Saturday, June 29, 2013

Potato Harvest 2013

I just harvested my potatoes, but I really should have done it about a month ago. Just been too busy, and thought they would be fine waiting in the ground.

Lesson learned. Next time I'm harvesting them as soon as the tops are mostly dead. For one thing, it was hot, sweaty work digging them up when it was over 100 degrees. For another thing, they didn't look so good when I did get them out.

Some of the potatoes had already started to sprout, as you see in this picture on the left. On the right is a good example of the many potatoes I dug up that had holes in them from bugs tunneling into them. Yuck! Some of them had also rotted. I threw those away, but kept the sprouted ones, and the ones that has some holes in them, if the rest of the potato seemed OK.

Last time I grew potatoes, I hardly got out more than I put in. Central Texas isn't a very good potato growing area, but I've read that you can expect about a 5-fold yield here. However, that's much less than in good potato growing areas where you can get a 10-fold yield.

This year I planted 3 pounds of two varieties, Purple Viking and Red Pontiac, and got about twice that much back. That's an improvement, so I hope that as I get my soil better and better I might finally get up to that 5-fold yield.

Just like last time, the Purple Viking potatoes were the best variety. I got 6.16 pounds of them, and they also generally looked like they were in better shape, with fewer bug holes and sprouts.
The Red Pontiac potatoes yielded 5.63 and had a lot more damage from bugs. This is a variety from Florida that's supposed to do well in the South, but I really should have dug them earlier.
A while ago I got a few yellow potatoes in my CSA bag, and they sprouted before I had a chance to eat them. I went ahead and planted them in containers just to see what I'd get. It was a bit late for potato planting at that time, but I did end up getting about half a pound of small potatoes that will make good seed potatoes next time. I'm not sure what variety they are, but they're probably Yukon Gold. They look like Yukon Golds, and it's a popular variety.

Finally, you may be wondering whatever happened to the mini-potatoes I grew from true potato seed. Well, sadly, most of them rotted. I dug the ones up that didn't rot and put them in the fridge for safe keeping. I really should have put them in the fridge right away to begin with. This is all I have left.

I've decided I'm going to stick all these potatoes in the fridge and use them as seed potatoes to plant this winter for next year's harvest. Potatoes you want to eat shouldn't be kept in the fridge because it makes them convert their starches to sugars and taste bad, but for planting that doesn't matter. The Purple Viking and especially Red Pontiac potatoes look so bad from being left in the ground too long that I really don't feel like eating any of them anyway. Since they're already starting to sprout, I think they'll make fine seed potatoes. Putting them in the fridge should make them go dormant, and then when it's time to plant them this winter, they should sprout this fine. Maybe next time the soil will be improved enough for me to get an even better harvest, and next time I'll dig them much sooner before they start to rot or get eaten by bugs in the ground.

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