I harvested the first crop of the seed potatoes the other day that I ordered online last fall. It’s hard to tell the scale by looking at this picture, but it’s a picture of little potatoes, making up a pile about the size of a dinner plate. I emptied this potato tub because all the greenery had died back, and was disappointed to find a very small crop, smaller, pound for pound, than the original seed potatoes I planted. This variety is called La Ratte and they are, or should I say were, fingerling potatoes. This batch was, for the time and space allotted, a pitifully small crop. I wonder where I went wrong with this batch. Not enough water, wrong planting time? Who knows? Disappointing, because my last crop of regular red potatoes I bought at the store gave me a great crop.
All was not lost, though. I roasted the potatoes with chopped-up fennel bulb (also from the garden) and it was a delicious treat with the fish we had for dinner!
I woke up this morning and decided it was time to harvest a potato bin.
Bonanza! A nice harvest for dinner tonight!
This batch was from a bag of potatoes I found with lots of eyes already sprouted and took about five months to harvest, but so easy to grow! I still have other bins growing with different varieties: Fingerlings, German butterballs, Yukon Gold, and a Red, Yellow, Blue Potatoes. Can’t wait!
What is a bulb? Never gave it much thought until the subject came up in Flower Show Judge school.
1. True Bulbs – The true bulb has five major parts. It contains the basal plate (bottom of bulb from which roots grow), fleshy scales (primary storage tissue), tunic (skin-like covering that protects the fleshy scales), the shoot (consisting of developing flower and leaf buds), and lateral buds (develop into bulblets or offsets). There are two different kinds of true bulbs:
– Tunicate: bulbs shred or peel off layers (tunicate layers) – daffodils, onions
– Scaly: individual toes that sprout and can be planted individually – garlic is a great example of this.
2. Stem Tuber – made up of nodes and internodes, does not have a basal plate and does not have a protective tunic covereing. Buds appear all over the surface of a tuber, then develop into stems and roots. Irish potatoes are a perfect example of this, as are anemones and oxalis.
3. Tuberous Roots – actually store nutrients in their roots instead of enlarged stem. Buds develop at the top of the root. Examples of tuberous roots include sweet potato and dahlias.
4. Rhizome – grows horizontally under ground. Lots of grasses develop this way, as well as iris. Rhizomes are infamous for being invasive and spreading like wildfire.
5. Corm – is a compressed bulb, very similar to true bulbs in that they have a basal plate and a protective tunic skin, but the major difference is that there are no visible storage rings if you cut it in half. Examples are watsonia and gladiolus.
Alright, now plant those summer bulbs!
So, the potatoes I ordered finally arrived. I’m not sure what I was expecting but they look like….well, potatoes. It was a little anticlimatic when I opened the box, because I spent about $35.00 for this little pile, which I was happy to do, but I think I’m just having a problem with having spent $35 on potatoes that look just like what I can buy at the grocery for a fraction of the cost. Having said that, I know that these potatoes, known as seed potatoes, are much less likely to be problematic because they are typically grown in a controlled environment, keeping them disease free.
Don't cook these for dinner!
I’ll give these little, expensive, starchy jewels a shot to see how they perform, but I’m curious to see how these and my supermarket crop will compare.
Here is some other useful info that came with my seed potatoes:
* Sprouting your seeds is called “greening” or “chitting.” Potatoes don’t have to be sprouting to be planted, but it does speed up the growing process and you tend to get a higher yield.
* During warmer weather, you can sprout your potatoes by spreading them out in moderate light and mild temps (60-70 degrees) for a couple of weeks to induce sprouting.
* During colder weather (now) you can sprout potatoes by placing them in a paper bag in a warm room (70 degrees) with apples, bananas or onions, which give off ethylene gas. This induces sprouting.
* If you don’t want to plant right away, put your potatoes in a paper bag and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks, then follow the chitting directions for warmer weather above.
* Expect your crop to be ready in about 50-60 days, maybe a little longer in cooler weather.
* Subsequent tubers from your original seed potatoes can develop disease, especially if you are reusing your soil so good practice is, if you are growing in containers, to replace the soil you grow your potatoes in after each planting. If you are planting in the ground, then rotate your potatoes out for 3 years. I don’t know about you, but crop rotation is a bit tricky in my smallish yard so I’ll stick to container potato growing.
Here is an informative video from You-Tube if you’ve got 9+ minutes to kill. (It’s amazing what I find when I do a search on Google!!!)
Okay, enough with the potatoes today. More to come when I plant. In the meantime, “chitting” is in order….
I have been waiting for the sack of little red potatoes I put outside in a protected shady spot to sprout. I put them out almost two months ago and unlike the potatoes in my cupboard, this batch didn’t sprout right away. Go figure. Anyway, they finally sprouted so it was time to plant.
Spuds a sproutin'
I used a good combination of compost and a little shredded paper. I planted the potatoes whole instead of cut into pieces based on advice from my farmers market friend. She suggested that I plant them whole to give them a better store of nutrients to draw from since we are going into the cooler season and shorter days . When the weather warms up next spring then I can go back to using pieces of potato.
Tub of spuds
I covered the potatoes with about an inch of soil to start. As they grow, I will keep adding soil to keep the stems covered to promote more tuber (potato) growth. Will we have potatoes for St Paddy’s day? We’ll see….
I want to try some other kinds of potatoes and a friend wants to have a batch going as well so I just ordered some seed potatoes from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply. All the potatoes I ordered are organic, which wasn’t a priority for me but is a bonus, and I had to order a minimum of 5 pounds so I mixed and matched my order: Yukon Gold; German Butterball (I thought they were referring to me!); La Ratte Fingerlings (seemed appropriate given my recent problems with vermin); Red,Yellow & Blue Mix; and Russian Banana Fingerlings. Starch monsters all, but YUM!
All hail the mighty potato! I had my first crop of potatoes (July 17 post) and it’s time to plant more so why not on National Potato Day.
What is National Potato Day, you ask? I went to Google to see what I could find but didn’t find an answer to that question. What I did find was the official website for the United Nations International Year of the Potato, which they celebrated in 2008. Full of all sorts of interesting facts and worth a look if you are so inclined.
Interesting tidbit – Potatoes aren’t roots. They are actually stems (tubers) that swell underground storing nutrients for the plant above ground. In addition to the tubers you will find actual roots under ground as well. The plants will grow and flower during the growing process, but once the flowers bloom and the plant dies back it is time to harvest your potatoes. Oh, and don’t plant your potatoes in the same place for at least three years because of disease and soil depletion. I’m growing mine in tubs so I just dump the dirt in my compost and start fresh.