Episode 18 – Growing & Harvesting Organic Potatoes
Guest: John Mills, Eagle Creek Farms
“Get your kids growing with you….” says Alberta’s John Mills, a 4th generation farmer but the first in his family to grow potatoes organically. “I didn’t start off pursuing organic vegetable production or transitioning the farm to organic production. It was just a slow evolution of realizing that I could grow without the chemicals and the need of those inputs. And then just the challenge of making that work in a region that’s not historically for organic production it was …it took years,” says John, who fondly remembers helping his parents at the market when he was young and says that was a big part of what led him to become a farmer even though his dad strongly discouraged it.
In this conversation find out the difference between determinant and indeterminate potatoes, seed potatoes, some of the trade tricks from commercial growers and how to make sure your potatoes are ready to harvest and store this fall.
The focus today is on organic production because potatoes are one of those crops listed on the dirty dozen of frequently sprayed crops. Home gardeners want to start growing more of their own clean food and John is here to help. Some of the potatoes John talks about are Nicola, Sieglinde, French Fingerling, Bellanita, Rode Eesterling, Dakota pearl, Pink Fir, Amarosa red, Alta rose, Alta Blush, Norland, Russet Burbank, Viking, Sangria and Russian Blue.
For more info about the dirty dozen check out the Environmental Working Group dirty dozen lists for 2020 (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php.) You’ll be surprised that potatoes are not the only commercially grown food with such high levels of pesticides. Other commonly tainted food include strawberries, spinach, kale, grapes and tomatoes. PS In the podcast I say potatoes are in the top ten but they are actually number 12 on the dirty dozen list.
Covid alert: John’s four kids are home from school in this segment and you can hear their sweet voices in the background occasionally.
Connect with John through his web site: https://www.eaglecreekfarms.ca/about/contact-2/
Link to the Organic Centre of Canada: https://www.dal.ca/faculty/agriculture/oacc/en-home.html
Donna is Helping Gardener’s Grow through her interviews with various interesting growers and gardeners. Want to build soil, grow food in extraordinary ways or raise the world’s most expensive spice? Listen in and subscribe.
In every podcast interview we talk about food. To ask a question about the current or past episodes send a voice memo from your phone to [email protected].com. In the voice memo tell us your name and where you garden first and then ask your question.
Music in every episode is by Donna’s son, Brennan Anderson, school teacher and musician in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada.
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