The weather has been surprisingly nice this past couple weeks, perhaps we will have an extended summer after all. Our potatoes have been harvested and we are quite content with this year's crop. Diversity in the potato patch, seemingly, once again played an important role. Some of the varieties that did great last year not so much this year and vice versa but in the end we were provided another fine harvest.
A fellow gardener talked about a method of planting potatoes that did not involve any hilling. I happily followed suit, planting our potatoes in a similar manner by digging them in deeply atop loose soil in an effort to avoid having to hill the dirt around them as they grew. While the amount harvested was not dramatically different I did notice that for the first time ever we had absolutely no issues with the scab that so often affects our purples and blues. This was perhaps due to the fact that the potatoes received a more adequate water supply, the rows were not nearly as mounded and less water was wasted due to runoff.
Speaking of scab, because we use our own potatoes for seed I am always on the lookout for any buildup of viruses and diseases related to this endeavour...so far so good and we have been doing this for quite a few years now. I am very careful to rotate our potato crop and only select the very best looking spuds for re-seeding purposes. I would imagine that people of old, from the Indians of South America to the settlers of North America, saved their own seed potatoes in a similar manner.
Actually, besides our russet varieties and Yukon Gold that never do that great (but I like the way they taste) the only potatoes that performed poorly were the two new "purchased" varieties that we tried this season. Red Viking and Shepody were both nice looking potatoes but only provided a few spuds per plant.
The potatoes in boxes will be used to plant next year's crop.
Potatoes are pulled in late September early October before it gets too cold and rainy out. Each row has a stake at the beginning with a bunch of tags attached to it with the varieties labeled in the order planted, this way I can keep track of all the different types. For the most part I know what everything is but I do tend to get the red potatoes mixed up in my head sometimes so the tags are of great benefit. Once dug we separate some of the nicest ones to be used for next year's seed. The rest are laid out on a tarp in the root cellar where they will remain until needed and if I am diligent in keeping any spring sprouts cut back they will remain edible and of good quality for a very long time. Below I have included pictures of a few of the many varieties we grew this year.
Some of the purple Peruvians were quite large this year.
This picture depicts two plants worth of Shepody, nice potatoes but not very numerous.
La Ratte has performed well for us the past two years.
Huckleberry is my wife's favorite potato, they are pink inside.
Russian Banana is one of the first "unusual" varieties I ever grew.
We have been growing this variety and saving seed for so long that I call them Mike's purple just to keep them separated from the other purple varieties I grow.
Anna Cheeka Ozette was originally brought from Peru in the 1700's by Spanish explorers to the Makah Indians at Neah Bay on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, where they still grow them today.
Yellow Finn is a nice producer that we have only been growing for a couple years now, they are yellow inside.
Austrian Crescent is another fine fingerling.
French Fingerling, one of my all around favorites.
"O Creator! Thou who givest life to all things and hast made men that they may live, and multiply. Multiply also the fruits of the earth, the potatoes and other food that thou hast made, that men may not suffer from hunger and misery." - Inca Prayer
the beginning of the end
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