I Grew Something Very Special.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it all happened naturally or easily.  It never does for a woman my age.  Yes.

I’m going there.

Several months ago the seed was planted, fertilized and grew as they say (such a gross term).  I’m sorry I didn’t talk about this sooner, but there was always the chance that something would go wrong and I just didn’t want to get into a situation where I had grieve publicly.

Now, however, we’re definitely past the danger zone and  I am proud to present to you my best kept secret of the year. My bundle of joy.

1.1 lbs, 5 month gestation, 2 minute delivery. I named him Chip.

I accidentally grew 150 pound of potatoes.

I don’t know if it was the fertilizing with compost or the automatic watering system, but whatever it was I’ve never produced such a big crop from so little seed.

Did you hear about that Karen?  She grew 150 pounds of potatoes.  For herself.  Why would she do something like that do you think???

Karen? Down the street?  Oh, well, she’s not in her right mind.  She named one of her potatoes Chip, called it her baby and then she ate it.

The gossip is all true of course.

This year on The Art of Doing Stuff we’re going to learn whether I can eat more than my weight in potatoes within a 5 month period.  Or possibly 2 weeks depending on how fast I can peel.

As a gardener I try to grow things I like and things that I can store throughout the winter. If they can be swaddled, all the better.  Squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and of course … potatoes.  Why so many? It’s not as crazy as it seems. Not for a potato lover anyway.

For french fries I need my Kennebecs. For a multipurpose potato, you need Russets. Perfect potato salad requires nothing less than the stellar red potato Chieftain and any health conscious potato lover will tell you the purple varieties like Peruvian Purple have the most health benefits.  Plus you aren’t a real maniacal potato lover if you don’t have a section of your garden devoted to buttery yellow fingerlings like Austrian Crescent. I mean seriously.  Plus there’s your rare heritage varieties like Amarosa, Pink Fir, and those weird little ones with warts all over them.


How to Grow Potatoes

My growing method is different than traditional potato growing. I don’t hill them or add any soil after planting them.

  1. Add 1-2″ of compost on bed in fall or spring.
  2. Push a 2″x2″ wood stake into the soil down around 8″-10″ and drop a potato into the hole.
  3. Fill the hole about halfway.
  4. When potatoes greens start to grow, use a rake to completely fill in holes.
  5. Wait.
  6. Harvest potatoes.

Austrian Crescent Potato

So. Not so crazy after all.

This is so stupid. I’m not even convincing  myself.

The Austrian Crescents are dainty little fingerling potatoes that get my vote because unlike some fingerling potatoes, these stayed the size of fingerlings no matter how long I left them in the ground.  I don’t know if the buttery colour just fools my simple brain into thinking they actually taste buttery, but they do.

 

Peruvian Purple Potatoes

Or they could be Russian Blue. I’m not really sure.  Some years I grow purple potatoes and the inside is completely dark purple, and other years they’re like this …

… sort of feathery.  The size doesn’t matter. Whether they’re big or small they’re like this.   I thought I planted Russian Blue which I’ve had better luck with but these are looking mighty Peruvian Purple to me.

Like a crispy fried potato?

PURPLE SKINNED POTATOES GET CRISPIER THAN REGULAR POTATOES.

Chieftain

Red potatoes really are the best for potato salad. They don’t fall apart completely when they’re cooked so they’ll hold their shape. I don’t exclusively use red potatoes for potato salad because that would be predictable and I’m nothing of the sort.*

*please see first photo of my swaddling a potato baby.

That’s scab on my red potatoes by the way.  It’s just cosmetic.  You know, like a scab.

Russet Burbank

These are the workhorses of the potato loving kitchen.  Good for fries, baked, mashed, gnocchi, potato guns and more.

 

Bundle. Of. Joy.

Then you have your classic yellow fleshed potatoes, the Yukon Gold another nice multipurpose with a light yellow flesh. You can see the difference between the interior of a Russet and a Yukon Gold below.

 

Again, I’m really not sure how this happened or what I’m going to do with them all. So far I’ve eaten french fries, potato pancakes, roasted potatoes, made gnocchi and looked up how to distill potatoes into vodka.

 

Oh! And I registered for shower presents of course.  I’ve got a nice stroller selected if you’re looking for something to get me. Maybe you could all go in on it together – it’s not cheap.

It may seem weird but I’m going to walk my potatoes around the neighbourhood in a stroller because it’s harder than you’d think to strap them into a car seat.
 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

Russians, Reds, Austrian and American.  Over 150 pounds and several varieties of potatoes, each with a very specific purpose.  Why this woman (and any potato lover) should never grow just one.

