Thursday, April 26, 2018

Getting Things Done...and Potatoes are In!


The weather has finally improved and I'm now in full catch-up mode.  Not surprisingly, I'm already a bit achy from the past couple of days of bed prep and seeding.  But it's a good kind of ache, so I'm not complaining 😁

At this point, the peas, turnips and beets are in.  Say what???  Did I just say beets?  If you've hung around my blog for a while, you know that I am a self-proclaimed beet hater - or, since I prefer not using the word hate when it comes to vegetables, let's just say that I dislike them.  A lot.

So being a beet "disliker", why do I have them in my garden this year?  Well, because I received a few packets of beet seeds from Botanical Interests, of course!  Can't resist free seeds, even if they are for beets.  It's also Year of the Beet so I consider it perfect timing for giving beets a chance to win me over.

They look so pretty - I really hope my taste buds agree

The only beets I've tasted up to now are the typical red beets and, just like most other veg, beet flavour varies depending on the variety (or so I've been told). My beet experiment makes me think back to my first experience with kohlrabi.  I grew White Vienna & wasn't overly impressed as I found the flavour too strong & "cabbagey".  Then I tried a couple of other varieties, Kolibri and Kossak, and WOW!  Kohlrabi became a new favourite in our house, even with the kids (!!), which goes to show that the variety you choose can indeed have a "make-it-or-break-it" impact on how much you enjoy a particular veg.  Since none of the beets I'm growing are the standard red type, there is the real possibility that I will actually end up liking them.  Maybe.

Yesterday, I also got around to planting the seed potatoes.

It was raining at this point, but hey...you gotta do what you gotta do

I haven't really spoken about last years harvest of potatoes yet, so let me sum it up in a nutshell (or is that a potato skin?):  Lackluster.

The harvest increased a lot from the prior year (52 lbs vs 30 lbs) but yield from the "proper" potato bed (33 lbs) was only slightly up since 19 lbs of the total harvest came from some unexpected volunteer potato plants in another bed - lucky for us!

Bulk of the Potato Harvest

Last season, the potato plants were attacked early on by potato beetles (a first for us), although they pretty much disappeared after a bit of hand picking.  Some of the tubers were also damaged - best guess here is slugs which were everywhere last year, even on the tomatoes & carrots.

Thankfully, only a small percentage of the potatoes sustained damage

Onward to a better season in 2018.  I'm growing 5 varieties this year, 3 of which are from last years harvest:

Yukon Gold, Roko and Bintje seed potatoes

The potatoes kept incredibly well over the winter - there was minimal sprouting and we are just now finishing up the last of them:

A gorgeous Roko potato, almost 7 months after harvest!

Even though I had enough of my own seed potato to fill the bed, I couldn't resist purchasing a couple of other varieties when I was at a nursery recently:  Caribe (which I have grown before) and a new-to-me variety, French Fingerling.

Seed Potato Purchase

The French Fingerling potatoes (which are considered "premium" and in a much smaller bag for almost the same price) looked good but the Caribe, not so much.  Many of the potatoes had rotten spots that I had to cut off, with some being rotten all the way through.  And when I say many, the 2 kg bag was reduced by almost 50% to just over 1,100 grams once I was done trimming.  I'm not worried about disease as these are certified seed potatoes but it's obvious that they were either damaged during harvest or not stored properly at some point.

I don't have an extra potato bed so I've decided to try growing the extras in containers.  I figure that I will harvest the bed potatoes in the fall for storage, while the container grown taters will be harvested as new potatoes over the summer.  That's the plan, anyhow.

I could only access one tub (the garage has not had its spring de-cluttering yet) so I had to improvised & decided to do some upcycling and use manure and peat moss bags:

Potatoes in various containers

Since some of the bags have a black lining (and potatoes do not like it hot), I've placed those behind the lighter coloured bags so that, hopefully, they have a bit of insulation from the heat.  Once summer arrives, I'll pile up straw around all the bags to keep things darker and cooler.

