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Ask a Master Gardener: When do I harvest new potatoes?

Any type of potato can be harvested as a new potato, but some varieties produce earlier than others.

Lincoln Park Middle School students fill a bucket with potatoes freshly dug from one of the school's gardens. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com
Lincoln Park Middle School students fill a bucket with potatoes dug from a school garden. The University of Minnesota Extension says any type of potato can be harvested as a new potato, but some varieties produce earlier than others.
Bob King / 2018 file / Duluth News Tribune
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Q: I was at the farmers market in Duluth last weekend and bought some new potatoes. I grow potatoes in my garden but I’ve always let them go all the way to maturity. (I wait to harvest until the plant dies.) If I wanted to harvest some of them as new potatoes, how would I know when to do that? Does it matter what variety I grow?

A: The Extension resources I consulted said that you can harvest new potatoes seven or eight weeks after planting the seed potatoes, after the plant has flowered. Any type of potato can be harvested as a new potato, but some varieties produce earlier than others. My experience with some fancy, late-maturing purple potatoes was that they were still tiny after seven weeks.

Extension recommends spraying with a repellent that contains egg putrescence.

You can harvest the entire plant, or you can carefully dig around the plant and take a few small potatoes, leaving others to grow larger.

Potatoes that are harvested before they are mature have a thin, tender skin. This is what makes them so prized for eating — but it also means you have to handle them a little more carefully.

If you’re not going to eat them right away, it’s best to store them with the dirt still clinging to them. Don’t wash them until right before you cook them. And don’t store them for long — a week or two, tops.

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Written by U of M Extension Master Gardeners in St. Louis County. Send questions to  features@duluthnews.com .

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