THE POTATO HARVEST.

potato harvest results

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.

 

French Fries.

perfect french fries

 

Roasted Potatoes

roasted potatoes

 

Potato Pancakes with Chili Sauce

chili sauce the art of doing stuff

 

Potato Leek Soup

potato soup recipe the art of doing stuff

 

Gnocchi

gnocchi recipe the art of doing stuff

 

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.

 

potato harvest the art of doing stuff

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.

potato harvest the art of doing stuff

And I did it all with my spuddy buddy at my side the whole time.

potato harvest the art of doing stuffThe 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.

Russian Blue potato the art of doing stuff

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.

Harvest:

9 plants = 10 lbs of Russian Blue potatoes

The next bed I dug up belonged to the Russet Burbank potatoes.

potato harvest the art of doing stuff

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.

Harvest:

25 plants = 27 lbs of Russet Burbank potatoes

By now I was tired and seriously reconsidering my potato plantings.  Onto the Yukon Gold

potato harvest the art of doing stuff

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.

Harvest:

9 plants = 6 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes  boooooooooo.

In the same bed were my favourite potato, the Kennebec.

potato harvest the art of doing stuff

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.

Harvest:

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.

Harvest:

9 plants = 14 lbs of Red Pontiac potatoes

SOME POTATO HINTS AND TIPS

red pontiac potatoes the art of doing stuff

  • 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 potato the art of doing stuff

  • 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 burbank potato the art of doing stuff

The workhorse.

  • 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.

potato harvest the art of doing stuff

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.

Addendum

If you just plan on dragging your potatoes around behind you in a burlap sack … curing is not necessary.

 

50 Comments

  1. Kennedy says:

    I planted Russian Blue in grow bags this year and they had a 1.2 pounds yield per seed potato. I used 15 gallon bags and used 4 seed potatoes in each.

    I planted in bags this year because all my potatoes had scab last year and I wanted to see if I could avoid it by using the bags. They worked great. The Russian Blue were also the heaviest yielding of the varieties that I planted Also… they made the prettiest lavender coloured mashed potatoes.

  2. Paula says:

    I am a potato fiend! I grew Russian Blue, Russet Burbank, Kennebec and an absolutely delicious, creamy potato called Sieglinde (German butter), and Red Pontiac. I am in the same province as you, so perhaps that is why our choices are so similar because those types grow best here?

    • Paula says:

      I just checked my yields
      Russian Blue 1.5
      Russet 1.2
      Red Pontiac 2.2 (used my own seed potatoes from last year)

      Kennebec, I calculated using a pound planted per pound grown ratio.
      Kennebec 1:6 planted 11 lbs and harvested 65lbs

      Haven’t finished harvesting Seiglinde potatoes yet.

      I also planted Warba, they aren’t the best tasting but they are the earliest, so they taste wonderful when they are the first new potatoes to eat in 10 months 🙂 1:3

      • Karen says:

        I feel like I miscalculated my Red Pontiacs although I did them over and over again. I got SO many per seed potato but it doesn’t seem like it from the ratios, lol. I’m curing them now, they’ll be done in a few days then I can figure out how to store them during the last couple of warmish weeks. ~ karen!

        • Paula says:

          Red Pontiacs are fabulous growers. Mine were an experiment; I stored them in a crate in the basement and they sprouted crazy, long tentacles. I literally had to gently untangle them as they were about 2′ – 3’long. I planted 4 of these potatoes in a 40L pot and curled the ‘tentacles’ around and covered them. I got 8lbs 11oz out of that one pot!
          This fall I need to focus on storage, I haven’t had much success in that dept. I purchased some good quality burlap sacks with black cotton lining to aid with darkness. I also used wooden crates like yours and in one crate, I separated each layer with burlap and in another crate i separated the layers with newspaper. 🤞

  3. TucsonPatty says:

    I now want french fries AND ice cream! What is your ice cream maker. You will soon have a post about it, I’m sure! I’ve wanted one, but I’m afraid of the creeping scale weight and the closet that shrinks the clothes! Maybe there is potato ice cream? My big brother would try to make that. And then eat that. He will try any kind of ice cream anyone could think of! That is some harvest. I never knew the yield of a potato plant before. Had no idea.

  4. Sabina says:

    Mmmm, French Fries !!!!

  5. maggie says:

    too many ads and annoying that you cannot read story —

  6. Well, Well, Well. My new best friend is a potato grower! Ill be damned. My favorite thing to eat in this world! What a Quinkydink. I’ve learned way too much for 5:45 am so I’m going back to bed and dream about potato soup, potatoes augratin, potato pancakes and french fries. When I get up at a decent hour Im going to ask you all about those purple ones:)
    Smiling,
    Teresa

  7. Miriam says:

    Loving this post, my meagre harvest (which we don’t even plant, it occurs from our compost bin!) is about 5 potatoes! But they always taste great.
    Ha ha you had me in stitches about the kid taking avocado and quinoa for lunch!
    @ Tucsonpatty I have a recipe for potato chocolate cake, never heard of potato ice cream but it would prob be lovely and creamy!