Next week, I am off to the 10th Annual Garden Bloggers Fling being held in Austin, Texas.  I'm uber excited because (1) I'll once again be spending time with so many wonderful blogging friends from all over North America and the UK and (2) I've never been to Texas!

It's full steam ahead trying to get things done before I leave, both in the garden (there are 3 trays of seedlings that need to get in the ground) and out of it (those tax returns aren't going to complete themselves).  And, as much as I'm looking forward to going to the Fling, I'm also looking forward to coming back as I have a feeling that, with warmer weather finally upon us, the garden will be bursting with new growth - what a welcome sight it will be after such a cold, miserable start to the season.

See you when I get back 😎

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

32 comments:

  1. I can only imagine how busy you are at the moment, it's such a busy time of year anyway for a gardener but add catch up because of the weather and preparing for a trip away, I bet you don't have time for anything else at present. I love beetroot, have you tried it roasted? Add a little goats cheese, a delicious combination. I'm a big fan of growing potatoes in containers or bags, mine have always come out clean and without any damage and the yields have been good too. Have a great time at the fling, I look forward to hearing all about it.

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    1. It's definitely been crazy busy - but regardless of whether I'm able to get everything done that I had planned, once I'm on that plane I leave all my worries behind and it's all about relaxing and enjoying. I have tried roasted beets but still can't get into it - perhaps with the goat cheese and a VERY tart dressing to counterbalance the earthiness? Now you have me thinking ;)

      Growing potatoes in containers has always intrigued me but I've been hesitant as pots heat up a lot more than the ground and apparently potatoes like it on the cooler side. But, as with most things in gardening, it always pays to try as you just never know.

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  2. It's interesting you are trying beets this year, because I'm another 'disliker' that is trying them too! Like you I am hoping that different varieties will prove to be better tasting than the standard red ones I have eaten in the past. And those overwintered potatoes look amazing! Mine always sprout way too soon in storage.

    I hope you have a great time at the Fling! Austin sounds like a neat place to visit on a number of counts.

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    1. Ha! Great minds, right? Beets are a strange thing - much like cilantro, people seem to have rather strong opinions about them, either loving them or hating them. Wouldn't it be something if the Year of the Beet actually converted some of us dislikers into fans?

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    2. Have you tried the 2015 AAS Winner Beet Avalanche - For any non-beet-lovers, this might just be the variety to change your mind! At least that’s what happened with one AAS Judge who previously, pretty much-despised beets. Now he states, “This beet has made me a believer!” Avalanche exhibits a mild, sweet taste with a uniform root shape and no reddish tinge, making for more attractive produce. Worse comes to worse, the leaves are tasty :-)

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    3. Thanks for the recommendation - I'll definitely have to give those a try!

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  3. You are incredible, Margaret! Your garden is so productive--all those potatoes, even in an "off" year. Regarding beets, I'm not a fan either. But I think it was Donna who said the golden beets are better: I agree, I almost like them. We get beets from our CSA and I make beet chips from them. I'll try to find the recipe--they're quite good; not so mushy and slimy as they're usually prepared. Looking forward to seeing you and the clan next week! (BTW, I love your new blog header!)

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    1. Thanks Beth! I like how you said that you "almost" like them - that made me laugh :) I would definitely like to try that beet chip recipe - much to my detriment, I have yet to find a chip that I don't like, so that is definitely promising.

      I'm really looking forward to seeing you too - seems like only yesterday we were whooping it up in Buffalo :)

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  4. Yay for volunteer potatoes, it looks like you got great yields. I found a purple Japanese sweet potato at a market in Nashville, so I'm going to try to get slips from it. I do like beets but I have a feeling the young ones are even better, hopefully you'll find some you like.

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    1. Ah sweet potatoes - I'm going to give those a try again this year too. Last year the rabbits got to my slips before they even went into the ground!

