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.

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12 comments on “Time for Potatoes

  1. bobraxton says:

    as they grow / I hill them / with a hoe

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  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, happy first day of official Spring. Yesterday was a non garden day here as well. It wasn’t raining but the snow from the night before was melting. It has all disappeared and perhaps today will be a potato panting day for me. I just have to get the bed ready. It’s supposed to be middle 60s today. Amazingly, I have nothing else on the schedule that has to be done. That doesn’t happen very often.

    Have a great day in the garden.

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    • Bill says:

      It was too muddy here. I tried tilling the pea garden and made a mess.
      It was a beautiful day though. We have about four days before the next forecast snow. Whether anything will get planted remains to be seen.

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  3. shoreacres says:

    I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve had anything but a sweet potato. Do you plant those, too? I do like the Yukon Gold, and occasionally I’ll fix new red potatoes with butter and parsley. Yum!

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    • Bill says:

      Absolutely. Sweet potatoes are the best. They’re a summer crop (not even the same vegetable as an Irish potato). We plant them around the first of June and harvest them around Halloween.

      We love our Yukon Golds.

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  4. El Guapo says:

    Is your planting schedule based on experience, or general farming practices.
    (asking out of curiosity of how a former city dweller migrates himself successfully to a farming mentality)

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    • Bill says:

      Well I grew up on the farm. Some of what I learned growing up stuck with me and I have a family/community of farmers. Most of the old-timers planted by the Almanac, by moon signs, or by traditional dates (e.g. St Patricks Day, Good Friday, Columbus Day, etc.). I tend to just use calendar dates. I have a calendar of the dates that have worked for me, but I shuffle it around based upon experience and the fact that the growing seasons have changed over the past 10-20 years.

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  5. We are planting potatoes for the first time this year and are really excited! We’re going to try out several different methods to see what works best for us. I love potatoes, so it’s a no brainer to grow my own!

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    • Bill says:

      I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it goes for you. Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow, in my opinion. Keeping the potato bugs (Colorado Potato Beetles) off them is the biggest challenge. Hoping you have an abundant harvest!

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  6. Amy Lou says:

    I will be copying your oldey timey method, thank you very much 🙂 All the books seem to say that potatoes don’t like it up here in the high desert but that’s not gonna stop me from trying!

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