Curing Potatoes

potatoes just dug up

Dig up potatoes when the soil is drier so not much dirt sticks to them.

A friend of mine asked me why a few of her potatoes that she just harvested are soft. I honestly don’t know except that I know we need to ‘cure’ potatoes for about a week before we store them to heal any abrasions, minor cuts and thicken the skins a bit. So here’s how to cure potatoes.

Dig up potatoes in the fall, when the plants are dying, then the tubers will be as big as they will get. When you first dig up your potatoes, don’t wash them right away. Dig up potatoes when the soil is a little drier so not much dirt sticks to them. Discard any bruised, green ones or soft ones. Use up any damaged ones right away. Put them somewhere where it is a little cooler and they get good air circulation out of direct sunlight. I put mine in a basket lined with newspaper (so the dirt doesn’t get everywhere) with the dirt still on them inside my pantry as it is darker in there. If I had a garage, I’d put them in there but I don’t. They just need to be out of direct sunlight. Then after about a week, I take them out and brush off the dirt well with my hand but I still don’t wash them. I wash them as I use them. You want the skins to be dry. I also again look for any soft ones and discard them as they can ruin the rest and I put them back where the sun don’t shine as I don’t want them to turn green. Don’t eat any green ones as the skin has some photo toxins in them from being exposed to too much sunlight. I’ve never gotten sick from eating one as it is mildly toxic but why eat anything that is toxic. That’s the point of organic gardening right? I use to think store bought potatoes tasted the same as home grown potatoes but not so. Nothing better then fresh potatoes. They’re fantastic and not so starchy tasting.

Are you chitting those potatoes?

chitting potatoes_closeup

Are you chitting your potato seeds yet? Careful how you say that! You can get potato seeds at the local nurseries now if you plan to grow them this year. Potato seeds are actually smaller potatoes that you plant. Don’t use grocery store potatoes as most of them have a sprout inhibitor on them to reduce sprouting which is what we want.

chitting potatoes

Chitting is letting your potatoes grow those little ‘eyes’ out. Put them in indirect sunlight. I use egg cartons to hold them so the eyes don’t break off. After they grow ‘eyes’, you should plant them this month-April. Chitting potatoes now will let you harvest them 2-3 week earlier when harvesting them later in the late summer.

This year, I’m growing them in ‘potato bags’ instead of a garden bed. My friend, Janet had fabulous luck with them last year-in fact she got more than I did in a raised bed so I’m trying her way this year besides it opens up another bed for me to grow other veggies in.

For more info on growing and chitting your potatoes, go to my original post ‘Growing and Chitting Potatoes’

Chitting Potatoes

Chitting Potatoes

Chitting Potatoes

Chitting Potatoes in Egg Cartons

Picked up some French Fingerling potatoes last week and am chitting them for the next 1-2 weeks. Chitting potatoes is basically growing out the eyes a little in indirect light, giving them a head start before planting them. I’m using egg cartons to keep them from rolling and breaking the eyes. Also I got the vegetable bed ready, picking a rich, loamy and deep bed (but not the same one as last year) added more manure, dug it in, and dug the trenches 8 inches deep. As soon as they are ready, I will plant them in the bottom of the trench covering them with 3 inches of soil and after the plants are 6″ tall I will start to mound up the dirt around the plants. Last year was my first year growing potatoes and they were fabulous–so much better than store-bought ones.

Review of 2012 vegetables

fall harvest

2012 VEGGIE LIST

Here is my review of what I will and won’t grow again from last year’s vegetables that I tried and why. I will put tomatoes in another list since there are so many of them!

WILL GROW AGAIN
ARUGULA
-Apollo-nice leaf size and flavor

BEANS
-Rattlesnake bean/pole-remarkably flavored pole bean-grows very tall-great for trellises or arbor
-Tarbais bean/pole-dry bean-after much work FINDING IT last year in the states, you can now get this wonderful bean from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. I will make a french dish called cassoulet with it.
-Fava Bean/bush-wonderful flavor and 2 crops last year. A little work shelling it twice but worth it. Also is a good cover crop replenishing the soil with nitrogen.
-Golden Scarlet Runner/pole-I grow runners for their flowers/foliage-the foliage on this one is a striking chartreuse color against the scarlet flowers-simply beautiful

BEETS
– Craupadine-BEST tasting (but ugly) beet around
-Cylindra-long cylinder shape, great taste, easy cutting into slices

BOK CHOY
-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-wonderful flavor-I like to cut one in half, saute it in olive oil, and add tamari when you flip it

CARROTS
-Atomic Red-great color and flavor
-Cosmic Purple-one of my favorites

CHARD
-Bright Lights-adds great color tucked into the garden and good flavor
-Argentata-thick juicy stalks with huge leaves-very cold tolerant
-Ruby Red-one of the prettiest and tasty chards out there

CUCUMBERS
-Parisian Pickling-used for making cornichon pickles
-Boothsby Blonde-used for making bread and butter pickles
-Poona Kheera-best flavor for eating
-Armenian– fun to grow, good flavor, few seeds