  8. Whitney says:

    So. Dumb question, do you eat all of those potatoes before they go bad or do you end up selling/trading any? I have this weird fear that I’ll grow too much stuff and it’ll go to waste haha. Probably well founded, since I have dozens and dozens of ripe tomatoes out on my vines…

    • Karen says:

      I do manage to eat all the potatoes! (or at least most of them) As long as you cure them and keep them at a proper temperature they’ll last for months and months. Tomatoes? Those are a nightmare, lol. I press them, can them, freeze them, roast them, … and I still have an insane amount to give away. ~ karen!

      • Katie Newcomb says:

        Where do you keep them at 40 degrees? I don’t think that exists in my house. The garage temp is too variable I think…

        • Karen says:

          I have an uninsulated mudroom on the back of my house. When it gets really cold in midwinter I put a tiny space heater in there to keep it as close to 40 as I can. ~ k!

  9. Nicole Sparks says:

    Where do you cure yours? 60 degrees and 90% humidity… I’ve no idea where in my house I would find that. I didn’t know it was a thing.

    • Karen says:

      At the moment I have them in my basement which is cooler than the rest of my house, next to an outside wall. An easy way to keep them at a high humidity is to put them in a Tupperware bin with the lid on it at a bit of an angle so air can still get in and out. You have to check them and adjust the lid otherwise they could rot. ~ karen!

  10. Sondra says:

    How does one tiny blonde with more energy that Superman orbiting the earth at supersonic speed eat that many potatoes or gain weight? All that being said here is my secret to eat those potatoes and NOT gain weight!

    I too love and eat potatoes of all kinds frequently and my weight has dropped by 25 pounds since last Christmas when I decided to make the transition to a different way of eating! I became a Vegan. Fast? No, but steady. Did I lapse occasionally? Oh, Yes. Am I 100% yet? Nope, but working on it. Eat 70% of you diet in starches, grains, pulses and 30% in veggies and fruit. Eliminate or drastically reduce meat, eggs, fish, oils and dairy. Make vegan ice creams. Eat whole grain breads without worrying about calories! Becoming Vegan could be your next big challenge in life and still be able to eat a whopping ton of potatoes of all kinds plus give that ice cream maker a real workout creating new concoctions and flavors!

    • Karen says:

      hahahahahahah. Oh no. I will not be becoming a Vegan. It just isn’t for me. I literally crave red meat and my body needs it. Everyone is different. I don’t eat a ton of meat … I probably have 3 dinners a week with meat. And cheese is just not going anywhere from my life, lol. I think every body is different and you basically know based on how you feel what it is you need to consume. For me it’s a bit of everything. ~ karen!

  11. Cath says:

    Did you make the wonderful potato crates?

  12. Jen says:

    I have had good luck and really sucky luck growing potatoes, so next year (I’m already dreaming of it), I’m going to plant the ones you planted this year with success, with lots of room in between, and hope for at least 20 pounds!

  13. Karin in NC says:

    Karen, now more than ever I think we are twins Karen/Karin (even though I am probably 20 years older than you)! Potatoes are my favorite food ever. I love that you can make them so many different ways (like tacos). Your harvest is impressive. I don’t grow potatoes because my entire vegetable growing space is 4′ x 12′, but now I am thinking maybe next year I will do ALL potatoes. Most years I end up giving away 1/2 of my tomatoes anyway!

  14. Can you come live with me? That is all.

    🙂 xx

  15. Madeleine Whitfield says:

    I’m finally beginning to realize that planting pieces of organic potato that I bought at the store are probaly not the best way to get a good harvest. I had only about 3 small/medium potatoes per plant.

    • Karen says:

      It’s actually not a bad way to go about it, but the reason they sell seed potatoes is to make sure the potatoes you’re planting are 100% disease free. Many people “chit” their potatoes (cut them up) to plant. I used to, but now I don’t. ~ karen!

  16. Mary W says:

    Boy you sure study up on your favorite food! I’m very impressed but have a request. Is it possible for you to buy a small winter home/farm down here in central Florida and study up on potatoes and other foods that we grow here in the sand? I want to be your neighbor – Mr. Rogers kind of neighbor. Your pictures of potatoes, beginning with the wonderful stack of fries, is MOUTH WATERING! Actually you may get some land pretty cheap following Irma and her path.

  17. The Russian Blue look amazing! Potatoes are one of those crops I’ve never really gotten into growing since I left England but I think next year I might try growing them again…the leek and potato soup picture made me cave!

    Do you ever save seed potatoes yourself from your crop or buy new each year?

