Monday, October 6, 2008

Give Potatoes A Chance

I am not the biggest fan of potatoes. It isn't that I dislike them, there are just other things that I prefer. That means that I've never really wanted to devote precious garden space to growing them. Now I've decided to give potatoes a chance. I took a class from Cynthia Sandberg at Love Apple Farm about growing winter vegetables. One of the topics she covered was growing potatoes in containers.

Here's the method: Use 15 gallon nursery pots which have been disinfected with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Put 4 inches of soil into the pot and push 5 to 6 fingerlings or 3 to 4 larger potatoes into the soil. When the potato plants have grown about 8 inches add more soil to the pot to cover the stems. Each time the plants get about 8 inches tall add soil. Repeat until the pot is full. It is possible to grow them in the winter in this area if the tops are covered with frost cloth at night. When the potatoes are ready to harvest all you have to do is dump out the pot and sort through the soil to harvest the spuds.

It sounds like its worth trying so I ordered a few interesting potato varieties from Ronnigers. Here's a list of what I ordered along with Ronniger's descriptions:

Early Rose - An old American heirloom, Early Rose has a smooth pinkish red skin and delicious white flesh streaked with red. A favorite back in it s day, it s fun to grow, harvest and sample raw. A spud with a great heritage, Early Rose is the parent to Burbank s famous potato and then the offshoot discovered in Colorado called Russet Burbank.

Charlotte - Good producer of medium oblong nuggets, sometimes slightly crescent shaped, with very thin, golden yellow skin and flesh with shallow eyes. Great salad variety and a real attention grabber. One of our favorites for eating throughout the year, excellent storage qualities.

French Fingerling - A gourmet quality fingerling with satin red skin and yellow flesh with an interior ring of red when cut across. Produces good-quality, medium sized tubers which are a great addition to any plate. It is said that this fingerling arrived in this country in a horse’s feedbag. Early variety.

Garnet Chili - This is an 1853 heirloom and a parent of many potatoes. Rose-to-red skin, it has a real potato look and same nutty flavorful taste of a century ago . . . with rounded eyes and rolling characteristics, sometimes irregular shapes. Thick-skinned and a terrific keeper.

LaRatte - Similar to the Russian Banana with its yellow skin and flesh. This fingerling has a rich and chest-nutty flavor and has long been a favorite of fine chefs. Wonderfully smooth and creamy when pureed yet maintains a firm texture when cooked. Mid to late season variety.

Yellow Finn - In Finnish “Niku Lapua”. This is the classic European yellow-fleshed gourmet potato. Yellow Finn’s buttery sweet flavor distinguishes it from any other potato. Produces excellent yields of flat, round, sometimes pear-shaped tubers. Performs best with a lush, long growing season. Moist, mashable texture and an excellent keeper. One of our favorites.

Perhaps, after growing these interesting potatoes, I just might become more of a fan. Anyway, it will be an interesting experiment.

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