Monday, July 13, 2009
Detailed Potato Post
The third in a series of detailed single vegetable posts...
Back in the dark days of winter we ordered 25 Red Norland potato sets from RH Shumway. They came in the mail around March 7th and I got them in the ground on March 14th. My first harvest was a stolen potato around June 15th. Final harvest was July 13th. So I can plan on approx 3 months from planting to first harvest and 4 months to last harvest. Judging by my early planting date - a few hard frosts don't hurt this veggie one bit.
In total we harvested approx 30 pounds of potatos. I am guessing we netted about 210 spuds of various sizes. Each plant gave us approx 1.2 lbs and 8 spuds. If we would have bought 30 pounds of potatos at Giant Eagle we would have spent $40. I think I spent approx $7 for the starters - not sure - I'll confirm later.
The soil that I planted my potatos in had grown green manure the previous fall and tomatoes and corn the previous summer. I had conditioned it with compost, lime, and bone meal prior to planting. I later read not to use lime where I plant potatos. I can't remember why - but I goofed on that. Our crop was so successful that I can't imagine the lime I added really hurt it too much. This soil was among our best plots in the sun garden because it had been planted several times the previous year and conditioned with compost each time.
I have absolutely not one single complaint about this vegetable's behavior in the garden. It is fun to plant, requires little maintenance, and has very attractive foilage. The only maintenance I did was periodic "hilling up", which is both easy and fun. Another great trait about potatos is that it is very apparent when it is time to harvest the spuds because the plants fall over and basically turn to dust. Harvesting the potatoes is the best part. Stick your pitchfork in the soil, lever it up, and out with the soil come little red spuds of various sizes. Arden and I enjoyed guessing whether and how many spuds would surface with each forkful of dirt I turned. You can eat any sized red potato - even the teeny tiniest taste just fine.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the harvest was so early. I guess I expected to harvest them in September. An early July harvest means that I was able to use this plot for a second crop. This makes a planting of potatoes all that much more attractive for the garden because you get two full crops in just one bed.
We are still brainstorming various ways to preserve our potatoe harvest. So far we have made a couple big batches of potato salad, and soups. We made a Hungarian green bean and potato soup that is just out of this world. It is the perfect mid July recipe because beans and potatoes are in full force right now. I am guessing that toward mid week we will be tired of eating our potato harvest in such quantity and will slice them up and freeze them for use in winter recipes.
My only thought for next year may be to add a second variety - perhaps a later variety that will store well in a root cellar. Not many other garden veggies will yield such a large quantity of food like potatos. Taking a little more space for potatos is definately worth the investment in land.