Now that Spudtember is here, I have a massive supply of fresh potatoes to enjoy and experiment with. So far, so good on my challenge to eat nothin' but spuds for an entire month. If anything, I am still amazed at the hunger-negating effects of potatoes. After a couple days, it's as if your brain starts to take pity on you. Maybe this is an evolutionary defense against going crazy in times of famine? Or is it the gut bugs gift to us?
Anyway...here's some pictures of my potato patch this year:
4/21/2016 - Planted Potatoes. 3 50' rows. One row of Yukon gold, one row of Russet white, and another row planted with half reds and half blues. Yes, I like colorful taters. My seed potatoes are potatoes left over from last year's harvest. I plant them about 12" apart.
First, I till the soil with my trusty rototiller.
Then lay the sprouting seedling potatoes in a shallow trench (Ridging and hilling phase):
May 21st. Several weeks of cold weather then 2 weeks of unseasonably warm weather and rain brought lots of growth to the old potato patch. Using the dirt from between the rows, I rake dirt up on to, and completely burying the new growth. When they are 6" above the new dirt, I will cover again, using dirt from the other side of the row.
Uncovered (Vegetative stage):
Covered (Ridging and hilling):
May 30th: Lots of growth above the mounded dirt, not quite enough to do another hilling.:
June 3rd, third and final hilling. Now they can grow and have lots of space to make big tubers.
Uncovered, showing the growth:
June 3rd, covered potatoes, aka "hilled."
The completed hilling on June 3rd. Quite a bit of work! I only use a hoe, and do it all by hand.
Mid-July, potatoes have really started growing, and are now in their flower-phase.
Mid-August. Flowering-phase complete, time to check for spuds. This is the potato's "bulking phase." Shortly after the flowers have gone, the plants put all of their energy into producing underground potatoes.
Here they are! August Potatoes!
Sept 5th: Here is my potato patch as of today. Producing beautiful tubers.
I get about 5-10 pounds of potatoes from each plant, an amazing return on investment! I started with about 150 seed potatoes, weighing about 25 pounds, and will end up with a total harvest of about 1000 pounds of potatoes.
Here's one plant's potatoes, and they still have a full month of growing season left:
I'll update this post next month, but now I am just eating potatoes straight from the garden. As soon as we have had some killing frosts, I will dig up all of the spuds and "cure" them for storage. This simply entails laying the dirty potatoes on the floor of our garage and blowing air over them with a fan for a couple of days. This hardens the skin and prepares them for their longest phase of life, the "dormant phase." Kept cool and dry, these potatoes will last until Spring planting next year when I start the cycle over again.