Friday, December 17, 2010

Potatoes year in review

This is the first year that I made an effort to grow potatoes for the year.  In the past I've planted grocery store potatoes in pots (failure) and 2 years ago there were seed potatoes bought on a whim (failure).  This year I decided to go all out.  The year started with me buying a ridiculous amount of seed potatoes.  When I realized my error, most of them were given away to other gardening friends.  This is what I ended up with.

All seed potatoes were purchased from Fedco's Moose Tubers.  These were the Rio Grande Russets.  We are big russet lovers at our house and I had high hopes for the potatoes.  I planted 5 pounds and got approximately 40 pounds of potatoes when all was said and done.  The groundhogs did a number on them, so I'm sure I would have gotten significantly more otherwise.  The taste was nice, but not spectacular.  They've also been keeping quite nicely in my 50 degree basement.  My biggest issue with this variety was the size of the potatoes.  Most were quite small.  Since we like our russets baked, that poses a bit of a problem.  There were only a handful big enough to bake.  I'll be looking for another variety next year.

Next up were the Yukon Golds.  These are delicious potatoes.  I planted 2.5 pounds and ended up with about 20 pounds at the end of the summer.  They produced nice sized potatoes with a couple real whoppers.  Being an early potato, they aren't keeping as well as I would like.  Many are starting to sprout, so we've been eating them faster than the others.  I will certainly do these again next year.  Despite being the potato with the smallest yield, they are worth it for the taste.  Hopefully I'll be able to get enough to last until seed planting.

All Blues were the next variety I planted.  I planted 2.5 pounds and ended up with 40 pounds of spuds.   That's a pretty amazing yield.  The tubers were a decent size for the most part, but are longer and knobbier than the rest.  I thought the kids would love the blue color, but it freaked my 6 year old out instead.  The flavor is quite earthy and not really what we enjoy.  Since they really need to be peeled in order to make them slightly less earthy, the knobbiness is a bit of an issue.  In the end, they won't be planted again.

Lastly were the Kennebecs.  This is THE Maine potato.  I planted 5 pounds and got over 50 pounds in return.  The size was all over the place, from tiny to huge.  I've never been a huge fan of the waxy, all purpose potato and was prepared to dislike this one.  Instead, it's one of my favorites.  The flavor is wonderful and truly taste the way I want a potato to taste.  It's keeping pretty well in the basement.  A few have started to sprout in a half hearted way, but I think they'll last the winter. 

A few notes on planting and storage.  All of these potatoes were planted on April 21st.  I planted them in beds amended with aged chicken manure and nothing else.  They were planted about 3 inches deep and then hilled once up to a depth of about 8 inches.  All were harvested in September despite many of them dying back significantly earlier.  A few had been snuck out for us to eat throughout the summer.  They are being stored in cardboard boxes in my basement.  The temp is currently 50 degrees with 60 percent humidity right now.   We are loving having all these potatoes for meals. 

11 comments:

Peter said...

I planted four kinds of organic potatoes that I got for free from the store in April- they were starting to sprout. All but one of them grew beautifully, though the heat this summer put a hurt on them and probably lowered the yield. It's magic to dig them, isn't it?

Daphne said...

I love Kennebecs too. They are such tasty potatoes. I hope I can find seed for them around here. I usually just pick up what I can find.

The Mom said...

Peter it is magic to dig them. My kids thought it was a great little treasure hunt.

Daphne, I could have found seed for them around here, but wanted to try some other varieties. Hopefully I won't have to buy seed anymore.

Annie's Granny said...

Potatoes are one of my favorite crops, and Kennebec has to be my favorite variety. I'm also a sucker for red skinned potatoes, but my Norlands didn't perform well this year, so I'll be trying a different one next spring. Our local feed and grain store usually has a nice variety of seeds if I can get back to WA early enough, before they are all picked over.

Karen Anne said...

The potatoes that did best for me by far were the ones I tossed into the compost pile because I'd filled up the garden area allocated for them. Go figure.

Meanwhile, I've noticed the squirrels poking around in the compost pile lately, and I wonder what they're doing? There is nothing in there to eat by now. It's mostly straw-like debris for the top foot. Maybe storing nuts?

The Mom said...

Granny, my local feed store has a pathetic display of potatoes. The one in Plymouth, near my dad is better. I just never seem to make it there.

Karen, my parents accidentally grew some nice potatoes in their compost this year. Those squirrels probably buried something good under your compost.

Robin said...

I love the Yukon Gold! I have never planted the Kennebecs. Since they are great tasting and a good keeper, I think I will try them next year.

The Cranberry Red & Caribe (blue) are also good potatoes.

Thanks for posting your review :)

The Mom said...

Robin, I might try a good red potato next year.

kitsapFG said...

I have three varieties I grow regularly - Russet Burbank, Yukon Gold, and Caribe. Each brings different qualities to the table and storage front but they have proven to be good for our area and our tastes. Potatoes are one of the most rewarding crops I grow in hte garden - producing a lot of good food value in a relatively modest area of garden space.

The Mom said...

Laura, thanks for the input. I'm going to put the russet burbank on my list to check out. I need a good russet.

Leigh said...

Very interesting post Heather. This was my first year to grow potatoes, so I'm taking notes. We only tried Red Pontiacs and timing was the biggest issue for us in regards to storage. I'll do that differently next year. I'll also try some different varieties, so I appreciate your experience!