Time for Potatoes

It’s been drizzling and cold here for the last few days.  But I know that spring is about to spring.  And when it does I’ll be planting potatoes.

What’s left of last years crop is now rubbery and sprouting.  I fried some last night so they’re still edible.  But they’re certainly far from their best.  The demise of last years crop is a good sign that it’s time to get going on this years crop.

For many people it is traditional to plant Irish potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day.  Here it was sleeting all day on Monday, so that didn’t happen.  My plan is to plant the first day the ground is dry enough to allow it.

I’ve always planted yellow, white and red varieties.  But last year we added fingerlings and really liked them.  So this year I’m only planting Yukon Golds, along with four or five varieties of fingerlings.

There are lots of ways to grow potatoes.  I just stick to the old way of doing it.  I open furrows with a potato plow, and drop in the seed potatoes. Then I pull all the dirt from one side of the row over on the seeds.  Once they’ve emerged and are about a foot above the ground I pull the soil from the other side of the row, filling the furrow.  After that I hill them with a hoe as they grow.  It’s a lot of labor, but it works for us.

Potatoes are a great homesteading crop–essential in my opinion.  They produce more calories per square foot than any other vegetable.  They store easily and keep well.  And the taste of a freshly dug potato can’t be beat.

Already a staple, they have a great future as a food crop.  Recently I read that potatoes thrive in atmospheres with elevated levels of carbon dioxide. So yields are increasing as the level of CO2 increases and they are expected to become easier to grow farther north.  I reckon that’s a little bit of silver lining.