End of Season Review - Potatoes
Potatoes were the most "experimental" new veg I grew this past season as they're culture is so different from any other.
|Yukon Gold & Roko Potatoes|
There is one grower in Alberta, Eagle Creek, that has a particularly big selection of seed potato. I purchased 4 different varieties from them: Roko, Linzer Delikatess, Bintje and Caribe. When I received my order, I was pretty surprised at how tiny the seed potatoes were:
|Most were smaller than an egg|
& their average weight was 42 grams (1.5 oz) each
|Canadian Tire Display|
I didn't need more than one bag as they were quite large at 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs) each, but I decided to purchase 2 different varieties anyhow - Yukon Gold and Viking. As they had been sitting around in the store for some time and then they had to hang out in my cold cellar even longer as I finished up the bed, many of the potatoes developed sprouts that were several inches long.
|Sprouting Yukon Gold Potatoes|
Because of a delay in building the bed, the potatoes went into the ground 3 weeks late. Well, that’s 3 weeks later than what was noted in my calendar – since I’ve not grown them before, this was an estimated date. As with most new crops, it will likely take a year or two to figure out the best planting date for my area.
I harvested several test potatoes on Sep. 23 and then the rest were dug up on October 1st.
A few potatoes did sustain some critter damage - I’m thinking it may have been a vole - but thankfully the vast majority were perfect.
|Great way to quickly deal with damaged potatoes|
but only in the short term (2 week storage potential max)
|A bowlful of goodness - Linzer Delikatess|
|From the left:|
Linzer Delikatess, Viking, Bintje, Roko, Yukon Gold, Caribe
As for storage, the potatoes have been kept in cardboard boxes in the cold cellar using 2 methods – some I packed with shredded paper while others were simply placed in a single layer in shallow boxes without a lid. The difference in methods was more to do with running out of shredded paper and not having the time to pack them than anything else.
Considering our very mild weather up until the beginning of January, which resulted in 2-3 months of above normal temps in the cold cellar, I’m very happy with how well the potatoes have stored - not one has gone to waste yet. Some, specifically those that are stored in open boxes, have started to sprout a bit, so I’ve been using those up first. The ones that received the shredded paper treatment seem to be ok so far.
I also attempted to grow sweet potatoes this year. I didn’t have any space in the beds so I used a large, metal bin.
|Sweet potato plants on Sep. 13|
My harvest in October was not what you would call impressive – 748 grams (1.65 lbs) from 4 slips & the largest potato weighed in at 164 grams (5.8 oz).
|Sweet Potato Harvest|
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
Potatoes were another of those crops where the first bite was a revelation. I had heard others extoll the virtues of homegrown potatoes, but found it hard to believe that they would taste that much different from those on the grocery shelves. Well, I stand corrected!
The potatoes also seem to have stored much better than I anticipated and I’m thinking during a “normal” winter when our cold cellar gets down to temp in November, they’ll definitely do fine until the following spring. Now whether I can make it so that we don’t have to purchase potatoes any more has yet to be seen. That’s definitely something I’ll be working towards.
I will be growing all of the same varieties again this year. I set aside seed potato from each variety last year and am hoping to use that as my stock. I placed the “seed” in small boxes lined with shredded paper and left the tops partially open to promote some air circulation. I haven’t examined my seed potatoes thoroughly yet, beyond a couple of random checks of a few that were near the top of the box. It won’t be too much longer until I bring them out into the light to get the chitting process started. Hopefully I’ll find nice, firm potatoes when I push back the shredded paper & not mush!
As for the sweet potatoes, I set some aside and placed them in a paper bag in the regular part of the basement. So far so good – they are still hard as a rock. I’m actually planning on giving them an earlier start this year - I'll be placing them in water within the next few days
I’ll not be using the metal bin this year as it was commandeered for the mint last fall. But I still don’t have any bed space for them, so I’m going to try growing them in another container – a tomato grow bag. I picked one up last year, specifically with sweet potatoes in mind. I’ll have to be much more conscientious about watering as well – last year’s crop definitely suffered on that score.
We always grow several varieties of potatoes. That way if one doesn't like the prevailing conditions one year some other one will. This year we will be trying some that are new to us too. We store our potatoes in cardboard boxes stacked in the garage.ReplyDelete
That's my general feeling with most veg - variety is always a good thing, especially for the reason you stated. It would be nice if we could store some of our stuff in the garage, but even though it's insulated, it does freeze in there with the garage door being opened and closed all the time. I'm quite happy with how long the potatoes stored in their open box in the cold cellar - it's a good test to see if the added effort of packing them in shredded paper is worth it.Delete
Potatoes are the one thing I like to grow a lot of---we use them almost daily throughout the winter. I'm down to my last milk crate --and I've kept up with checking them weekly and using sprouted ones right away.ReplyDelete
So glad for the info on the different varieties you've grown. Interesting to see what kind of potato is good for different types of dinners.
