Proper storage ensures you can enjoy garden potatoes from the time of harvest until the first new potatoes are ready to harvest the following year. Yellow and white potato varieties, as well as those labeled as late-maturing, generally store better than the more thin-skinned red varieties. Allowing the green plant to die back before harvest can also help prolong storage life.
- Cure Correctly
Cured potatoes develop a drier skin, which helps prolong storage. Begin curing before you harvest by reducing water two weeks before you dig the potatoes up. After digging the potatoes, spread them out on a blanket or on top of newspaper sheets in a well-ventilated area at around 21 to 24 degrees celsius. Cure them in a dark area so the potatoes don’t develop any greening. Potatoes store best when cured for about 10 days.
- Clean and Inspect
Although soil may cling to harvested and cured potatoes, don’t use water to rinse it off before storage. The moisture can cause the potatoes to rot. Instead, gently brush off any excess soil with your hands. Handle the potatoes gently so you don’t bruise them. Inspect each potato as you clean it. Only store healthy tubers with no visible cuts or bruises. Use the damaged potatoes right away so only those in the best condition go into storage.
- Pack It Up
Air circulation during storage helps prevent rot problems. Pack the potatoes loosely, two or three potatoes deep, in crates or boxes with ventilation holes along the sides. If light exposure during storage is a concern, cover the potatoes with a piece of burlap or a thin layer of straw. If boxes aren’t available, you can store the potatoes in mesh bags. Any storage container must allow the air to circulate freely so the potatoes don’t develop mold or rot.
- Successful Storage
A cool, dark place at around 7 to 10 degrees Celsius provides the best environment to store potatoes. An unheated garage may maintain these temperatures during fall and winter. Potatoes store best in a slightly humid area, as overly dry air may lead to moisture loss and shriveling. Inspect the potatoes monthly during storage and dispose off any that develop soft or rotten spots. If a potato begins to sprout, remove it from storage and use it immediately. Properly cured and stored potatoes can retain their quality for up to eight months.