75 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    Nice spuds!

    Wish I had a photo of a carrot I grew a few years ago. It was the size of my forearm.

  2. Barb says:

    Nice, at least labour was probably pain free! Well at least Chip won’t need diapering or midnight feedings! 😛

  3. Bev out west says:

    Russets for the potato gun! Love it. Have you tried launching one at night, with a glo-stick in it?

  4. DW says:

    Congratulations are in order! I hope and trust that the labor to produce your … your… uh, bundles of joy? Was not too onerous, or long. And may you have joy in your progeny!
    I, uh, and forgive my breach of etiquette, wonder… about the resemblance. They do not appear to resemble you that much. In anycase, enjoy! And now you can say, truthfully, I LOVE kids! Roasted, with salt and a touch of shallots and pepper…

  5. Barbara L Leonard says:

    Love your sense of humor! It makes the world a better place. As well as all those yummy carbs!!!

  6. Leah says:

    Those Austrian Crescents look amazing! Reminds me of the delicious potatoes I enjoyed in Europe.

    Where do you find seedlings for them?

    • Karen says:

      These were a gift from my friend Stephanie who had them left over. She apparently thought she was planting enough potatoes for Armageddon in her first vegetable garden. I think she got them from William Dam Seeds though. ~karen!

  7. One question, who is the father, “Mr. Potato Head?” 😉

  8. Robert says:

    They are absolutely beautiful!
    Although I never thought of you as a cannibalistic mother; seriously adorable

  9. Tina says:

    Great potatoes! Congrats on your bundles of joy!

    When I was a kid, one of my parents’ friends brought some “Finnish Gold” potatoes from their annual trip to Finland. For years my mother judiciously cared for them. They were more golden colored than our normal russets, and very buttery tasting.

    Potatoes 🥔 in full sun and heat or part shade? I’m going to try some next year.

  10. Teri on the left coast says:

    How do you store your bounty?
    When I was a kid we grew enough potatoes to feed us all winter plus provide our own seed in spring. Irish roots.
    We kept them in a root cellar and it was my job to go and get them every night for dinner. I trace my fear of cobwebs to that period of my life.
    I’m hoping you have a better storage method.

    • Karen says:

      All root vegetable storage takes place in my mudroom, which is unheated. I keep a space heater in there to maintain a temperature above freezing all winter. ~ karen!

  11. MrsChrisSA says:

    Congratulations – Is the daddy Irish? I am sure there is a bit of Irish in you too!
    What a wonderful haul of a great variety (half of which I did not even know existed!).

  12. Sachi says:

    Karen, staaaahp! You are ridiculous! <3 :'D

  13. Vicky Evans says:

    Karen, I’m sure you hear this all the time but you are the bomb. I like a woman with strong opinions that is willing to work hard & get her hands dirty… & swear, gotta be good at that. I like your sense of humor but I like it more that you are willing to do anything & you handle your own business. I am from Idaho, the land of the Russet Burbank. We grow lots of others kinds of potatos here too so I love all varieties. You picked the best ones. Keep being you. You are an inspiration.

  14. Jo Foster says:

    If you end up not being able tò store them all …. where i live (Southwestern Ontario) they have a “Grow a Row” program where they encourage gardeners to donate fresh produce at the local food bank. I am sure they would have a similar program in your area and would enjoy your extras. … just a Suggestion.

  15. Paula says:

    Awesome potato harvest – congrats! The auto watering did wonders, I am sure of it; I grew lots but not too many big ones due to the drought (I think).

  16. Cathy says:

    Oooh, yea, vodka! From there you can whip up your own vanilla!
    We’re in the cycle when pure vanilla costs a kidney so you could even sell it along side your maple syrup.

  17. Marna says:

    Wow, I’m jealous! Congrats on such a great haul! Yum! 🙂

  18. Carrie says:

    I’m soon jealous Karen!! Good for you!
    So, you shove the 2″ by 2″ into the ground to make the hole and then drop in the potato? Did you do this once per variety?
    I know what I’m trying next year.
    My hips don’t need the extra carbs but you only live once.
    That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!👍👍

  19. Beth W says:

    I would have enjoyed a running commentary from a 90 year old neighbour lady who sits at her window and watches your regular adventures in the plot. I wonder how long it would have taken her to remark on the absurdity and talk about the potato famine of Ireland. Congrats Karen on your bundle of joy!

  20. Leslie from Hampton says:

    Wow Karen that is simply amazing! What a great variety!!