I've not heard of the Linzer variety. I must start a search....
Have a terrific week, Margaret
In the last few months, I think we have used more potatoes than we normally would because they are our own and so good!Delete
I quickly learned that I had to distinguish between the varieties when I was cooking. One time I took a couple of different ones and boiled them...when I went to check on them, one had completely disappeared! It took me a few seconds to realize that it had totally disintegrated in the water.
Hope you are enjoying your break...it won't be too much longer now until we are in full on gardening mode!
Those Linzer potatoes are truly beautiful! And I would faint if I found 7 varieties of seed potatoes anywhere around here. I am lucky to find 4 in a garden store, and no one seems to stock any fingerling types.ReplyDelete
I was pretty blown away by the selection too. Had I known they stocked that much, I may not even have ordered from Eagle Creek. Glad I did though - the Linzer potatoes were well worth it!Delete
Fantastic! We get loads of potatoes and sweet potatoes from our organic food share. It's a local grower, so they're produce is fresh-picked, too. And I agree, fresh potatoes are the best. Have you ever tried making sweet potato fries? This recipe is very good: http://bit.ly/1VPHNoa. :)ReplyDelete
Well, you were more enlightened then I was. I had never purchased potatoes from the market, so you can imagine my surprise when I tasted that first one!Delete
I've made sweet potato fries but there were a few tips in that recipe that I think would make them better (like spacing them out a bit more and a higher oven temp). Thanks for the link!
The first potato harvest of the year is one of the things I really look forward to, just a simple thing like the humble spud boiled and drizzled with a bit of butter has got to be one of the best tasting things ever.ReplyDelete
Very true - all of the potatoes are wonderful, but those Linzer potatoes - boy, they were gobbled up in no time. I'm so looking forward to this years harvest.Delete
We are lucky over here in the UK, because it is easy to get hold of lots of different varieties of potato. I generally grow six or seven different types each year. You probably know that I grow them in big pots, and this method seems to work well for me, and I get some very respectable yields. There are fewer things nicer than a home-grown potato, fresh from the soil!ReplyDelete
Those potato days you have are just incredible. Browsing amongst the aisles would be such fun as would picking out which of the many varieties to bring home.Delete
I tossed around the idea of trying some potatoes in pots last year when I had so many left over from the Canadian Tire purchase, but realized that my time in the garden was stretched too thin already. Perhaps I'll give it a go this year.
It is so awesome that you got to try really great tasting potatoes! Wish others would believe that home grown and freshly picked taste much different from anything in the store. My favorite is German Butterball and Belgium Fingerlings.ReplyDelete
There is such a difference isn't there? Once I get a bit more comfortable with technique, I'm sure I'll be trying many more varieties - I've made a note of your favourites so that I don't forget :)Delete
You may wish to try your local health food store for other variety of potatoes. I grow potatoes in large containers with good results and my daughter did exceptionally well growing sweet potato in a large container.ReplyDelete
I remember your daughter's haul of sweet potatoes - it was so impressive that I bookmarked it for later reference!Delete
Your potato harvests look amazing. Don't you love hitting on a variety that surpasses all others in terms of flavor.ReplyDelete
I've never been able to get a single regular potato in Kentucky, although the above ground plants looked amazing. Our springs are way too wet and we can't get them in the ground early enough. I'm going to try growing them in containers this year.
Yup - LOVE it! The same thing happened with the kohlrabi - the first variety I grew (and first time I tasted it) it was meh...a bit too cabbagy for my taste. But then I tried Kolibri and WOW - our family is hooked!Delete
I hope that you are successful growing potatoes in containers - it seems to be the way to go in the UK & I've thought that I may even give it a go as I only have one bed for potatoes & we could certainly do with more of those Linzers!
Yep, potatoes homegrown are the BEST! I'm so glad they worked well for you. For the 2015 crop, I had enough of my own potatoes to use as seed but I did not have a great crop and have only a couple left now. Although I usually get the regular varieties available at Canadian Tire or TSC, those Linzer potatoes look wonderful and I might have to give them a try.ReplyDelete
Had I realized how good homegrown potatoes were, I would have tried them long ago! The Linzers are well worth the effort of getting - I just hope that they survive until planting time in their little shredded paper nest.Delete
I am not the best potato grower and I like to grow Yukon Gold. I just have about a 4x4 ft. for them but we enjoy what I do grow. I wonder if I could try a sweet potato in a pot this year! NancyReplyDelete
I would say go for it Nancy! Daphne had wonderful luck doing that with a planter by her front entrance and I have a feeling you would be a much more conscientious waterer than I was.Delete