Spring Potato Harvest

Last year it happened by accident.

This year I did it on purpose.

I left some of our potato crop in the ground over the winter under heavy mulch.

Some of the potatoes  turned to mush and some of them were of awesome quality.

Firm, hard white flesh….and delicious.

Compared to the potatoes still in the potato bin in the basement…well  there was no comparison 😉


I’ve been playing around with the heavy mulch gardening model the past 3 years (Ruth Stout’s claim to fame).

Today I  scraped off the mulch  on both garden beds. The soil under the mulch is still frozen solid while the rest of the ground seems to be pretty much thawed. Mulch not only suppresses  weeds it also acts as an insulator and would have kept the ground frozen a lot longer.


spring potatoes (1)

Over wintered potatoes in Iowa soil under heavy mulch.

Just curious if any of you have ever tried (or heard) of doing this before?     (over wintering root crops until spring)

In the pioneer days, I know the settlers would bury apples,  and other crops in earthen pits.    The soil temperature below the frost line remains a constant 55 to 57 degrees which is warmer than a refrigerator but lower than a warm house.

This is a little different process because I know the potatoes in the garden froze, in spite of the mulch…they were not 3 feet down below the frost line.


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6 Responses to Spring Potato Harvest

  1. Wish I could say I had tried this, but still I find your applied physics very interesting. Love the sight of your red skinned potatoes in the ground. When I think of garden fresh vegetables, I usually think of the red, yellow and green variety. Since potatoes keep for a while, I hadn’t thought they too, could really taste fresh. I know. I’m missing something.

  2. shoreacres says:

    My grandparents never left potatoes in the ground, but they did have a root cellar where canned goods, potatoes, onions and such were kept over the winter.

    The “cave” looked like a little mountain. It was dug down maybe eight or ten feet, and then dirt piled on top. There were two canted ground-level doors that opened up, and then there were a few steps going down. We used it as a storm cellar, too.

    Thinking about it now, it couldn’t have frozen in there, because it if had, all of those glass jars of peaches, beans and such would have cracked. There was a single light bulb with a pull cord, but whether they left that burning, I don’t know. I don’t remember ever turning it on when I was sent out to get something, but I don’t remember it being on, either. Maybe it was just there in case of storm, so we didn’t have to sit it out in the dark.

    • DM says:

      Did these grandparents live in Iowa or elsewhere? Something about those dirt root cellars make me think of snakes 😉 (as in snakes burrowing in from the outside cold and finding a nice cool fruit cellar) I’d definitely leave the light on 🙂 DM

  3. I’ve only “accidently” overwintered potatoes in the ground – every year I have potatoes popping up from the previous year. We don’t get the hard freezes you do – but usually our soils are so saturated I would expect the potatoes to turn to mush. Since these have been popping up in raised beds, perhaps that is what has mine from mushing up.
    Anyhow – beautiful looking potatoes! and all the more impressive that they survived a freeze and still look that good!

  4. Bill says:

    We overwinter onions and garlic that we plant in the fall. This year we overwintered some turnips and they look fine. I’ve found potatoes that we missed when harvesting the previous year but I’ve never tried to eat them. Yours look great.

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