  21. cottage 99.99 says:

    The most hilarious birth announcement ever.

  22. Carla says:

    I just LOVE your sarcastic humor. I am an avid flower gardener and on disability at middle age (56) and so I also subscribe for the many money saving tips. Your attitude and ability to make fun of yourself keeps me coming back. Thank you for the smiles, laughs, and joy you bring to me Karen! 🙏🏻❤️

  23. Julie says:

    That’s one gorgeous potato! (Not to take away from the other beauties). We didn’t grown any this year on purpose but a few “bonus” potatoes sprung up from the ones we missed.

  24. Mary W says:

    You nailed the motherly expression on your picture perfectly. I would have thrown the scabbing taters away, but you know for a fact they are edible? I grew potatoes down here in Florida under 8″ of hay instead of dirt and had a whopping success and they taste so different from too young to be picked, sprayed to prevent growth during storage, and store bought. Congrats on your haul and wishing you many lovely nights of carb-ration! Those lavender blues are gorgeous! I have no ideas on storage – we just ate them every night until gone. Wonder if once mashed, buttered and otherwise doctored up and ready to eat you could freeze individual helpings? I’m going to try it since I could make a big batch then since it’s only me, enjoy them for a couple weeks.

    • Karen says:

      Cooked potatoes do freeze, but they don’t freeze especially well. Their texture tends to go weird and watery but I freeze stew sometimes and I don’t find it noticable then. And yes I know for a fact that potato scab is completely edible. It’s just ugly. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Carol says:

        Great crop! Re: scab. I’ve always read where adding too fresh manure to your potato patch will cause scab. I can’t imagine compost doing that though.

  25. Very nice harvest! Do you loosen the soil before you plant? And how will you store them and what varieties store the best for you? This year I planted my potatoes in bins so I wouldn’t have to dig them but I wasn’t happy with the harvest. I am always planning for next year

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela. I do not loosen the soil before planting. I try to touch my soil as little as possible. The less you mess with it, the better the soil structure becomes making it more and more friable over the years. I store them in ventilated wood crates (the waxed cardboard boxes from grocery stores would work well) in a cool, dark room. ~ karen!

  26. Sandy Zelinsky says:

    Congrats!! Where do I send my $20 contribution for the stroller? And how do I sign the card.
    There will be a card, right? So happy for you. Enjoy your hard labour…tee hee.

  27. Sandy Zelinsky says:

    Congrats!! Where do I send my $20 contribution for the stroller? And how do I sign the card.
    There will be a card, right? So happy for you. Enjoy the fruits, or should I say vegetables of your hard labour…tee hee.

  28. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Those purple potatoes are beautiful!

  29. Heather says:

    Well done! Will look forward to recipes. I got a dozen paltry potatoes from my garden. The bugs feasted; I’m pretty sure they’re establishing subdivisions in my garden in preparation for next year.

  30. Joe says:

    Congrats Karen! On the article I mean, very well written.
    Btw just a tip, in Holland you can only grow potatoes in the same spot once every seven years, guess growing them takes a lot out of the soil. The Dutch are the premier gardeners of the world. Just saying.

    Have a lovely
    Joe

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Joe! There’s a few different theories on that actually. I follow a world renowned vegetable gardener who does not rotate his crops at all. Ever. He makes sure to feed the soil every fall or spring with loads of compost, doesn’t disturb the soil and it all works out. Of course if you get a disease on one of your crops it is definitely better to rotate after that I would think. ~ karen!

      • Joe says:

        That could be very well true. Only way to know i presume is to do a test plot or have a soil test done very year. An interesting suggestion would be to a email Robert Pavlis. Robert is a bio chemist, lives in Guelph On. He also has a blog and website called Garden Myths where he often writes about different topics verified with scientific data. http://www.gardenmyths.com .He also has 5 acres of private gardens called Aspen Gardens which you can tour for a small fee (no vintage train though). Saved me a ton of money, time and work. Love his work even though he is not as funny as you.

        • Karen says:

          Interesting! I’ll have a look at his site. Gardening is FULL of myths and people repeating those myths generation after generation. I’m on year 3 of my potatoes being in the same plots and so far there hasn’t been any problem. ~ karen!

  31. Diane says:

    Ha, ha, ha…you did it again…had me laughing out loud…thank you.

  32. Kristen says:

    That was HILARIOUS!!! The picture, the intro, you had me totally hooked. 😂 Enjoy eating your babies this winter, crazy lady!!

  33. jaine kunst says:

    LOL!! You are definitely crazy and very good at growing potatoes!

