"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Good is a Russet Without a Purple Majesty by it's Side!

I love potatoes, not just any potato...all potatoes and that is why we will be growing twenty five varieties this year. Last year I think we had around twenty and maybe 45 plants. I think that growing ones own food is very important, but just as important is enjoying growing ones own food and variety allows for that.

There are many reasons that I grow a large number of each type of vegetable aside from the enjoyment aspect. It allows me to see which vegetables do best in my garden and in any given condition that may arise, and also provides me with the opportunity to be more self-reliant. More self-reliant in the sense that I am able to save seeds from a much wider selection of crops and will eventually, I hope, be able to rely more upon myself for those seeds and less upon others (seed companies).

Now that I have attempted to justify why anyone in their right mind would possibly choose to grow twenty five different varieties of potatoes, here is what we will be growing for ourselves and our chickens :). Many of these potatoes will be grown from my own seed but I did purchase a few of them.

Purple Majesty - One of our favorites, it is purple inside and out. We are sometimes provided with really large specimens that taste great fried, baked or boiled and are most wonderful tossed hot over a healthy green salad.

Red Lasoda - Red skin and white flesh makes for a great potato salad. We do have a problem with scab on this one in particular...but hey, scab is only skin deep and who will ever know if you mash it.

Yellow Finn - New to us this year, it is supposed to have yellow flesh with a buttery flavor and be a good keeper. A butter like flavor...why is it that every yellow fleshed potato seems to be described that way? I have yet to eat a butter flavored potato, but I am sure this will be the first.

Sangre - The name means "blood" in Spanish, it has a dark red skin with white flesh, nice used as a new potato. We are always stealing this one in July as it seems to come on fairly early and gives us lots of baby potatoes.

Mountain Rose - A sometimes large potato with red skin and pink flesh it makes for a great boiled potato.

Dakota Pearl - We first grew this last year and really liked it. The potato has an almost white skin and flesh, very crisp potato that takes extra time to cook. Small to medium in size all of mine were free of defects such as scab. A fine choice for hash browns.

Huckleberry - Red skin, pink inside (especially once cooked) with some white, very similar to Mountain Rose. My wife is partial to this one and always chooses it to top her salads. Grows really well for us and is named after huckleberries that grow wild here in the northwest.

Gold Rush - We are trying this one for the first time this year. Supposedly a nice baking potato with good flavor it is a cross between a Lemhi Russet and Norgold...supposed to do well in dry climates.

Russet Burbank - Most widely grown potato in the United States. A favorite for baked potatoes especially in Idaho. The chickens love them and they are regularly included in their diet. Ours always turn out short and fat and bear little resemblance to the perfect store bought russets.

All Blue - Medium sized potato with blue/purple skin and a bluish interior. A bit of a mealy potato I have grown to love after becoming accustomed to the texture. Very high yields for us.

Russian Banana - With yellow skin and flesh this potato makes for a great french fry and also seems to grow well in our climate putting out numerous disease free tubers.

Swedish Peanut - Another potato that we are trying for the first time, I hear it has a nutty tasting yellow flesh and should be good in a stir fry as it is supposed to stay firm when cooked.

French Fingerling - A staple in our diet, the french fingerling has red skin and slightly yellow flesh with a red line running through the middle. Another potato that does well fried.

LaRatte - We have yet to try this yellow skinned potato that reportedly has a creamy yellow flesh and somewhat nutty flavor.

Austrian Crescent - With light yellow skin and flesh this potato, along with all of the other fingerlings, is really a treat when steamed and served on it's own.

Anna Cheeka Ozette - A very interesting looking potato with deeply set eyes, yellow skin and flesh. This potato stores and produces very well for us.

Red Thumb - With red skin and flesh we were not able to find this potato last year and are excited to grow it this summer. It is supposed to be very uniform in shape and have a nice texture and flavor.

Adora - Very productive with yellow flesh and round shape. Makes a fine boiled potato, especially when young.

Red Norland - Red skin and almost white flesh, perfect for potato salad. Does seem to have an issue with scab.

