Monday, January 30, 2012

Time for Taters

I planted my potatoes already.  What am I crazy?  President's Day weekend has been my traditional potato planting time of the year for quite a while, but not this year.  With this insanely warm weather we've been having, I think I'll roll the dice and live dangerously. 

Planting potatoes this early is not without risk.  I'll need to be prepared to cover the plants if the weather takes a turn to the extreme, which is not uncommon here in Texas. 

Why would I want to take this risk and plant early?  Timing.  To have a good harvest of potatoes, I need to grow healthy, strong plants when the temperatures are cool.  I have a feeling that summer is coming early this year.  In order to harvest in May, before temperatures get too hot, I need to get going and plant early.

When I purchased my seed potatoes a week ago, I selected mostly smallish potatoes, to reduce the number of potatoes I would need to cut and prepare.  The larger potatoes can be cut, but cut potatoes need to be treated with wettable dusting sulphur and allowed to dry.  I'm going to admit right now, I usually don't have the patience for this.  Oh sure, I treated the cuts, but then I stuck them right into the ground.  Naughty girl.

There's all sorts of fun ways to grow potatoes, but I'm a rather boring and old fashioned follower of the trench method.  My hubby dug these beautiful trenches for me.  He likes homegrown potatoes as much as I do, so we usually work on this project together.

This year I'm planting 2 - 3 X 12 foot raise beds with potatoes.  One bed will be planted with the Kennebec and the other will be planted with the Red La Soda.  The potatoes are placed in the trenches about a foot apart and covered with 4 inches of soil. 

As the potatoes grow, we'll pull the soil in around them until we reach the top level of the bed.  After that, we'll mound up dirt, compost and hay around the stems to promote more potato growth and hopefully keep the soil moist and cool.  The drip irrigation lines are a little out of sorts during this whole process, but eventually they'll be level with the plants.

I love homegrown potatoes.  Potatoes you grow yourself can't compare with their grocery store cousins. Homegrown potatoes are incredibly firm and flavorful.  Both varieties I like to grow, Kennebec and Red La Soda, are thin skinned, so there's no need to peel them.  They taste so fresh and don't have that mustiness that you find in grocery store potatoes. 

I hope I've inspired you to try to grow potatoes yourself.  I'm going to close with a picture from April of 2010.  The potatoes in the foreground are bookending a small stand of blue bonnets, and look at how green it was back then.  Almost like Ireland, huh?  


  1. Yum! I've never grown potatoes--shame on me. But, my parents did and I grew up on fresh taters.
    Perhaps I should consider planting a couple in my tiny little veggie patch. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. If your patch is small, those little fingerling potatoes might be just the thing. I've always wanted to try them, but some how I always end up with Kennebec and Red La Soda. Some day I'll get adventurous.

  2. I've had very modest success with spring potatoes in a potato grow bag (and no success with spring potatoes in a raised bed that a Laborador dug up two weeks after I planted them!). I stopped by Callahan's on the way home from your place on Saturday and I'm ready to try, try again.

    1. Good for you! That's the spirit. This is the year your going to be successful.

  3. I didn’t grow potatoes for the longest time because they are so cheap to buy at the grocery. Then one year, I had a few sprouted potatoes in the house that I just threw into the garden. I harvested a couple and ate them one day when it was just me and my son at home. We both started sneaking out to the garden to look for more that we could eat alone and not have to share. The flavor is so good. The grocery varieties just don’t compare.
    The April picture of your garden has given me a bit of spring fever. It’s so pretty then.
    Cindy s.

    1. If this rain keeps up, we might have a nice green April on the way. Wouldn't that be lovely. I'm getting Spring fever just thinking about it.