  18. Bunguin says:

    I’ve poked around, and asked the grat Wizard of Google, but not gotten a clear answer:

    Does any one know if you can ‘overwinter’ potatoes and sweet potatoes in the ground? Can I just leave them, and they regrow next spring? I don’t think they had enough time in the ground this year and if I go and dig anything up, they will be either a) nonexistent or b) very very small.

    I’m curious if I can just leave them until next year.

    • Karen says:

      It depends on where you live Bunguin and what zone you are. Sweet Potatoes shrivel and die and scream at the slightest bit of cold or frost so no to them if you’re in an area that gets such a thing. If potatoes are left in the ground they’ll absolutely sprout up next year. ~ karen!

    • Juliana says:

      I overwintered purple, red, and Yukon to surprise spring plants!

      Karen-
      I love your writing, huge fan. Do you fertilize? I grow my potatoes in junk tires, and add 10, 10, 10 to a weak yield. Fingerlings were my most successful this season!
      Your chicken coop is the shit, and you are what little girls should aspire to be!
      Thank you

      • Karen says:

        Hey Juliana! Thanks so much! Girls should always aspire to have at least one bruise and one burn on themselves at all times. And nope, I don’t fertilize. All of my beds get a topping of chicken crap compost twice a year and I call it a day. This year was just a brutal year for growing anything. ~ karen!

  19. Rosiland Ball says:

    For curing , how do you get 90% humidity?

  20. Paula says:

    Red Pontiacs are fabulous growers. Mine were an experiment; I stored them in a crate in the basement and they sprouted crazy, long tentacles. I literally had to gently untangle them as they were about 2′ – 3’long. I planted 4 of these potatoes in a 40L pot and curled the ‘tentacles’ around and covered them. I got 8lbs 11oz out of that one pot!
    This fall I need to focus on storage, I haven’t had much success in that dept. I purchased some good quality burlap sacks with black cotton lining to aid with darkness. I also used wooden crates like yours and in one crate, I separated each layer with burlap and in another crate i separated the layers with newspaper. 🤞

  21. Agnes says:

    Take heart, Karen. Don’t kick yourself too much about that low-ish yield. There may be nothing wrong with the numbers you planted! I think it was the weather, and that probably caused us that rot problem too. My yields were well less than usual. I am just a bit north of you, and I hear the same from many other growers here. This has just been such a cool, slow year, nothing is performing normally, and only my cucumbers and leeks seem to be liking it!

    • Karen says:

      Aside from noticing they needed water today (I haven’t hooked my system up to a timer because it’s so late in the season) my leeks have done great also, lol. Everything else has been lower size/yields than normal. Way lower! ~ karen

  22. Marna says:

    Wow you are amazing! I love potatoes. You have lots of great ideas for using them too! I had my best luck with potatoes when I was a kid. I can’t seem to grow that much of anything well here in Texas, I keep trying, there is no real fall or spring, just hot or cold. There is a saying here that if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change.

  23. Renee Ryz says:

    well, guess who is definitely having potatoes with dinner tonite! They are one of the main food groups, along with chocolate & ice cream you know… I made a blueberry pistachio ice cream for the hubster. He loved it!

  24. Markus says:

    Ads, what ads?
    But I have to know; are those Dovetail corners on your beds? Joinery in your gardenry ? !
    I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised

  25. I can’t remember how to do the math, but one year I weighed my seed potatoes, the weighed the harvest. That way I could see what my increase was to see what was the most productive varieties. Yukon Gold is always a winner for me, but there is one very similar called Yukon Gem that did even better. I love the Kennebec as well.

    Off topic of potatoes, but I’d really love to know how you get such great pictures with you in them. Do you have a tripod and a remote trigger? I’ve tried putting my camera on the timer, but since I don’t have something to focus on when I’m not there in front of it, they never turn out.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Melissa! I do use a tripod and a remote. You’ll have more success without a trigger if you simply put something in the shot where you know you’re going to stand. If you’re outside for instance, just stick a pitchfork in the ground and focus on that. Then start the timer, run to the spot where the pitchfork is, pull it out or stand in front of it and BAM. You’re in focus. 🙂 ~ karen!

  26. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Thanks for the info on what kinds of potatoes are best for whichever potato dish you are making…that is good info to have!

  27. SK Farm Girl says:

    Oh almighty potato guru – to hill or not to hill – that is the question!!!!! Growing up on the farm, and coming from a long-line of farmers, it was my responsibility to hill the potatoes what seemed like every-other-day as Daddy said that’s what gave good production. My fella doesn’t think it necessary to hill potatoes to enhance production. And there starts the debate in our household! Oh great potato guru please settle this debate once and for all!

    • Karen says:

      I talked about this in the post, lol. Didn’t I? I feel like I did but can’t be bothered to go back and look. So, I’ve never found that hilling makes much of a difference. Not for the amount of work it is. I’ve tried it both ways. This year I did no hilling and got around 100 pounds of potatoes from 2, 3.5″ x 16 foot beds plus a tiny bit of another bed. ~ karen!

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