Sunday, June 19, 2011

Harvesting Potatoes

If you tickle the earth with a hoe she laughs with a harvest.
-Douglas Jerrold

Friday we harvested the potatoes we planted on February 5th.  The bed was an experiment...I needed somewhere to put all the straw and manure from the goat stalls.  We had been spreading it around the fruit trees in the orchard but after awhile I needed somewhere else to put it so I started layering the goat bedding in a large pile with horse manure in a partly sunny spot.  Kind of like sheet mulching but not as intentional.  After a couple of months of doing this the bed was looking really nice so I made the border with hog fencing and stakes, then in went some potatoes (4lbs.).  California White and Russet Norkotah to be exact.  I am amazed at how well the potatoes like the manure. 

potato patch in the beginning, just emerging

The leafy tops of the plants grew together to create a living mulch so we only had to water every couple of weeks (it also rained so much!)

growing really lush greens

I was worried that all the nitrogen from the horse manure would produce super growth in the green tops of the plants but not so much in the underground parts.  We were more than pleasantly surprised when we dug under the soil!

first look into into the soil

I learned that in our soil, the California White grew much larger than the Russet and produced more as well.  Also learned we can plant much closer together next time.  There was a lot of empty space. 

newly harvested potato patch, I'm sure we missed some 

Pam Pierce of Golden Gate Gardening says after harvesting put unwashed potatoes in a warm, dry place for a few hours then brush off most of the dirt and store in a dark, dry, cool place (about 60 degrees F) for 2 weeks.  After this curing period move them to a dark, humid, cooler (40 degrees F) spot with good air circulation.

feels like about 60 lbs

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