  34. Trish Kinnee says:

    Talk about laughing so hard you cry! I’m glad I read this in the morning! I’ll be giggling about it all day and no one will have a clue!
    Congratulations on that super harvest.

  35. Leslie Barnard says:

    PLEASE make vodka!!! Then invite your mom and sisters over for a tasting. I can’t wait to hear about it!!!

  36. You are just so damn funny! I can’t wait for your emails. I get a fresh cuppa and sit down for a visit from Karen! Makes my day. BTW, that is a great potato haul. I wish I could still grow my garden. I live vicariously through you! lol

  37. shoshana leeder says:

    I must say I’M impressed! I tried canning the “C” size I must say I wasn’t impressed. They tasted weird. Just sayin…

  38. Dr. James McCleary says:

    Where do you get the seed potatoes.
    Really interesting article presentation
    entertaining also

  39. Angie says:

    I planted some potatoes in our community garden plot and when I sent my husband down to harvest them I get a phone call from him double checking the plot number and where I planted because there were no potatoes (or even dead plants) in the bed. Someone took them. Husband dug all through the bed and only found part of one that had been sliced with a shovel! No potato babies for me this year. I hope Chip was delicious.

  40. Jody says:

    You don’t need a stroller…. Drive around neighbourhoods ringing a bell. Everyone will think it’s the Yummy truck but in fact it will be Karen’s Chip Wagon. On the menu, fries, gnocchi, , and the special smashed POTatoes.

  41. Sandra D says:

    Have you ever canned your small potatoes? My dad did one year and they were so much better than the store bought canned potatoes.

    As for scab, I’ve stopped growing potatoes because they ALL got it (plus maggots). Same as my radishes and turnips. Blech.

  42. Barb Rhodes says:

    I’ m ALMOST tempted to try potatoes next year. Although potatoes should not be purple. ever. Just sayin’.
    A trick similar to your 2×2 for planting is using a short piece of PVC pipe to make holes for leeks. Then drop those teensy tiny little seedlings in. Waaaay easier than digging a trench, which is never deep enough, and having to mound up soil and making a mess, something I find extraordinarily easy to do. ( making a mess, that is. I’m pretty good at mounding soil.)

  43. lynn says:

    haha I read your intro and started to laugh. I new you had a good one coming so I went an got a coffee on the go, an contemplated what Direction you might be going with such a intro.
    I had 2 thoughts as my coffee was brewing. 1 you got more chicks ( didn’t seem feasible for time of year) so tossed that idea. 2 you had a bumper crop of Sweet Potatoes…. as I know you do plant them.
    I was kinda correct in that it was a potato variety just not the Sweet Potato variety.
    You are lucky you have a area you can use for cold storage, I have tried different area’s in my basement as we don’t have a mud room . 🙁 all places in basement have failed :(.
    As a result I have stopped planting potato as i always seemed to be giving 95% away, and I have gotten too old to dig them all up to give away. :(. Plus I have shrunk my garden considerably. I plant what we can eat as it grows. I use to do a lot of hot water bath canning problem being there is so many things that need a pressure canner to do the job correctly , an I have never used one or known how to use them they scare me.
    I do know that home canning is much healthier than what you get at the store an fresher. I get lost in the information I find on the internet.
    Back to your bounty if you have not watched the Movie Sausage Party it came out in 2016 you should. it will have you rolling around on the floor laughing, an you will never pick up a vegetable again with out laughing.

  44. Christine says:

    May I ask….who is the ‘world renowned’ gardener that you follow?
    Do you have favorite websites, blogs that would be helpful for ‘newbie’ vegetable gardeners – besides yours I mean! Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Oh there’s a few, lol. The one I’m referencing there is Charles Dowding. 🙂 I also follow the teachings of Eliot Coleman among many others, but those are my main two for solid advice based on their years of experience. ~ karen!

  45. Audrey says:

    I recently bought 50 lbs of spuds for $10 — can’t pass up a deal. I don’t have a cool place to store them, so I’ve gifted some to friends and neighbours and this weekend I’m going to partially bake some and grated and freeze them for hashbrowns. Worth a try.

  46. Robert says:

    I’ve waited all summer to hear the results of this gestation! I was really intrigued with the concept of how you went about ………..oh never mind.

    Will give it a go next summer now that I know that your birthing experience had a good outcome……..but 150 pounds? Whoa baby!

    • Karen says:

      REALLY good outcome and very little effort for planting. Plus you eat them before they become teenagers so they’re no trouble later in life either. ~ karen!

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