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Potatoes

April 29, 2012

Credit: Celeste Longacre
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Potatoes are a staple in our home. We don’t eat them every day, but when we do, we love them.

I like to grow Caribes for mashed potatoes and steamed ones. These are purple skinned with a beautiful white interior. Cooked, they are quite fluffy and light. You can’t bake them, though, so for this eating, I like to plant Kennebecs. With a turkey or a chicken or roast beef in the oven, I like to put extra potatoes along the side. These I cut up and fry in good quality (not hydrogenated) lard or coconut oil for breakfast along with my eggs. Goose fat is another delectable way to recook potatoes—this method is prized by the French.

So, after “greening” up my seed potatoes, I get the garden bed ready to receive them. I add all my soil amendments (kelp meal, alfalfa meal, greensand and azomite powder) and sometimes a bit of compost; never manure, though, as potatoes do not like it. Next, I loosen the soil with my broad fork and rake it smooth. Then I go up and down the bed creating two deep valleys in the middle. Eventually, these valleys will become the hills that the potatoes grow in.

Digging down with my spoon, I plant the potatoes as deep as I can. The new potatoes will grow above where you planted the seed ones so you want to get it down as far as possible.

Placing the potato with the most eyes up, I gently cover it with earth. Once the whole bed is planted, I water it even if it is going to rain very soon. This lets the crop’s Devas or Angels know that you plan to take care of it.

As the potatoes emerge, I take the soil from the existing “hills” and rake it next to the plants.

Potatoes like to go into a cold soil, but if a frost threatens once they have emerged, I just cover the plants with the dirt from the sides of the hills. Keep an eye out for the Colorado potato beetle—this insect can destroy your entire crop. Early in the morning, before it gets hot, these insects will fall when disturbed. I fill a large yogurt container half full of water and knock them into it. These I then bring down to the chicken yard and throw them into it. If you don’t have chickens, you can add some soap to the water and let them drown.

Once the plants flower, you can begin to take a few new potatoes by digging in the soil around the plants. I resist doing too much of this as there is usually so much else to eat in the summer and potatoes are such good keepers. I’m still eating last year’s now.

See more on growing potatoes.

The onions that we started indoors are also ready to get planted. I prepare my beds as usual. Then, using a dibble, I create a hole for each onion and plant it. Each onion is its own plant so this is a bit time consuming, but very worth it. See more on growing onions.

     

The garlic we planted in October is up and doing quite well. See more on growing garlic.

And, just because, the magnolia and forsythia were gorgeous this year.


Celeste Longacre has been growing vitually all of her family's vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.

Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer's Almanac as their astrologer.

Her new book about living lightly on the Earth is coming soon!

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Comments

Hello, I have a couple of

By mary fouliard

Hello, I have a couple of questions please. I have a bed about 5*40, two good size rows. It gets direct sunlight from around 1030 until around 230. I live in south Alabama and it gets very hot. Would you think potatoes would do good there? Also, I added about one bag(2cu ft) of soil w/ manure in while tilling, to give the soil just a touch of fertilizer. But I see you recommend not to use it. This was not pure manure and only one mixed bad to a 5*40 plot. Do you think this will be safe for potatoes? I am planting now and trying to find out what would work good there.
I have another garden spot 30*27, absolutely full sun that is planned and ready to plant, actually will be starting on it late today or in the morning. Here is a link to my garden on Pinterest. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/330381322636938094/
Thank you for your advice, Mary

Hi Mary, The garden that is

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Mary,

The garden that is in full Sun should do very well. I'm not sure about the potatoes, though. Potatoes like it cool and they also like a lot of Sun. Check with a local nursery to see if there are any types of potatoes that can handle the heat. Your link to Pinterest didn't come through as a link.

My potatoes are getting too

By Bev Bohlen

My potatoes are getting too tall and no blooms yet. Did you ever hear of cutting the top of the plants off, leaving about 5 in" of green growth to further growth under ground?

Hi Bev, I wouldn't cut your

By Celeste Longacre

Hi Bev,

I wouldn't cut your potatoe plants. It's better to build up the dirt around the plants. I've had some quite good yields even without the plants flowering. It's still quite early in the season. You may see flowers yet.

Any suggestions to keep scab

By BC Gardener

Any suggestions to keep scab from forming on my potatoes? They are still edible, but not too attractive.

Hello BC Gardener, I found

By Celeste Longacre

Hello BC Gardener,
I found that scab formed on my potatoes when I used old manure in their bed. That is the main reason that I never use manure on the potato beds. I haven't had a problem with scab since I stopped adding this element.

Couldn't help but notice the

By DCB in Ga

Couldn't help but notice the solar panel at the end of the potato rows. Do you use it for water or otherwise. Just wondering, always looking for options.

Hello DCB, The solar panels

By Celeste Longacre

Hello DCB,
The solar panels are used for electricity. We are still tied to the grid. When we produce more than we use, if our batteries are full, the extra energy goes into the grid. If the grid goes down, our home is run by the batteries. This transition happens so fast that the clocks don't even blink! I highly recommend it...

What does greening up

By Anon

What does greening up potatoes mean?

Hello Anon, Greening up

By Celeste Longacre

Hello Anon,
Greening up potatoes is a method used to increase yields. You place the potatoes in a light, but NOT sunny, space for 10 to 14 days before planting. This causes them to sprout some small sprouts and, it is said, this can result in more potatoes at harvest.

Burpee's has seed potatoes

By Anonymous12ws

Burpee's has seed potatoes online, or you can find them at Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc in their garden sections early in the year.

Where can you get seed

By DBurgedd

Where can you get seed potatoes?

Hello DBurgedd, Seed potatoes

By Celeste Longacre

Hello DBurgedd,
Seed potatoes can be found in many places. Most seed catalogs have them as well as local garden stores.

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