Friday, August 11, 2006

Diggin' For Gold!

Digging potatoes for the first time feels like you are uncovering buried treasure, especially for kids. Even more so when you plant "Yukon Gold" potatoes. This is the first year we've planted potatoes and it was very successful. In our garden as a kid, digging potatoes was hard work because they were planted in our hard Kentucky clay soil. I read on some other blogs in May about growing potatoes in barrels or in a stack of tires to make harvesting easier. I didn't do either, but I used the spirit of the idea.

I started with only 10 seed potatoes, cut them in half and planted the 20 pieces in a 4 foot by 5 foot section of one of my beds. The compost pile was in that spot the previous year, so the soil was great. As the plants grew, I kept adding good dirt and added a 2nd and 3rd landscape timber layer making the bed even more raised. I had planned to keep getting higher and higher like you would growing them in tires, but I ran out of good soil. The plants make potato tubers all along what once was the stem of the plant if you keep burying the stem. When it came time to harvest, it was easy to get a shovel in and under the potatoes. A few times we harvested them small to add to a roast or something. When we did this we could just reach our hand down in the dirt and find a potato without disturbing the plant. Good loose soil is key! For the rest of the plants, we waited until the tops died back and the potatoes were pretty good size. We got several big bowls full of potatoes in just a small amount of space. Look at the potato in the picture below next to the quarter as reference:

I definitely recommend the barrel or tire method. If any of you have written about this or know someone who has, please let me know and I will link to it.

Next year I will grow a lot more potatoes so we can dig for more gold! The flavor of Yukon Gold is excellent too. They are a yellow color even after they are cooked. I bought mine from PineTree Garden Seeds, which is my favorite seed company. They also have "Red Gold" potatoes if you want to stay in the pirate theme!


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