A couple of weeks ago a party of four took on the task of hilling the potatoes. It was really great to have some helping hands, because it was a big job! However, after comparing blisters and doing a few stretches to ease the pain, it was still less intense than I expected, as we were out of there, well before sundown.
If you haven’t heard of hilling or mounding—it is simply the process of pulling up soil from around the potato plant to form a mound or small hill. This serves a number of purposes: 1. It removes surrounding and competing weeds, 2. It makes more room for the plant to produce tubers (since they’re all produced above the seed potato), and 3. It keeps them from UV exposure. You don’t want your taters exposed to the sun or they’ll develop poisonous solanine and turn green on you.
I’ve learned a few things about following the master plan throughout this process. You can make a plan, but it is the veggies that drive the actual chain of events. I thought I’d be hilling the potatoes 2-3 times before the flowers emerged, but it seems as though within one week, 2 of the 4 plant varieties shot up out of the ground and were ready for action. We pretty much had to hill the plants all in one shot, instead of 2-3 inches at a time. The two fastest growing varieties included the Sieglinde and the Russian Blues. The Yukon Golds and Red Chieftains were a little on the smaller side and therefore could be hilled at a slightly slower pace.
I have a few guesses that might explain why the fast growth. The first is to give credit to the process of chitting. Letting the seed potatoes produce sprouts and then exposing them to uv might have kick-started them in a much bigger way than I realized. Another reason could have to do with Steve Solomon’s amazing fertilizer mix, which is pricier and more complicated than cow manure, but perhaps well worth it. And finally, the weather- could it be that this cool summer we’re having is actually good for the potato farm?
At this point though, they’re all done growing and have begun producing flowers and thus tubers. Well, all but the Yukon Gold. These ones are producing tubers, but no flowers yet. In fact, the one plant I pulled had the largest tubers of all of them.
Yay new potatoes! Here are a couple of recipes I learned about recently on CBC’s BC Almanac and the other on Treehugger that sound super scrumptious. I’ve also posted them on the recipe page. Both these recipes also happen to be vegan (minus the halibut) for all my veggie comrades. Get ready for earth apple mania!