I went the majority of this summer without owning a scale to weigh myself. The reason being, my scale broke and I was too lazy to buy a new one. That’s why I didn’t know if I weighed enough to give blood, which resulted in an episode where I ended up covered in ice packs and almost pooping my pants.
I wasn’t terribly worried about not owning a scale because a) I exercise a LOT in the summer b) If my jeans don’t fit I know I need to watch my potato chip intake and c) I had bigger, more important things on my mind like which flavour of ice cream I should make next in my brand new ice cream maker.
But when potato harvesting season came around I had to get a scale because I needed to weigh my potatoes. So I did my requisite, I prefer to overthink things, research, and ordered the least expensive, highest rated digital scale off of Amazon and hopped on it with my massive potato harvest. For the second time this summer I nearly shit my pants.
I grew almost 100 pounds of potatoes this summer. And 6 pounds of back and boob fat. This at a time of year when I normally lose weight. I blame the pizza oven. And the world’s greatest ice cream maker. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy an ice cream maker with a built in compressor. It makes making ice cream tooooo easy. Don’t do it, it’s a bad f*cking idea from every direction. Mostly from behind.
So these potatoes I grew aren’t going to help this situation one bit unless I stuff them into burlap bags and drag them behind me all day long.
Instead I have other plans for them.
Potato Pancakes with Chili Sauce
Potato salad, scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, and more.
I have somewhat of an unhealthy relationship with potatoes. And more recently Rocky Road ice cream.
Because of my spud love, every year when I plan my garden I give the most amount of space to potatoes.
This year 2, 16′ long, 3.5′ wide beds were devoted to potatoes, plus another partial bed. They store well, I like to have a variety of … varieties … and I never want to run out of them.
This year I grew most of my favourites and a new red variety. Then I weighed them all to see if any of the varieties grew substantially more per plant than any of the others. I wanted to know which potato gave more bang for the back fat.
And I did it all with my spuddy buddy at my side the whole time.
The first bed I dug up housed my Russian Blue potatoes. I’ve grown a fair amount of purple potatoes but I always come back to the Russian Blue. It’s darker purple than any others and not only has purple skin, but is deep, dark purple on the inside. Even better, the purple colour doesn’t disappear after cooking like other purple varieties.
Purple potatoes have 4 times as many antioxidants in them as a regular potato. They have a slightly, SLIGHTLY (I felt like I needed to scream that) different flavour than a regular potato. They’re just more earthy tasting.
9 plants = 10 lbs of Russian Blue potatoes
The next bed I dug up belonged to the Russet Burbank potatoes.
Russets are the potato you want for baking. They’re also great for french fries and mashed potatoes.
Russets keep well and they’re kind of the King of the potato world based on their wide variety of uses and availability.
25 plants = 27 lbs of Russet Burbank potatoes
By now I was tired and seriously reconsidering my potato plantings. Onto the Yukon Gold
Yukon Golds are a yellow fleshed multi-use potato with a creamy texture. I lost quite a few this year to rotting in the ground.
9 plants = 6 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes boooooooooo.
In the same bed were my favourite potato, the Kennebec.
Why would this be my favourite potato? Because it’s widely known (among potato geeks) as the world’s best french fry potato. They’re almost always perfectly oval without weird dings or dents, they grow large, have enough sugars to give a golden brown colour when fried and have a thin skin so you can cook ’em up with the skin on. They taste potatoey, have high yields and hold together even when you overcook them. They’re brilliant.
22 plants = 30 lbs of Kennebec potatoes
My final harvest of the day were my red potatoes which are … and I’m sure you know this already … the friendliest of all the potato varieties. While russets creep around underground, deep and directionless, red potatoes have a tendency to grow very close to the main plant and close together just waiting to burst their faces through the soil to greet you. They also seem to have stronger roots attaching them to the main plant so if your soil is loose you can pull the entire plant up with all of the potatoes still attached.
I changed things up this year and instead of growing Chieftain Red, I grew Red Pontiac. Red Pontiac’s are larger than Chieftains and quite round.
9 plants = 14 lbs of Red Pontiac potatoes
SOME POTATO HINTS AND TIPS
- Red potatoes are the BEST potato you can use for potato salad. They hold their shape when boiled.
- They’re also excellent potatoes for getting a crunch on during roasting.
- The best conditions for storing potatoes long term is 40 degrees with 80-90% humidity.
These were also the potatoes that gave me the biggest harvest per plant.
Potato Harvest Size based on variety.
Red Pontiac came in first with around 1.5 pounds of potato per plant.
Kennebec came in second with 1.4 pounds of potato per plant.
Russet potatoes produced just over 1 pound of potatoes per plant.
Russian Blue potatoes got me just over 1 pound per plant.
Yukon Golds yielded a sad 0.7 pounds per plant (due to rotting issues)
Those are really low yields all around so next year I’m going to try planting less seed potatoes, further apart. I know it doesn’t make sense. You think you should plant MORE things closer together to get a bigger harvest but with a lot of plants, sweet potatoes included, the greater the distance between plants the larger the harvest will be.
- Kennebec is the choice potato for restaurants who are serious about their french fries.
- Most supermarkets don’t carry Kennebec potatoes, but most the seed potatoes are popular and easy to get.
- In-N-Out Burger uses Kennebec potatoes for their french fries.
- Russet potatoes are going to give you baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes and boiled potatoes. Just don’t use them for potato salad unless you like a slightly mashed potato salad. (which I actually do)
- Russet Burbank is among the longest storing potatoes with a 6 month shelf life if kept in proper conditions.
After digging up potatoes, you need to cure them. Curing is what’ll toughen them up. Like if you had a home schooled kid and then you sent them to a really, really dicey public school and you made them bring avocados and quinoa for lunch for a month? That’s kind of toughening up the potatoes get after 2 weeks of curing.
After 2 weeks in darkness at 60 degrees Fahrenheit with as close to 90% humidity as you can get, the potatoes will be cured. Of what I’m not sure.
Cured potatoes will heal over any cuts, have tougher skins and be ready to store for up to 6 months.
If you just plan on dragging your potatoes around behind you in a burlap sack … curing is not necessary.