If this is the first year you’ve grown sweet potatoes, you may be wondering how and when you should harvest these orange beauties, since they are hidden underground.

In most midwestern climates, it’s time to harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow or brown and before the first frost or freeze of the season.

Start by cutting off all the foliage. (Chickens love to eat these.) Then use a garden fork to carefully dig around the plants to find the potatoes. The trick is trying to not damage them in the process. Then, brush off the dirt and store them for up to two weeks in a warm, humid area until the skins toughen up. Then you can move then to a cool, dry storage area for use all winter. Do not wash your sweet potatoes until you’re ready to use them.

To see a how-to video, check out Harvesting Sweet Potatoes at Kansas City Community Gardens (KCCG). You’ll also find KCCG videos on planting and harvesting many spring and fall vegetables and a wide selection of other gardening resources.

 

Photo: Julie Koppen, Greenability publisher, harvested 35 pounds of organic sweet potatoes from her small, urban garden.