Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Harvest Red Potatoes

red potatoes image by Karin Lau from

Red potatoes are cool-season vegetables. Potatoes are an important diet staple across the world. Potatoes are not roots, but specialized underground storage stems called tubers. Red potatoes prefer good-draining soil that is high in organic content. Potatoes form tubers when temperatures are 60 to 70 degrees F. When the temperature is 80 degrees F and above, tubers do not grow. Red potato plants tolerate light frosts in the spring and fall. Red potato varieties include Norland, Red Pontiac and Viking.

Remove the mulch from around the red potato hills two weeks after the potato vines have faded and dried. This waiting period allows the potato skin to toughen and reduces the chance of rotting in storage.

Pull the vines up and discard. If the vines were infested with potato bugs, then they need burning or discarding.

Cut a circle around the red potato plant 3 feet in diameter with your shovel. Push the shovel blade straight down into the soil.

Push the shovel 8 to 10 inches under the soil and lift everything out of the ground. Flip the dirt over outside of the circle. Continue to dig the soil out of the circle.

Sift through your pile of soil and remove the potatoes. Place them in a box or bag. Push the soil back into the hole.

Lay the red potatoes out on the ground in a shady area. Hose off the dirt and allow the potatoes to dry overnight before retrieving.


Red potatoes are 1 to 2 inches in size by the middle of July. These baby-sized potatoes are dug up before the vines die. Baby red potatoes are used in soup or cut up and roasted. Full-sized red potatoes are ready in August or September. Place them in the garage or basement for several weeks to cure. Store them for the winter in a dark room with cool temperatures between 38 to 40 degrees F.


Green or dark spots on red potatoes develop when the tubers are exposed to the sun. This sunburn develops when the red potatoes are not planted deeply enough or not covered with straw mulch.

Garden Guides