Potatoes for Breakfast
Our first attempt at planting potatoes (last summer) was only marginally successful. We used some sprouting Yukon Gold potatoes from the supermarket, which initially grew well, but quickly succumbed to some rot or another. In spite of this, the potato harvest was quite a thrill. I’d never grown or dug up potatoes before, and our meager crop of tiny potatoes was very exciting. Not to mention delicious. So I was determined that this year we would have a bigger crop.
On the advice of my friend Nancy, I started with seed potatoes from Wood Prairie Farm, a small organic family farm in Maine. I ordered Cranberry Red, All-Blue, and Russian Banana Fingerling seed. We dedicated one of our garden beds to a big patch of potatoes, and the girls and I spent one afternoon putting all those seed potatoes into the ground. They grew and grew, and I piled more and more wheat straw mulch around the plants, a practice that Steve watched with a dubious eye. But they kept growing and I kept mulching, trying to create a nice deep, dark, area for those potatoes to grow.
By the time we returned from New York mid-July, the potatoes were starting to die back, and we stuck our hands in and felt around in the soil–a practice I learned from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is called “grabbling.” I wanted to hold off and give the taters a little more time to grow, but once the kids had their hands on them it was hard to resist digging a few up. So we did, digging and eating a few plants’ worth at a time.
Last Sunday, Anna and I were out working in the garden, picking the morning’s harvest, doing a little weeding, and laying down more black plastic to kill weeds in preparation for more garden beds. Anna pleaded with me to dig more potatoes, and before I knew it we were digging up all the faded plants. Which meant lots of potatoes–mostly reds and blues, with a few fingerlings. The blues were a little puny, but the reds were big and beautiful. While I did my garden chores, Anna collected the potatoes and washed them in the pools of water that had collected on top of the plastic.
(You might notice that in this picture, Anna has my UNC photo I.D. clipped to her shirt, so we were actually playing that she was Barbara, and I was her helper.)
This was actually one of the few days that our harvest exceeded my usual berry-picking bucket. Anna and I hauled all those potatoes (plus cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes) back towards the house and the hose for washing. Never able to resist a tub of water, Anna eventually ended up in the dishpan with the veggies as we washed them.
Then inside, and a big pan of roasted potatoes for breakfast. Yum!