The flowers are dwindling, the berries are forming and the potatoes are just about ready. A lot can happen in one week at the farm. Greg and I, somewhat spontaneously, decided to take a vacation this past week. Backcountry camping, climbing ridges, canoeing, swimming, fishing and lazing around on the beach in the Kootenays were some of our most favorite activities. It was much needed time away from the usual hustle and bustle of the city, work and even farm.
On the way out and on the way back into the big smoke we stopped in at the farm in Abby to check in on the taters and all the other morsels of goodness growing on our plot. Its always so exciting as we hop, skip and jump to the plot to discover what has changed, grown, flowered or been devoured by deer and rabbits. We dug up a few rows to see what kind of yield the potato plants were producing and if it was comparable to my estimates. Although there are some variations according to the type of potato (because of their growth rate differences) and their environmental conditions (heavy clay spot or not) I was able to get a rough idea of what my final yield will be and it looks good! In fact, it is better than what I imagined.
I was quite conservative in my estimation based on the soil quality and it being my first time growing potatoes on a large scale, and assumed a 6:1 yield. Six pounds of potato for every one pound of seed. The Yukon Golds, Red Cheiftains, and Sieglindes seem to be producing an average 10:1 ratio. This isn’t an uncommon amount, but I guess I thought sandy-loamy soils were the assumption in such a ratio. The Russian Blues are probably the hardiest looking potatoes, but they haven’t produced as many tubers as their cousins with about a 7:1 yield.
They’re a decent size right now with many different sizes, shapes and quirks—a result of uneven soil conditions. Most of them are about the size of my fist or slightly larger. Right now they’re considered “Second earlies” (just passed the “first earlies phase”), because they are in the 90 to 120 day growth window. First earlies are somewhere in between the 60 to 90 day growth window. The main crop, which CSA members will receive are usually around 120 plus days. That means my main crop potatoes will be ready in September.
If I didn’t work full-time I would have loved to pick a bunch of earlies to sell, but unfortunately time just hasn’t permitted. Therefore this week, I will be chopping off all the tops of the plants to prepare the tubers for long-term storage. They won’t be getting any more water, unless Mother Nature decides to rain on them. This process is essentially curing the potatoes so that their skins permit them to protect the lovely starchy, nutritional goodness inside.
I’m looking for a hefty team of volunteers to help in the September harvest! We’re looking for approximately 10-15 people to help out over a weekend. I have to say, there is nothing quite like uncovering beautiful red, yellow and blue potatoes from the earth. The Red chieftains especially glitter in the sunlight. Digging up Yukon Golds is like digging up a long lost golden treasure and the Russian Blues bring me back to a time of innocence and happiness hunting for giant purple and blue Easter eggs. You will be reimbursed with earth apple goodness. EAF members are especially encouraged to attend! Let me know if you’re interested and what your weekend schedule is like in late August or September.