Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Feeding the Hungry

After my ride this evening, I decided to dig up one of the potatoes that looked the most yellowed and tired. I have been hearing a lot about the Late Blight that has been hitting farmers in the North East. Although none of my potatoes look blighted, I am worried about getting them out of the ground. Too early and the potatoes are too small and underdeveloped. Too late and I risk the blight and having them rot in the ground.

The decision on when to harvest was made for me. I picked a plant at the end of a row and gently went searching for the tubers. The first tuber I pulled out of the ground was half eaten. You could very clearly see the mole teeth marks biting into the flesh. Well, there you go. I decided to harvest all the potatoes tonight, lest I lose more of them to the varmint.

Aside from being half eaten, the rest of the potatoes on that plant were of good size. A couple more weeks probably would not have made much difference, but I would have lost more to the hungry rodent. As my hands followed its little burrows around my plants, I knew I had to act now or never.

This year's harvest.

I ended up pulling 30 lbs of potatoes out of the ground. Some of the later planted potatoes were less mature, but I decided to pull them all and count myself lucky. Thirty pounds is far, far off from my goal of 100 lbs of potatoes to last a year, but it's a good first year. I did not suffer through the blight (and my tomatoes look blissfully good right now), I did not have any rot or other pests beside the mole. And the five varieties I planted all did well.

The purples yielded the largest tubers. The deep red were next. The light red were small but prolific. And the German butter potatoes I bought special online yielded nice mid- to small-sized potatoes but only a few per plant. The fingerlings were also quite prolific. So the (hand picked by virgins and rinsed in unicorn tears = $$$) special-order potatoes were the most planted and yielded the least per plant. The other varieties I bought off a farmer at the Spring farmer's market and used for food and seed did the best. There's a good lesson there.

Hardening in the nice, safe, mole-free basement.

That mole ate my purples!

All in all, I am happy with my potato production. I am going to plant twice as much next year from local stock, and try to combat the moles earlier. I am glad I decided to pull a plant to check it tonight, and I am very lucky that the plant I pulled had been eaten, or else the little critter would have gone undetected for a few more weeks until the planned September harvest.

4 comments:

dp said...

We dug up 2/3 of a planter box of reds this week and got about 20lbs. I expect another 40lbs from the rest of that box and the other box, I guess. They are tasty, but the skins seem awfully thin to me for some reason.

What do you do to harden them? Just leave them out in a cool, dry place? I am so flipping surprised that we grew anything that I am woefully unprepared to deal with these riches. I mostly gave ours away at work.

feenting: what happens to teen fans and rock concerts

Chris said...

I looked at ours today and suspect they are also ready to be dug. They are in husband's garden though and since he's not allowed in mine at all I will leave his to him.

Yes, we have differing opinions on how to do a garden and I have decided to agree to disagree. Every spring he fights me on it though.

Anonymous said...

have heard that sticking those little whirly-gigs that spin in the wind deter ground burrowing varmints, something about the vibratoins...I have a large dog and a beagle and a plethora of cats..no moles or mice! Good luck next year! from Canada

Judith said...

I understand why you stopped your other blog but I sure wish you kept up with this one. How was the rest of the harvest?