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Plugging Away at the Potatoes

September 26, 2013

You can’t grow a high calorie crop like potatoes and not experience some work along the way.

I heart potatoes

I heart potatoes

First you plant.

Trusty tools - hoe and gloves

Trusty tools – hoe and gloves

Then you hill the plants with soil to keep the root zone cool and give the potatoes a place to form along the stems.  Then you wait and hill some more.

Along the way you rob some of the hills for new potatoes, Or dig some too to see how the new varieties are faring.

Finally when the vines die back you wait a bit so the potatoes can cure and toughen up their skins for long-term storage and then you start harvesting.

Purple Viking

Purple Viking

This might be a good time to mention that we trade work here on the farmstead.  My hubby and I are lone wolves, and of course, our get is a lone wolf too.  Lately I have not been churning any butter because my daughter is doing all the churning in lieu of vacuuming.  Now I think that is a fair trade and so does she, so that’s how it goes.  She opted to stack all the roof shakes too after she was done with all the  nail pulling, and transport the kindling to the kindling stack in order to get out of digging potatoes.  Seemed fair to me.  Big jobs loom differently in different minds.  Things have a way of working out too, one night her dad came home from work and took pity on her and helped her.  So she took pity on me and helped me haul in a few wheelbarrow loads of potatoes before the rains hit.

Cedar Shakes

Cedar Shakes

So to that end, I have been digging the potatoes by myself, and while I enjoyed previous years of digging with a partner, I like being by myself, working at my own pace.  I learned long ago, not to dig more each day than I want to transport to the barn in one evening.  The weather beat me though, I have 1 1/2 rows yet to dig, but I have the bulk done.  It’s too wet to dig those last rows right now, or I risk ruining my soil structure.

Now the job is to size, look for bad ones, and weigh for storage.  Once I am done I will have more solid figures on my potato production this growing season.

Fairbanks Morse platform scale

Fairbanks Morse platform scale

There is just something about seeing all those potatoes that brings on thoughts of winter meals (besides having a fire every night now), and me having the time to cook them since it is getting dark soooo early.  For dinner last night I made a flank steak roulade stuffed with kale, chard, celeriac, carrots and onion with smashed potatoes and milk gravy on the side.  I know that sounds like some fancy meal, but it cooks fast (the vegetable prep takes longer), and was a nice change of pace from all that pesky summer food we’ve been eating.

How about you, have you made the transition to cooler weather type meals yet?

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Bev permalink
    September 26, 2013 8:17 am

    Beautiful potatoes. Yes I cooked our first pot roast of the season. So good with vergies we have grown. With the exception of parsnips. Do you grow parsnips? Not sure why I have never tried them. This time of year we find that we are getting tired of the garden. Then laugh because we are already thinking of next year’s list.
    We have had the wood stove stoked up the last few days. Cold this a.m.

    • September 26, 2013 8:25 am

      Bev, that sounds good – I’ve been thinking of stew lately too! Although last night we had pullet egg omelets with tomatoes and roasted potato salad. That was kind of a transition dinner but the pullets are pumping out the eggs.

      I do grow parsnips – 300 row feet for Jane – parsnips are one of those vegetables that I just don’t really care for. I think my mom ruined me on that cooking them with brown sugar, too sweet for me. I am tired of the garden too, and the processing. I think I have one picking of tomatoes and peppers to do and then that is it for those crops and I can move onto thinking about more root vegetables. Nippy here this morning too, but still warm enough I am not remembering where I set my gloves or vest down the day before. Pretty soon it’ll be cold enough I will remember!

  2. September 26, 2013 9:05 am

    Chicken soup on the stove night before last. Not a light weight chicken soup…a hearty winter one.

    Couple of fires in the stove…mostly just to remind us how much practice we need lighting it in the morning.

  3. September 26, 2013 10:04 am

    What a fantastic crop, you really are such a hard worker. Fires already? We are in the 80’s today. Though i am sure it is not going to hold out for much longer i am happily fire and winter fare free. We are eating the fall lettuce though.. as fast as i can!! I need to get to work and very quickly build a cloche to go over the top of that bed it is doing so well.. Oh dear the farm stewards comment has reminded me i have to get up and clean out the chimney.. sigh.. c

  4. Bee permalink
    September 26, 2013 10:34 am

    Yep, roast leg of lamb the other night, although I had sauteed summer squash to go with it; sort of a transition meal, I guess… 38 degrees this morning, just missed a frost, thank goodness, as my tomatoes and peppers aren’t done yet.

