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 virtually 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!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.