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I have read this question on harvesting potatoes after they flower, however mine don't seem to be in any hurry to flower.

I was given them by a friend months ago, planted them, and I have a mass of leaves that have been up all summer, but I have no idea when I should harvest them, and no information on this from my friend.

I am in central Scotland, and the soil has a high clay content - but I added a fair amount of compost under and over them when I planted them.

  • If one adds more nitrogen relative to phosphorous and potassium...reproductive growth is inhibited. Have you added a balanced fertilizer? That compost might have added too much nitrogen Was this compost fresh or was it decomposed, dried up for a couple of years? – stormy Jul 18 '17 at 23:37
  • As suggested in that question's answers - either dig up a plant or "grabble" with your hands while trying not to dig up the whole plant. As also suggested in the answers (taken as a whole, discounting the one that's inaccurate on that front), there's a wide range of acceptable times - if looking for the most and/or for storage, wait for frost. Personally, after I got past my brief thoughts of being a potato breeder, I nip the flower buds off as soon as I spot any, so "flowers falling" is not an indicator here. – Ecnerwal Jul 19 '17 at 1:46
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That is actually a pretty straight-forward proposition, regardless of flowering or not.

Basically, as long as the stems and leaves are viable, then they are feeding the growth of the tubers. When they die back, there's no reason to wait any longer. Since plants devote energy to reproduction, not having flowers might be a better thing (not sure about this part), since that production would remain focused on tubers instead of flowering.

It's best to let the plant and the weather tell you when to harvest potatoes. Wait until the tops of the vines have died before you begin harvesting. Potatoes are tubers and you want your plant to store as much of that flavorful starch as possible.

gardenknowhow.com: Harvesting Potatoes: How And When To Dig Up Potatoes

Everything else I've read about potatoes also says you dig them up when the leaves and stems die-off.

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I planted a few different varieties this year and I didn't see flowers on at least one variety. About a week ago it seemed like the flowerless plants were just starting to die off (plus I was eager for potatoes) so I dug them up and found a ton of medium to very small, very tasty potatoes. I'm sure if I had left the plants another few weeks or more I would have found a ton of medium to full sized potatoes. For reference I started these potatoes on April 12th, so about 13 weeks of growth time.

I've read you can harvest potatoes after about 10 weeks for immediate consumption, called "new" potatoes. They are smaller with thin skins and amazing flavor. From my experience I would recommend a few extra weeks because some of my potatoes were quite tiny.

Alternatively, you can let the potatoes keep growing until the plants die back or harvest right before the first frost. Then they need to cure for about two weeks before you put them away for winter storage.

Some people like to do a combo and collect a few potatoes to eat right away and then leave the rest for later. If you gently dig in the soil at the base of the plant you will find the oldest and largest potatoes. Take a few and replace the soil and leave the rest for a future date.

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