EGGPLANT
-Fairy Tale-sweet, no bitter taste and tender (not tough) skin

LETTUCES
–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce

PEAS
-Dwarf Sugar Gray-great in salads or steamed, grows about 3 ft tall

PEPPER–want to try some different varieties from Europe this year as well
-Shishito (Japanese non-hot pepper)-one of my favorites
-Poblanos-mildly hot (I call it warm), great for chile rellanos or scrambled eggs, wonderful smoky flavor

POTATOES–first year grower and I’m hooked!
-French Fingerling-OMG, the best flavor!
-Peruvian Purple-I loved the flavor of these as well

SPINACH
-Bloomsdale and Tyee

SUMMER SQUASH
ZUCCHINI
-Costata Romanesco-best tasting zuke around

SUNFLOWERS-technically a flower but they are veggies for the birds!
-will grow another huge patch of different varieties-beautiful and the birds love them
-Russian Mammoth AND Titan– for us/birds to eat
-Black Oil-for the birds only

TOMATILLO-Green-good for tomatillo salsa-only need one plant as they are so prolific.

WON’T GROW AGAIN
BEAN-Emerite bean/pole bean- great flavor but didn’t grow high enough to cover my teepee and I will grow others this year.

CARROTS
-Paris Market-too small, bland flavor, not impressed

CALABICITAS SQUASH
-seed from local grower-turns out it was a native winter squash, not calabacitas squash.

CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

FENNEL/FINOCCHIO
-Di Firenze-might grow one or two but not 25 plants like last year!

PEPPER
-Jalapeno-I don’t use them enough to call for space in the garden. I’ll just buy the few I use throughout the year.

POTATOES
-Russian Banana-too crunchy and watery

Potatoes harvested! Garden asleep!

Potatoes dug out just in the nick of time!

Potatoes dug out just in the nick of time!

Well all my potatoes were harvested before the first snow fall last week. Lava, Adam, Janet, Bob and Mernie all helped dig them out (and of course they all got some too). Thanks to all! I have about a half a bushel left of potatoes after we dug them out. I’m going to try a buttermilk potato leek soup with some of them and will share the recipe later.

From left-Peruvian Purple, French Fingerling and Russian Banana

From left-Peruvian Purple, French Fingerling and Russian Banana

I only grew gourmet fingerlings for my first try at growing potatoes this year. Here are the three kinds of fingerlings I grew-Peruvian Purples, French Fingerlings and Russian Bananas (I think). I loved the Peruvian purples but they  were small and I didn’t get many of them. I also loved the French Fingerling which are the red ones and the whitish ones are Russian Banana fingerlings. Both the Peruvian purples and the French Fingerlings have a wonderful flavor-kind of  a sweet, nutty potato flavor and are creamy in texture. I will definitely grow them again. The Russian Bananas were watery, not sweet, and when never got completely soft when cooked-they stayed crunchy. I won’t be growing these again. Plus I think I will try to grow a little bigger purple potato as the Peruvians were very small. You can check out hundreds of varieties at Irish Eyes Garden Seeds where I got mine online. They have a great choice of potatoes. I will definitely grow potatoes again.

Garden finally asleep!

Garden finally asleep!

Lava helped me unload 2000 lbs of manure in the garden and Beto and Beto Jr. came by and dug in the manure in each bed and finished cleaning up the main garden and pumpkin patch.  Nice to get it all done before winter really hit. So now the veggie gardens are sleeping!

Potato update!

First thing in the morning with a cup of coffee looking over the potatoes-time to WAKE UP!

My potatoes are growing so fast that I can’t keep up on burying them. Besides that, I don’t have enough dirt to bury them either as some of them are already 4 feet tall. I wonder how farmer’s grow potatoes in fields? I mean who has soil three feet deep to bury them?

Potatoes are corralled, straw put around potatoes and cardboard put on inside edges to keep light out

I built a temporary corral around the potato patch with small green t-posts and some chicken wire I had laying around.  I then cut some cardboard boxes open and lined the corral with them. Afterwards I got some straw to put inside the corral to cover the potato plants. I put the straw top of the soil which is already 18 inches deep. The corral keeps the straw from blowing away and the potatoes will (hopefully) grow inside the straw where it is dark.

Here are what potato flowers look like. After flowering the plant starts producing potatoes. I can’t wait! My friend Mernie thinks I might get around 150 lbs of potatoes! I might have to go to the Farmer’s Market as the POTATO LADY!

Fingerling Potatoes-May 7

The potatoes I planted Mar. 30 are doing great. Most of them came up with a few exceptions. Not bad for my first try. Of course the proof will be if I get some nice potatoes. Right now they are about 8 inches tall and when they hit 10 inches I will start the hilling process. Basically every ten inches or so I will add soil slowly filling the trench and burying the base of the potato plant I started with. I thought I would use straw for the hilling process but decided to stick with dirt because it is so dry here and I thought the straw would probably blow away anyways. Besides when I dig them out it will be like an Easter egg hunt! Since this is my first year at trying to grow potatoes, I am excited about what might happen.