What fun we had in the garden yesterday!
The tops of the potatoes had started to die back, which means it is time to harvest. I figured I'd dig enough for dinner last night and save the rest for later, but... I ended up digging up all five rows of potatoes and was amazed at how many we got out of our little ~100 square foot bed. I started picking with a small basket, which filled quickly, then Curtis got me a 1 gallon tote, then we had to grab a 5 gallon bucket and we filled all of them with potatoes.
Back in February and March of this year we planted 2 lb red Lasoda, 2 lb youkon gold, 1 lb kennebec white. I also planted about a pound worth of normal store potatoes (I think they were Russet baking potatoes) which had sprouted in my pantry. I have read many times that these do not produce as well as seed potatoes, but this year, they proved to do very well.
Here is the (almost) final tally:
1.5 lb very small mixed
4.5 lb kennebec white/youkon gold (I'm not sure which is which)
8.25 lb russet
10.5 lb red lasoda
yes that is 35 pounds of potatoes from our tiny little potato patch. Hooray! I call this the 'almost' final tally because there is still one row of Kennebec white growing in the garden. The tops of these plants were still green and lush, and the one plant I dug up on this row had mostly tiny baby potatoes, so I left the rest of the row to grow.
We washed and boiled up the smallest of the potatoes, anything silver dollar sized and smaller was cooked. It totaled up to 1.5 lbs of tiny taters for dinner, but we got to sample some of each variety that way.
We both agreed that the red Lasoda were by far our favorite potato: they have a great tender texture, thin skin and a very nice taste. The Russet potatoes were the second favorite, the flavor was good, but the skin was a little thick and heavy for my taste in boiled potatoes. Considering these are baking potatoes anyway, it is not much of a fair assessment to eat them unpeeled and boiled. Our least favorite was the Youkon Gold, the potatoes themselves were pretty with a nice yellow flesh, the flesh was mealy and the flavor was not special. That being said, all three varieties were worlds better tasting than any potato I have ever bought at the store. I'm not sure we got enough of the Kennebec White to make an accurate assessment on their flavor and texture.
100% Home grown (and butchered) meal
Unfortunately, most of the Russet potatoes had bug holes in them. Some also appear to have been half eaten, then forgotten and the eaten places scabbed over. It may be that these Russet potatoes are not suited for our climate, or are more suscepitlbe to insects. Either way, considering that what I planted was destined for the compost pile originally, even slightly buggy potatoes are a great deal. No bug damage was obvious on the other types which were started from seed potatoes.
We are both so excited about our potato harvest this year. We are already talking about what to do to make it better next year. I think the biggest improvement will be to plant the potatoes much deeper. I have heard that new potatoes will only form between the seed potato and the surface. In other words, the deeper you plant, the more potatoes you harvest. My original plan was to plant shallow and then pile dirt and mulch around the stems to allow them to keep producing. This did not really happen, mostly due to time, but also finding enough dirt and material to rebury the stems was difficult. Since I was 8 months pregnant when we planted these potatoes, I can't fault myself for not planting them deep this time. It was a real challenge to just get the shallow holes dug and covered. Another lesson learned is that crowding onions in between the potato rows did not work. The onions were completely shaded out and did not grow.
Normally, we eat about 5 lbs of potatoes every week. So as exciting as our 35 pound harvest was, it is more of a novelty than a real food source. We are looking at designs that will allow us to grow more potatoes vertically. Our little plot was maxed out with this current harvest.