      I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about the beets - especially now that I've heard about beet chips ;)

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  5. My bet is on the Golden beets, if you don't like those then you are a true beet hater. Actually, I'm growing a new beet this year that claims to "redeem the beet's dirty reputation" because they bred the "polarizing earthiness" out of it. It will be interesting to see how it compares to regular beets. And by the way it's a golden colored beet. It's named Badger Flame if you are interested.

    You must be crazy busy in the garden right now trying to catch up and get away at the same time. Have a ton of fun in Austin.

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    1. Thanks Michelle - got the brassica bed planted up yesterday so I'm making progress :)

      Badger Flame sounds so interesting - both in it's claim and in the name itself! Can't wait to hear your impression on that one. I'm wondering what beet lovers will think of it - it may not end up being "beety" enough ;)

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  6. I cannot find, anywhere on this blog, where you are geographically. Can you add this information to your profile?

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    1. Hi Tracy - I'm in Southern Ontario, Canada. If you look on the top, right hand side of the page where my name is (or at the bottom of the page if you are in mobile view), you'll see a link to "View my complete profile" - all my info, including location, is listed there :)

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  7. Lots of potatoes there. I decided not to grow as many this year as I grow them in containers and need more space around the plot. They were all over the place last year. Hoping for some better weather here soon, really need to get on with sowing seeds.

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    1. We need better weather here too! I am craving consistency when it comes to the temperatures - the last couple of days have once again been chilly and windy.

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  8. I hope you like your beets. My favorite is pickled beets. I am trying to grow just a few to use for the greens. I wish I could grow all my potatoes as they are on the dirty dozen list. I am thinking about trying to grow in one 5 gallon pail this year. Have fun at the fling! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy - I have a feeling I'll end up liking the beet greens for sure - and hopefully the bulbs too. I hope you end up trying the container potatoes - we could compare notes!

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  9. We've managed to plant about half of our potatoes but then it rained again and again and the ground is sodden again. Your varieties are ones I haven't come across here.

    Enjoy you fling!

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    1. I say that quite often about the varieties that I see coming out of gardens in the UK - I would love to one day try Pink Fir.

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  10. That's a nice lot of potatoes!
    Home grown vegetables / herbs are so nice to have.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan! Nothing better than veg from the garden :)

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  11. Very impressive, Margaret. I don't grow potatoes, but I do grow beets. I pickle and can a large batch each year to keep my pickled-beet-loving husband happy. I haven't put any vegetables in the garden yet, except for some seeds in the coldframe. Glad to say, it is looking more like spring out there. Happy gardening! P. x

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    1. Thank you Pam :) We have not been having good gardening weather in the past couple of days - cool, windy and rainy - but tomorrow it's looking to once again warm up. There's lots more to do before I leave my garden in the hands of Mother Nature for a week - I'm hoping she is kind to it ;)

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  12. Did your family eat all those potatoes? I guess potatoes are pretty easy to eat. I hope the next harvest is even more successful!!

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    1. Why yes, Jason, we did eat all of them ;) - except for a few tubers that are still in the cold cellar which will likely be gobbled up before I leave on Wednesday.

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  13. Thanks for sharing that 2018 is the Year of the Beet!

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  14. Potatoes are a lot of work. I used to plant them in orange grow bags but with little harvest, I stopped and use the bags for onions now....but I loved even the meager harvest of organic blue potatoes since they are impossible to find in the grocery. I wish you luck and safe travels this week.

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    1. Thanks Donna - wish you were going to be there!

      Potatoes are not fans of the heat so growing them in containers in climates like ours where the summer can get quite hot is iffy. I'm hoping that piling on the straw will keep the bags/pot cooler, resulting in a halfway decent harvest.

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  15. I love beets, but the rabbits seem to have a laser like focus on them, and the seedlings don't last long. Still I'll try again this year. Have you tried grilling them? For me, chard is the worst vegetable, and nothing short of starvation could make me eat that stuff. Good luck with the taters.

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    1. I haven't tried grilling them - but will do! I actually had a salad while I was away with raw shaved striped beets and I actually liked them - there is hope...although from the sounds of it, your chard issue is a hopeless one ;)

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