Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Dilly-Emma

I have a dilemma that I wonder if any of you can help with.

We still haven't harvested our potato crop because the weather has stayed relatively warm (no killing frost yet) and our storage area for the potatoes is also remaining warmer than we'd like to have it.

We've been "stealing" potatoes from the garden as we need them. They've been bigger than usual, heavy, solid, crisp, and very flavorful. (Hip-hip-hooray!)

The problem? About one-fourth (maybe a little less than that) of the ones we've dug so far have holes in them.

And in these holes are very small worms about 1/4" long and thin, white/beige in color and they've very obviously been happily dining on the potatoes.

When we bring in a batch of freshly dug spuds, I sort the perfect (no holes/no worms) ones from those with holes in them. The perfect ones get stored in the spare refrig and the holey ones I leave out on the counter and try to use up right away . . . after cutting out the bad spots, of course.

I've been encouraging hubby to help me dig up all the potatoes because . . . well, I just want to get all outside work done and buttoned up for the winter so I can get back to doing some QUILTING! (Yes, I am becoming increasingly cranky because I've been out of my quilt studio for so long.)

The dilly-emma: When we store the potatoes, what the heck am I gonna do with all of them that have the worms in them?

Hubby thinks that if we don't dig them right now, but rather wait until we've had a couple of frosts, the worms will be encouraged (by the cold weather) to leave the potatoes and burrow down deeper in the soil for the winter.

If that happens, I would be very happy. If it doesn't, won't the worms just keep eating the potatoes in storage and probably cause rot and other ishy things to happen to those potatoes? (I'd certainly have to store them separately from the "good" potatoes.)

I've never encountered this problem before and am wondering if any of you have or if you have any advice to offer.

Thanks in advance for any help.


Claire said...

Make mashed potatoes and then freeze them for later consumption?

becky3086 said...

I would imagine that any of the potatoes with holes in them would not be good to keep in storage. I would can or freeze those and only keep the perfect ones for storing. I don't believe the frost will make the worms leave the potatoes. I don't think the potatoes themselves will get cold enough.

Susan said...

I never have a clue about gardening stuff, although I'm learning. I usually email the gal at Chiot's Run - she is a treasure trove of gardening info: She helped me through my zucchini trauma.

Erin said...

wow, that's a stumper! I can see the logic of the worms leaving the potatoes, but on the other hand what if they want to winter over/lay their eggs directly at the larvae's food source like many insects do? I second Claire's idea, take the hole-y ones and cut the bad out and mash potatoes and freeze, they freeze well that way. Would love to know what those insects are and hope they don't come back next year for you.

And - GET BACK IN YOUR QUILT STUDIO! Getting my knitting out and some new patterns really lifted my spirits, although now I'm a little obsessed and not blogging as much, LOL

Judy D said...

I would store the wormies with the goodies. Process the potatoes--can, freeze or dry. I wouldn't want any worms anywhere with my other stored food. Can't wait to see your solution. Darn worms!

Your potatoes look fabulous!

The Apple Pie Gal said...

Hmmm, I'd say process the wormy ones. Mashed and freeze or hash browns and freeze. If you can them, great! They make nice for fryed taters!

And those really are pretty ones to boot!!

Get quilting!

Leigh said...

I guess I'm with the rest on either using the holey ones first, or making something to can or freeze: potato soup, potato dices, or hash browns. I've not had this problem myself, but I'd hate to have those spoil some of the good ones too.

Sue said...

I've had problems with wireworms in the past------and they DON'T leave just because it gets cold.
Best you can do, dear, is to use them up first. Let's see now-mashed, baked, boiled, fried, soup, I see many many potatoes in your future!!

Mama Pea said...

Claire - Duh! Why didn't I think of this? I'm definitely going to do it. Talked with your oldest friend tonight (who LOVES mashed potatoes) and she is going to take some of the hole-y ones to freeze for herself. Good thinking, Girlie. And thanks.

Becky - Welcome and thanks for commenting! I think you're right about the wormies knowing they have a good thing going and not leaving the potatoes. I will plan on preserving them rather than storing.

Susan - Thanks, m'dear. After doing some research, I'm pretty sure it's wireworms we have. Which is not good. They can live in the soil for Y-E-A-R-S. Oh, dear. Oh, great. Oh, no. Sigh.

Erin - I'll definitely not store any of the hole-y potatoes. You know my extreme phobia regarding worms (I can hardly write about this whole thing) so it wouldn't be able to stand thinking about all those worms proliferating in storage potatoes!

I do get obsessed about my quilting. I want to go in my quilt studio and not come out for days. I need it. I've got to do it or I'm gonna get really funny. Let that be fair warning!

Judy D - Welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am thankful MOST of the potatoes have been unaffected. Methinks I'd better harvest them asap before any more succumb to the worms.

Apple Pie Gal - Have you tried shredding them (like for hash browns) and then freezing? I'd like to do that if possible besides mashed.

Leigh - Okay, Leigh, same question for you . . . have you had success freezing shredded raw potatoes for hash browns?

Sue - You nailed it. I'm pretty sure they are wireworms. Ish. Well, nuthin' wrong with eating good, organically grown taters. I can remember my Scottish grandma saying that before her family came to the States when she was 15, they lived on practically nothing but potatoes many winters. Won't hurt us to eat more for a while this fall, eh?