    • September 26, 2013 1:15 pm

      Bee, that’s sound yummy! Brrr, we haven’t got that cold yet thank heavens, I still have some tender stuff I need to get in 😦

      Speaking of transition, I’m eating a tomato sandwich right now, once they’re gone it’ll be a long time before I get to taste that!

  5. September 26, 2013 12:29 pm

    My husband said only last night that we will be eating Summer meals very shortly. It is very hot here in NSW, Australia and it’s only supposed to be Spring! We really need some rain. When he got home from work yesterday he was out in the potato patch hilling up those potatoes. It looks like you had a great harvest:)

    • September 26, 2013 1:17 pm

      Melissa, I love hearing about gardening just getting started in Oz right now, I can sit inside and read about a warm clime while plotting next year’s garden 🙂

      We did have a great potato harvest and I am sending you some rain!!

  6. Jenny permalink
    September 26, 2013 1:15 pm

    I’m making chili and cornbread for supper tonight. It’s been cold and rainy here the last couple days, and my boyfriend works outside. I bet he’ll appreciate something nice and warm to come home to.

    Parsnips cooked with brown sugar sound pretty awful to me, but I can’t make a beef stew without adding some parsnips. I usually fry them in bacon grease for a little while before adding them, and a few usually get eaten before they hit the stew pot too.

  7. September 26, 2013 2:34 pm

    I made potato-cheese soup and a side of acorn squash halves. Yummy. But our real fall/winter meals will start when we get the side of beef we bought from our neighbor in the freezer, in about two weeks.

  8. September 26, 2013 5:19 pm

    Soup using our home raised pork and lots of veggies from the garden. Corn, green beans, tomatoes, and yep…potatoes. I’m also digging most of the potatoes myself this year. We planted 200# this year. Still a lot to dig and we’ve been having just enough rain to keep the ground soggy. The potatoes are really nice this year.

  9. Chris permalink
    September 28, 2013 8:16 am

    Can we have that recipe for your stuffed flank steak! 🙂

  10. Ben permalink
    September 28, 2013 10:18 am

    The other night it was salad with roasted beets, cheesy polenta, braised kale, and absolutely terrific heirloom beans (dry, which did so much better this year). Our goal was to grow all our own beans for the year, which I think we succeeded, not sure how much we’ll go through but they are so incredibly good we may go through more than usual (its hard to believe I’d be getting excited about beans!).

    • September 28, 2013 11:32 am

      Ben, sounds delicious! This was some year – I fully expected to freeze and can some of my “dry” beans instead of fretting about them drying – and they all dried right on the bush! I didn’t expect that all. Beans are pretty exciting 🙂

  11. September 28, 2013 3:17 pm

    Love your post and beautiful pictures! I’m hoping to grow some potatoes next year!

  12. September 28, 2013 9:53 pm

    What lovely meals everyone is cooking. I’ve been running around and living on fast food, and am quite tired of that. Two nearly hour-long trips to the hospital; first to spend several hours with brother and sister in law, during labor of their first baby, then back to visit said baby (tremendously exciting!), plus 2 1/2 hours at the dmv to renew license, and too long running around getting the shopping done — then worked most of today at the local preparedness fair. All good stuff, but I’m tired and looking forward to some quiet home time tomorrow. Did manage to make a cheese & tomato pie tonight for husband; one of his favorites. Grapes must be juiced and canned tomorrow, before we lose them all to this wild wind and rain storm, and I want to bake bread. And pick the green tomatoes, and set them to brine.

  13. September 29, 2013 2:56 pm

    With my daughters both catching fall colds, I’ve made soup and more soup this week, and it has tasted good with homemade bread. Garlic piperade soup and chili soup, both full of tomatoes and peppers and onions and garlic from the garden. Good stuff, and nobody complained about having soup every night this week. 🙂

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