Digging Potatoes

Today I dug up the potato harvest. I've been 'stealing' new potatoes from deep underground for about a month now, so we've already eaten several pounds. I still expected to get quite a few today, and I was not disappointed.

The potato vines had all died and withered, which meant the potatoes were ready to be dug out.

I grew the potatoes in towers. Last April, I put the potato seed chunks on top of the raised bed, surrounded them with a wide basket made of hardware mesh, lined the basket with newspaper, then covered the chunks with more compost. As the potatoes grew, I added more dirt and more newspaper, until finally the entire basket was full, with the potato vines growing lustily out of the top.

I made two of these towers. One was quite wide, with potato seed from Seed Savers Exchange. The other basket was more narrow, with seed from Renee's. Both were Yukon Gold. And the wide basket did MUCH better than the narrow. So I'm not sure if it was the quality of the seed or the width of the basket.

This winter I intend to grow fingerlings and red potatoes in regular mounds rather than a tower, with hay as my 'hilling' material rather than pure soil. So we'll see how those do.

Meanwhile, it was fun to remove the wire basket and the newspaper, and find all the potatoes down below. The dirt is gorgeous and smells wonderful, so this was a pleasant (though sweaty and dirty) task.

I had a pretty good yield, maybe a bushel? Considering how many we've already harvested, I'm pleased.

Now the question is how to cure them. I rinsed them and put them in a box with a dish of water, one towel nestling them at the bottom, and one towel over the top to keep the humidity in. I'll leave them like this for a week or so. (That is, if we don't get greedy and eat them first.) I took out a few for dinner and gave a few to my dad, but I still have quite a few left to cure.

This is the first year we've been able to have a harvest of potatoes, as the deer always ate the foliage before, and killed them.

One last thing: As I was removing the spent potato vines and shoving them into a container to take to the compost bin, I found this little lady.

The picture quality is bad, but I was in a hurry to get her red belly markings before she flipped over. Yikes! Glad I was wearing gloves. I know we have Black Widows in the yard, but I've never seen them in the produce before.