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My 2018 Potato Order – What, Why & How

by | Feb 6, 2018 | Food, Greenhouse, Soil | 2 comments

A late Sieglinde potato harvest from mucky wet soil was so sweet. Homegrown potatoes have spoiled us.

I had breakfast out last weekend and the potatoes were mealy and tasteless.  It was a classy restaurant but I realized something about myself: I have become a potato snob. My husband mentioned the same thing. And he doesn’t usually notice food much. He said our garden has ruined the restaurant experience. He doesn’t enjoy the food when we eat out like he used. An interesting observation. Potatoes grown at home are definitely sweeter and have a nice mouth feel. Yummy. But he was talking about all the food we grow – it just tastes better.

I harvested one of each variety of potato all at the same time because they were growing in fabric root pouches and I wanted to do a taste test while they were fresh. Notice how clean the produce is when grown in bags with straw.

Last year I did a baking trial with the harvested potatoes and this year I have cut my potato order way back. Last year I was trying everything under the moon. For one thing Helpful Husband wouldn’t eat the Blue Russian potatoes I bought and grew! So this year I focused my order on three family favourites.

The “roasted potato” experiment was interesting. From top left clockwise: Warba, French Fingerling, Blue Russian, Sieglinde, German Butterball and Pink Fir. My very favourite was the French Fingerling with it’s red skin and yellow flesh.

This year I ordered French Fingerling (so tasty), Sieglinde (early and plentiful) and German Butterball (I think because of the name but it is a nice blemish-free variety.) I wanted to order Warba again just because they are so early and they have nice Irish-white flesh but John was sold out by the time I placed my order. (Later I found a few at Seedy Saturday in Qualicum Beach from another supplier so I bought those.)

Because I always need to try something new I ordered  a potato four-pack of Bellanita and Bintje. As usual, I will keep you all informed of my progress but I am pretty sure you won’t be eating potatoes earlier than me (Double Dare You!)

I am so confident my potatoes will be early because Helpful Husband bought me a soil heater  for the soil in my greenhouse. Here is the plan: There will be no more planting of potatoes in the greenhouse. They just linger and take up valuable space when I am ready to plant other more important things.

Canadians wanting to warm their soil can buy the Wrap-On Brand cables meant to keep ice off our gutters and roofs. Americans can buy a product called the Wrap-On Gro Quick heavy duty electric soil warmer cable. When we called the office about these two products the technician in the USA explained they are basically the same cables except the second one is not registered yet for greenhouse use in Canada.

So, instead of taking up greenhouse space, I have placed one potato on top of 15 cm of soil inside each 15 gallon Root Pouch (a fabric bag) and placed the bags over my now hot soil cables.  When they sprout I will gradually add straw to the bags.

I placed the 80 foot length of heating cable back and forth along the bed and  placed thee planted root pouches over the cable. So far this has warmed soil quickly to 70 degree F and I expect the potatoes to sprout quickly.

By mid-late March, when the potatoes are actively growing  I will move the grow bags off the heat cables to make room for other plantings. Then I will bury the cables in the soil.

Corle is our Lagotto Puppy. She is quite interested in the smell of soil and the taste of potatoes and plant pots. She occasionally dug her own potatoes from the garden in 2017 and then surprised me with a half chewed spud. She just turned one so in 2018 she will be expected to tread lightly on the beds and leave the potato digging to me.

I will keep the potatoes in the greenhouse aisles until the weather outside is settled. If it’s still chilly outside when I have to move them I will cover the plants with Agribon floating row cover to stop them from getting a chill. It’s an experiment but follow along. All I know for sure is we are closer than ever to avoiding bad restaurant breakfasts and dinners. And I expect we’ll be eating our own crop of spuds by late May or early June.

 

 

 

When the mature potatoes are harvested from the straw-stuffed root pouches they are almost clean.

Pink Fir is a tasty potato but it has a lot of bumps and lumps and extra arms

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2 Comments

  1. Donna Balzer

    Hi Glenda- Yes I used wire cage frames that are a meter or three feet tall and that works wonderfully for late season varieties that keep growing taller as the season progresses. I also use the root pouch (Fabric) bags but I only put about 6-8 inches soil (15-20 cm) in the bottom and gradually fill them either with soil or with straw. I like the 15 gallon bags and as you suggested it is best to use early or mid-season potatoes in these. Warba is an early type I have used but I also like Sieglande (it is mid-season fingerling.) Either way once the plant can no longer grow taller – due to variety or end of space – they focus on growing bigger tubers.

  2. Glenda Isaac

    Hi Donna, I am new to your blog. Looking at the wire cage potato growing vs the root bags. Are the bags tall enough? You seemed to stress needing the metre height of the wire cage? Do the bags support more compact (lower) growing varieties? Thank you!

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