Category Archives: potatoes

Mid-July report

I am pleased to report we might actually be winning the war with bugs and weeds.  I know this was a pressing concern for all of you.

Turnips and radishes
Turnips and radishes


Beets and carrots
Beets and carrots




Strawberries & herbs
Strawberries & herbs
Brandywine tomatoes
Brandywine tomatoes


The back-40
The back-40


Beans & peas
Beans & peas


This past weekend I harvested an entire mixing bowl of banana peppers and cucumbers.  And promptly canned all of it, with the help of Old McDonald.  We have three jars of sweet banana peppers and three jars of bread & butter pickles.  There will be plenty more coming, as we are about to be buried in tomatoes. Our Roma plants are producing like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I see a lot of sauce in our future.  And everyone else’s.

Done…..with planting

We finished planting this weekend, in some of the hottest weather we have seen this early in June. It felt unspeakably hot to be out there yesterday, but we persevered. The tally:

125 Mr. Big Peas
120 Sweet Peas
100 Royal Purple Bush Beans
48 Pole Beans
2nd planting of Sweet corn
7 Sugar Baby watermelon plants
4 Moon & Stars watermelon plants
8 Dill’s Atlantic Giant pumpkins
9 Amish pumpkins (those mysterious pumpkins from the purchase 2 years ago in upstate NY at an Amish farm stand)
8 Jack-Be-Little pumpkins
7 Orange Smoothies

And it look like this:


…..which doesn’t look like much at this point. It joins the sweet potatoes, first corn planting (of a brand called Quickie; we’ll see if it lives up to it’s name) and sunflowers. No edible value to sunflowers, really (well, except the seeds) but we’ve always wanted to grow them so this year we finally got around to planting some.

This year we’ve fenced the entire garden. Last year we only fenced the peas, beans and corn, which worked out fine, but once the pumpkins, watermelons and winter squash had matured, something came through and sampled a little bit out of quite a few of the fruits. Plus, this year we have a turkey. We think it’s a female, but who can tell? (It could be a juvenile male. Only time will tell.) This turkey enjoys walking across the corn, and snoozing in the dirt mounds we created to plant the watermelons, squash and pumpkins. So up went the fence. Which works, because as I was finishing up the watering yesterday she walked out of the brush and right into the fence. Someone unhelpfully pointed out turkeys can fly. We’re hoping the dirt isn’t that appealing to her that she’ll fly over and end up stuck. Or knock the fence over.

What on earth…..?

Saturday night we arrived home from a day out to discover these plants in our mailbox:


They were packaged up with moss around the roots, waxed paper around that, bound up with an elastic. I was mystified – what on earth had we ordered that would result in us being sent live plants?

Any guesses?

Sweet potatoes! We were astonished – all the other potatoes have arrived as tubers. We were even more astonished to have them arrive at the house, because both of us mistakenly believed we’d taken sweet potatoes off the order list because of their price. Apparently not, but this is a mistake I’m more than happy to live with.

This particular variety will produce potatoes that are between 2 -3 pounds if grown properly, and evidently do well in all types of soil, including very poor soil. Which is good, because we have a habit of benign neglect when it comes to our potatoes.


Today I planted the potatoes.  I love planting potatoes, it’s so easy:

Dig hole

Select potato

Deposit in hole

Today’s temperature reached 92 degrees, which for April is a record breaker.  It also makes us feel like we’re behind with our garden planting, even though we are not.  I also planted the parsnips:

I did not expect the seeds to look like that, but they are way easier to deal with than carrot seeds, which are so tiny and fussy I did not even bother to photograph them, I just threw them in the shallow trench 1″ apart and covered them up. 

In the end, our middle raised garden looked like this:

In other words, not much.  But we’re a month ahead of last year, at least.  And with 20 potatoes planted (to last year’s seven) we should see double the yield.  Maybe.

Hello? Anyone?

Yikes, a whole month has gone by and narry an upate about our garden.  Remember that whole post I wrote about wanting to be accountable?  Still do.  Finding time to upload the photos and write the posts has been a bit of a problem with my work schedule.

The garden is mostly dead at this point.  Over Labor Day weekend I harvested the potatoes and was delighted that six plants produced a generous mixing bowl’s worth. 

I was so gleeful digging those up – I did almost nothing while they were growing, and they produced beautifully.  We gave some away and ate the rest.  They were delicious.  We will be planting many, many more potatoes next year, likely in a much bigger space than the raised beds allow.

Our experiment in attempting to ripen the tomatoes in a cardboard box with a banana?  Totally worked.  Which is excellent, because we had a lot of underripe tomatoes at the time of the hurricane. 

My attempt at sauce, before cooking

We’ve had the most amazing crops of tomatoes this year.  In previous years, we did well with the cherry tomatoes, but full-sized tomatoes were always a problem.  This year, bunches of Early Girls and Brandywines.  In fact, we ate what might be the best specimen just the other week for dinner:

Ironically, we picked this one before our late-September trip to the Finger Lakes when it wasn’t quite ripe.  Figuring it might ripen while we were away, we brought it with us.  In it’s own special storage bowl, packed carefully with other groceries that we were transporting to our cabin in New York.  And then we brought it home.  Aparently, Brandywines enjoy travel and respond accordingly:

Next year, more Brandywines.  Especially since they are not readily available at the local grocery store, which is one of the major reasons we grow vegetables – finding heirloom varieties of anything at grocery stores is next to impossible.  The guy who wrote “The $64 Tomato” was right about how good Brandywines taste.

I say potato, you say get me a magnifying glass

When I put the potatoes and shallots in this year (totally an impulse buy) I had no real sense about how to grow them.  I was marginally concerned that I had no idea what I was doing, nor did I know anyone who was growing potatoes. Well, except the parents of my Crazy Russian Friend (CRF) who grow potatoes in….Russia. (Imagine that.)  CRF insists that the climate in his hometown is the same as here, so I asked some advice about how to grow them. 

You plant them in the ground,” he told me, stirring his tea.  (Er, thanks dude, figured that part out.) 

“What about mounding the soil around the plants, like I’ve read?”

Yes, you should do that to keep the potatoes from popping out of the ground.  How many acres of potatoes do you have?

“I have six plants.”

You will not get very many potatoes.”

“Any potatoes at all, really, will be a victory.”

It is good that you have low standards for potato production.

So other than being an entertaining lunch companion, CRF was not particularly enlightening with tips for growing potatoes.  (And those of you who know CRF are no doubt laughing, knowing exactly the tone of voice he used and the fact that I always tell his parts of stories with a thick Russian accent.)  By that point, they were already in the ground so I had lost nothing in the venture. 

A few weeks ago the plants developed what looked like potato beetles.  Internet research taught me that you can’t actually chemically eradicate potato beetles because they’re immune to all but the most hazardous pesticides.  Since we’re pretty much an organic garden anyway, the preferred method of removal, by hand, seemed like a great alternative.  (A recent Facebook post also taught me that you can sprinkle bran around the potatoes, which potato beetles will eat.  They then drink water, which causes the bran to expand and the beetles to allegedly explode.  I have no independed verification of bran-consuming exploding beetles, but the idea of it delights me, as does imaging what exploding beetles sound like.  Guess who raided her husband’s cereal this morning to go sprinkle around the potatoes?)

The hand removal of the beetles has been going well, as you can see below:

I check the plants every few days.  While out poking around in the garden, I noticed what looked like a very brown rock poking out from under one of the plants.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was actually a potato:

So there are apparently potatoes growing under all that leafy beetle-infested plant life after all.  Hopefully they will be considerably larger by harvest, or I won’t be sharing.  Not even with CRF.