Norkotah Russet - Like the Burbank russet, a nice baking potato that produces fairly well...but not great. Some of these get really big.

Yukon Gold - Thin skin and yellow flesh, definitely my favorite baking or boiling potato. Unfortunately it does not produce all that well for us.

Red Pontiac - Large round potato with thin red skin and white flesh this potato is perfect for mashing.

Purple Viking - Purple skin and white flesh, it will be a first for us as well.

Superior - White fleshed potato that is an all around excellent potato and supposed to be good for making chips, although we have never done so.

Purple Peruvian - Our favorite finger potato with purple, almost black skin and a dark purple flesh. Mealy but delicious, they almost grow wild around my garden as they have so many eyes that even the smallest piece left in the ground produces a plant.

Lots of potatoes, yes, but as a staple in our diet and that of our chickens we go through them pretty fast. No matter how many potatoes we grow the best ones are those that end up on a salad at the end of the day.


el said...

Goodness gracious, Mike: when you said "a lot of potatoes" I guess you mean it! (Says she who grows 17-20 different kinds of beans.) The Pontiacs are pretty standard here in all the feed stores in Michigan, that and a variety called Norland. Myself, I grow maybe 5 kinds--well, 10 kinds now :)--and every year I always seem to find more places to put them! But it is worth it. My daughter is sitting next to me here with a fried-up Irish Cobbler that she's dunking into her soft-boiled egg yolk. She's just decided that she likes runny eggs after all because they're good for dipping!

Mr. H said...

Hi El,

That's a lot of beans, I think we grow around 11 different kinds and are trying a few new ones this year. Trying new things is what makes it all so interesting.

I grew Scarelet Emperor and Painted lady beans last year and they far exceeded my every expectation, and will both be permanent members of the garden going forward...a most excellent example of why to try something different.

It's so fun to watch children change their ideas on what they do and don't like. We finally figured out that letting our grandson have a big role in whatever meal we are preparing really helps to encourage him to eat it. No runny eggs for him though, not yet anyway...maybe if he could dip a potato.

Have a most wonderful day,


Chiot's Run said...

WOW, that's so fantastic. I only grew one kind last year. I prefer to use my space for tomatoes (I'm growing 25 different kinds this year). I do want to start growing more potatoes, but that means I need to make more garden space for them.

randi said...

now you've done it..i guess the couple 'ol regulars, (yukon & red norland),I planted last year will require a few new roommates..thanks heaps!

Mr. H said...


Is there ever enough space? It seems like I am forever expanding our garden and potatoes definitely take up a lot of that space.

Twenty five tomatoes, wow, that will be fun for you. If you are ever interested I know someone who is looking for people to perform tomato trials for them, they have hundreds of varieties.

Happy gardening,


Mr. H said...

Hi Randi,

Come on now, there is always room for a few extra potatoes.I do like Yukon Golds, they turn out really nice for us but for some strange reason I never get that many.

I am trying to find one called Vasila that has bright yellow flesh and Caribe that has blue skin and snow white flesh that is upposed to make super fluffy mashed potatoes. So many potatoes so little time and space.

Hope your snow melts faster then ours is.


anne said...

That is a tremendous collection!

Do you have colorado potato beetle there, and if so are there some that have built resistance to it (perhaps evolving a nasty leaf taste for e.g.!)
How about blight resistance?

Mr. H said...

Hi Anne,

We do not have Colorado potato beetle or any other potato issues other than white flies upon occasion and scab...lucky us.

The colored potatoes are my favorites but also the most susceptable to scab. The one potato that seems to be most hardy is Dakota Pearl, they were all perfect last season. Unfortunately last year was the first I grew them so I have a very limited history with them.

I spend a great deal of time making sure nothing grows in the same place twice, perhaps it has helped with some problems such as blight. I grow a large selection but am very small time, I will probably only grow around 65 plants this year. Only enough to feed us and our birds.

Most if not all of our neighbers are to busy spraying chemicals on their weeds to have any kind of garden so that may also play a role in the lack of disease issues in our garden area.


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