Thursday, October 1, 2009
A Spudlicious Endeavor
The potatoes have all been harvested and it didn't even rain! Usually when we harvest root crops around the last week in September and into October the weather is fairly miserable... rainy and cold. This time, for a change, we were able to pull all of the spuds in last weekend's sun, how nice.
This year's crop was not nearly as big or numerous per plant as in previous years due to the unseasonably warm summer and the fact that I used a lot less water...just to see what I could get away with. Fortunately, we planted quite a few more than normal with the hopes of supplementing our chickens winter diet with potatoes as well. So in the end we were lucky enough to get our biggest harvest ever, lots of potatoes just not really big ones.
We chose to grow 25 varieties this year because What Good is a Russet Without a Purple Majesty by it's Side!. I was happy with most of them but a few really underperformed: Red Lasota, Red Pontiac, and Adora. Those three will not be included in next season's garden as a couple are now perennial under achievers. One of my new favorite potatoes that we decided to try this year after reading about it on Throwback at Trapper Creek 's blog post Winter stores update is Viking Purple. All of them performed marvelously producing an abundance of uniformly sized potatoes. I will be growing many more of those along with my other two standouts Anna Cheeka Ozette and Russian Banana next spring.
We left our potatoes in the ground for several weeks to harden off after most of the vines had died back, this helps to thicken the potato skins which in turn increases the length of time potatoes can be stored. As we pulled our four rows the potatoes were placed in buckets to help keep the different varieties separate until I had a chance to go through and select the best looking ones for next year's seed potatoes.
The potatoes were then spread out in the dark of our basement to dry for a couple weeks and will eventually be moved into their permanent winter storage room where they will be sorted out on shelves to be used as needed. Our house was built in the 1930's and the basement has an old well in it providing the perfect combination of cold and humidity, good storage conditions for most root vegetables and tubers. We can easily maintain an average temperature of 35 - 50° in our basement from October through April of each year.
I'm looking forward to enjoying lots of potato and kale soup this winter and perhaps I will even find it in my heart to share a few, not as many as I had originally planned, with the chickens. They like their spuds served steamed and warm with no condiments on frigid winter evenings.:)