garage or basement and you live in the south where it gets really hot and humid? I'll hopefully be harvesting some soon (first timer here)? Haven't dug them yet, there not ready. But would like to be prepared if they make good. TIA, trudyjean

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 5:50AM
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bhaarer(Z7b NC)

I'm in there with trudyjean! I live in eastern NC. There's no guarantee anything will stay cold over the winter. Last winter we had a stretch of 70-degree weather for 2 weeks in January; all the fruit trees started blooming. I do not have a basement. I planted 100 feet of potatoes this summer, and hope to store a lot of them. I plan to stash a few here & there, experimenting to see where they do best (here's hoping I remember where I put all those taters...)
So far here are my ideas - I do have a crawlspace under my house, I will try a few under there. I have an old upright cedar chest that I use to store blankets & such in the warmer months, I might try some potatoes in there. (This is in my bedroom. We keep our bedroom pretty chilly in winter. I have not yet won my husband over to the idea of keeping potatoes in the bedroom. There's still time, though.) My mother used to keep a big bushel barrel of them in a dark pantry closet in her kitchen (this was in a really cold drafty New England house, tho, might not work here). And I have a lean-to type shed on the north side of my house. It gets no sun, so regardless of balmy winter temps, it'll stay coolest in winter - I'll try that too.
Any other southern potato-growers have some ideas??

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 2:22PM
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Here in Richmond, we have "pneumonia weather" like you do - it swings wildly from warm to cool, wet to dry constantly during winter and spring. Which makes me think that underground storage is probably the best option, because it will provide the most consistent, stable temperatures and conditions. I think that's what I'll try for my taters this year.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 8:13AM
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Sorry everyone...this is a very old thread I am bringing back to life. I was a little bored over here in the "sand box" so I was reading the old posts.

I live in SW Ohio and I have never stored a potatoe in my life! I put out about 60-lbs of seed potatoes that produce about 1,000-lbs. We leave them in the ground. When we need potatoes...I send the boys to the garden and they dig up a couple hills or 10 - 20 lbs of them.

You lose some to rot and freezing in Jan - Feb...but it has always worked for me and my dad; grandpa; and his dad; and so on and so on!

I bush hog the garden down in Sept - early Oct and plow the garden over everywhere except where the potatoes are. When I plow in the spring...I always turn up more than enough seed for this years garden.

Works like a charm!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 4:29PM
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valree3(Nv zone 4)

Just dug up my potatoes and I'm still confused on how to store them. I cant keep them in the ground because we freeze really hard in No. Nevada (-25* temp. average) and the voles love them. No basement but I have a cool area that would work. Is humidity really important? The only time we have humidity is when it rains, and we haven't had rain since this past May! Another question - do you wash the potatoes with water to remove the soil or just let them dry and brush off the soil? So many questions and so few potatoes this year! Next year I'm aiming for the King Potato Patch!!!!! Valree

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 6:28PM
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Ive found that either leaving them in the ground or keeping them in an old (running)fridge does two things. The potatoes do keep in these conditions but after a few weeks the starch in the potatoes begin to turn to sugar and while taste wise it only makes the potatoes sweeter it alters the texture and makes it nearly impossible to get them to brown when frying. I am assuming that storage in temps below 45 degrees for a longer period of time is the culprit. Root cellars dug into the ground would stay at temps somewhere between 53 and 57 degrees in my area.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 8:50AM
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I leave my potato's in the ground until I need them through out the winter here in PA. Cover them with 12 inch of straw or leaves in the fall. The ground remains unfrozen under that blanket of future compost.Works good for carrots also

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 3:39PM
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Years ago when I lived and worked at fruit orchard in Idaho the neighboring farmer was harvesting his potatoes. luckly enough he consent to letting me get what the harvester didn't get. I got an old frig dug a hole and laid it on it's back inside that hold, replace the dirt around the hole and placed the potates in the frig.. All though it might not have been necessary, I place dirt over the top of the frig and whenever I wanted a nice BIG IDAHO POTATO all I had to do was go to my storage.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 11:20AM
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I have yet to try storing potatoes, and have enjoyed reading and gleening information from all the posts.
Thanks to all who left me with fantastic information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tired of working 5 days a week?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 8:31AM
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Anyone know how to store potatoes in Alaska?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 5:31PM
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Where in AK are you? I'm in the Interior.

You do get better storage if you cure the potatoes. But curing means laying them out in a shady spot for a few hours to dry out, since excess moisture on the skin surface will rot them once they are in contact with other potatoes. Not in direct sunlight.

The poison is a glycoalkaloid called solanine, I think.

The crawlspace is pretty handy. The straw recommendation works, but usually brings in bugs too. If you can close off the crawlspace and let spiders do their thing than no biggy. Otherwise, using milkcrates lets in plenty of air, and the crates can be stacked.

If it needs to be outside, could do an in-the-ground storage method (one of the classics like the garbage bin or the 5-gallon bucket) covered with straw, under a low row cover to extend the storage season and buy you time to use up the crop. The top potato varieties in AK aren't known for their extended storage life, but for flavor! No matter what, if you are in the interior or anywhere adjacent the ground will freeze pretty early, and eventually so will the stored crops--but with row cover and insulation, maybe not until...November? Depends on the setup. Problem is, once the storage bin is opened, some supplemental heat will need to be added (hot rocks or something) to balance out the incoming cold air. A lot of bother if not much crop (less than 2-3 buckets).

If you have a garage with a framed-in unheated attic, that might be a place for a BIG load of potatoes. But if you have that much space or crop, an insulated root cellar with a remote temp sensor to tell you when to wheel out the little oil-fin heater is the way to go. Digging my hole for one of those right now.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 12:19AM
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