Return to the Rocky Mountain Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Potato questions!

Posted by skybird z5, Denver, CO (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 6, 09 at 22:16

Hi all,

Neophyte potato gardener back with more questions!

How do you know when its time to dig up potatoes??? Mine were growing tall and green until a couple weeks ago, and now theyve all flopped over and some are starting to look pretty peaked! Will the potatoes keep getting bigger if I leave them a while longer, or should I dig up whatever Ive gotten now? If theyre "done growing" and I leave them in the soil, will something bad happen to themlike theyll start growing a second time and wont be edible anymore?

Heres the progression of my compost pile potato garden!







Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Potato questions!

I am definitely not a potato expert but my plants always get hit with a virus/bacteria of some sort that curls up their leaves about this time of year. At some point of boredom in the winter months I attempted an identification and bookmarked some websites. I'll try to look that up if you think you might have a similar problem. I do rotate the planting area every year and I dont use pesticides.
I still leave them in the ground for a while longer because it seems the leaves may still be doing something and the potatoes are fresh and normal (altho small), even up to three months later. The potato plants seem to maintain a level of... degradation (for lack of a better word) after looking a bit worse than yours do now, if that makes sense. If yours have a similar disease as mine, they may yet live although they will be darn ugly. Let me know if that doesnt make sense, someone served me a glass of red wine with dinner and its gone straight to my head. Also, if someone has expert advice, Id love to hear it.
Skybird, I have compost potatoes this year too! Its the first year I havent planted my own because of my back and the first year Ive had compost taters. Just another little thing I am learning to appreciate.
Are your leaves curled? Do you have any sign of disease?

RE: Potato questions!

Hi Azura,

Thanks for the response. Its really great to see you posting around here again. I was planning to post on your thread, but havent gotten over there yet, so Ill reply to you here! Sorry to hear about your back problems. With all the bodily damage Ive had in the last few years, I know what its like to hurt all the time! At least my back isnt giving me any problemsyet!

But Im glad youve found the joy in "just looking!" When I get home from a trip, almost alwaysand no matter how tired I am, I come in the front door and go straight out the back door for a slow walk around the yard. I do that several other times during the day when Im home, but when Im still in uniform I dont want to get it dirty, so I dont even pull out "a few small weeds!" Its strictly a "Im back home in my wonderful garden" walk. Its so relaxing, and so gets me "over" whatever happened on my flites! I love to do that when Im out in the hills or on vacation too. Just take my time when Im hikingwhich is usually really more like plain old walkingand look at the trees and other plants and rocks and sky and.......... In spite of all the problems, it really is a wonderful world we live in!

I dont think the potatoes have a disease. The foliage looks to me kind of like its "at the end of its useful life," but theres no curling or spots or bugs or anything like that. Ive kind of wondered a little bit if they might be too drythats sorta what it looks likebut the "original" potatoes are at the very bottom of the 2 X 12, and then I filled it up with half digested compost, so it seems to me it should be staying pretty wet all the way down on the bottom. And the same thing happened last year when they were actually growing right in the compost pile, and they were way plenty wet then. It just kind of looks like theyve decided its the end of the growing season and theyre "done!" But never having grown potatoes "for real," I dont know if that happens or not. Hopefully a RMG "expert" will be along to help us both!

Hope youre feeling better soon,

RE: Potato questions!

You'll know - they'll flower then the lvs will start to turn then just before they get crispy, start digging. Hard to describe, easy to see, esp if you do garlic and onions - same signals.


RE: Potato questions!

What Dan said, looks right to me.

If you leave the new tubers in the ground, there is a risk that they will begin to sprout - especially, if there is plenty of soil moisture.

You don't want that to happen. So, when they are done, they're done.


RE: Potato questions!

Thanks guys! I don't see any indication that they're gonna bloom before the foliage completely yellows, but I'll wait a while longer and see what they do. If I see any indication of new green growth coming up, they're going in my stomach!

Thanks again,

RE: Potato questions!

Yum. BBQ at Skybird's!


RE: Potato questions!

Planted potatoes a few times, this year makes year 6? Always left them in the ground until about the first frost. I did not harvest last year until well after the first frost. Mine are all snuggled in straw and leaves until then.
That is when the plants are completely dead. They usually bloom a blue/lavander flower around mid August for me. Then they die off and I harvest after the tomatoes are done.
I have never had any new tubers sprout until the next spring. That is when you find out how many potatoes you missed in the fall.
You can dig into one side and find out what you have under a plant, but they will still be very small, more likely than not.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Rocky Mountain Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here