74 pounds of potatoes. That was our one-day harvest on Wednesday. I had hoped to wait for our first frost to harvest the potatoes that remained in the ground. A frost would have given us just a bit more confidence that the blight wouldn't settle on the tubers after harvest and then rot them in storage. But the weather has not been cooperative. We've been hit with downright wintry temperatures which all but halt garden growth, but which will also just not drop below freezing. We're waiting on the first frost to put in the garlic as well.
So. The potato harvest. It took us about three hours to bring in those 74 pounds. Admittedly we weren't working like demons. By the end I have to tell you that the bucket method was looking better and better. We speared a few of my beloved Sangre potatoes with the pitchfork while harvesting, and found some that had been pretty well gnawed by rodents underground, voles perhaps. Neither of these things happen with potatoes grown in buckets. Also, my lower back was really feeling the strain.
Our total potato harvest for the year came to just over 100 pounds of Sangres, La Rattes, German Butterballs, and Kennebecs - four heirloom varieties. We planted about 11 pounds of seed potatoes, so our overall yield is a quite successful 9 to 1 return. Pretty amazing considering the late blight we got hit with. Yesterday I made a harvest soup with the potatoes damaged by the pitchfork, plus our own leeks, carrots, kale, herbs, garlic, and chicken broth. The only ingredients we didn't produce right here on 2/3 acre were a little olive oil, kosher salt, and white pepper. More satisfying than I can express.
The Sangres seemed noticeably larger this year than I remember them being last year. I love these for their incredibly silky, creamy texture. The La Rattes are a fingerling variety which are a real pain to harvest out of the ground because they set so many teeny tiny baby potatoes. But the La Rattes we roasted last year had the most intense potato flavor I've ever tasted in my life. These may well be the best candidate for bucket growing next year. Kennebecs are large baking potatoes that I like to have on hand when I want the potato to be the main course for dinner. A baked potato with some cheese and kale on top works for us as dinner. The German Butterballs were our new trial this year and they have become an instant favorite of my husband. They have a beautiful golden color and are sized very nicely for boiling and mashing. Their flavor explains the second part of their name.
I've no idea what last year's potato harvest weighed, so I have nothing to compare this to. But I suspect we will not buy any potatoes this year. We'll simply eat these until they're gone and then go without until next year's crop is ready. I've offered to supply the potatoes for our family Thanksgiving feast to feed 17 people. So that will take a significant chunk away from our stores. I'll be paying attention to when we run out of spuds. If we run out well before they show signs of sprouting, I'll plan for a larger harvest next year.
I live on a 2/3 acre homestead in a residential neighborhood. A major goal is to demonstrate how much food a non-expert can produce in my particular climate and hardiness zone, with the soils native to my immediate area. We have gardens of annual and perennial plants, keep laying hens and honey bees, and regularly bite off more than we can chew. Another major goal is to pay off our mortgage as fast as possible. Here I blog about frugality, self-reliance, gardening, cooking and baking, food preservation, practical skills, half-baked experiments, and preparing to thrive in a lower-energy future.