Saturday, November 14, 2009

potato harvest

The boys and I emptied the potato boxes today. I was a bit disappointed, as the promise of the boxes being stuffed from top to bottom turned out to be rather fanciful.

The vines were sufficiently dead, I thought. Off to the compost bin with them.

For harvesting it's sufficient to remove most of one side. I obviously didn't use the top six inches of the box, not that it mattered in this case.

We had 29 pounds of beautiful Desiree reds. There were also a few rotten ones, generally small.

The other box contained 18 pounds of Yellow Finns.

5 pounds of those had a bit of rot at one end, but were easily pared for fresh eating.

I also dug 1.5 pounds of both varieties from the plants beneath the forsythia. These were the leftovers after planting the boxes, and between the constant battering of soccer balls and the almost full-time shade once the forsythia leafed out this yield is hardly a surprise.

Almost all of the potatoes were from the bottom of the bins, although there were a few big ones in the upper parts of both bins. I suspect that my technique for covering the vines as they grew was not correct and I ended up almost entirely with stems rather than roots. However, that also means that the yield, where it existed, was not too bad.

The rot surely is from overwatering and poor drainage beneath the bins. That's not a surprise, now that I think about it. I don't think the growing technique had anything to do with it.

There's no doubt that grocery store potatoes can't touch fresh ones for flavor or quality, but as far as production is concerned this was probably not very economical. I'm sure I can get at least a couple more years out of these boxes, but the method demands more effort and cost than is justified without a significant yield improvement.

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