Saturday, October 9, 2010

Potato Harvest Completed

I know this is going to be the highlight of your weekend so I'll keep you in suspense no longer. Here's the straight skinny on our just completed potato harvest.

First off, above is a picture of the sum total of all the potatoes harvested from my experimental potato planting in a 4' x 8' raised bed, potatoes covered with mulch rather than hilled up with dirt. Success? Not so much. This clump of potatoes is all I got from what would be equal to a 28' row of potatoes. Omigosh. How pitiful. I planted 28 potato eyes in the bed, each in a little hole, covered with about 3-4" of soil, then mulched with straw when they started to grow. A couple of them came out honkin' huge although the quantity was definitely on the - yeah, I'll say it again - pitiful side. But, happy to say, we found not one single sign of wireworms in the soil in the raised bed.

Okay, adding the raised bed experimental yield and the potatoes we've stolen from the garden in the past couple of weeks to those harvested in the past two days from our main crop, the yield from the red potatoes was 93 pounds of good, solid, medium to large potatoes which should keep in storage through the winter. However, ([shudder] please pass me the smelling salts) we also harvested 42-1/2 pounds of red potatoes that have some infestation from the wireworms. That looks to me like about one-fourth of the harvest of red potatoes was attacked by the worms. Sigh.

The white potatoes yielded much smaller potatoes and only 53 pounds. But only 8 pounds of the 53 were bothered by the wireworms. For some reason the whites fared MUCH better than the reds as far as not attracting the wireworms.

That means we have a total of 138 pounds of really nice potatoes in storage which is plenty for the two of us and for sharing.

The bad news is that I have 50-1/2 pounds of potatoes with wireworm damage to process by either canning and/or freezing if I want to get any food value out of them. Our daughter says she will take some of them to make up into mashed potatoes for her freezer because that will be a real "convenience" food for her this winter. I'll do the same with some for us. (My husband, the mashed potato lover, is thrilled thinking he'll get mashed potatoes whenever he wants if we have a freezer full of them all ready to warm up.)

Bottom line, the experimental "cage" of potatoes grown under mulch in the raised bed didn't work for me this year. Would it give a better crop under different conditions in another year? Certainly might, but I don't know if I'll try it again soon.

The wireworms were a nasty little surprise but I've never had any trouble with them before. And we didn't lose our whole crop of potatoes to them either. We ended up with more potatoes than we'll need for the year so all is well.


  1. What do frozen mashed potatoes come out like? I would think water logged and limp. How are they? I love to learn new things.

  2. I can't imagine why they would be water logged and limp, they would thaw exactly like they were when you froze them. You may have to stir them up good but I would think that would be it.
    Now canned potatoes do have a slightly tougher texture to me and don't make good mashed potatoes but we still mash them if we want to but they are much better fried with some thyme and garlic powder.:)

  3. Ok, can you tell me, because I am curious now, how do you process the ones with worms?

  4. My bins weren't productive this year either, I'm thinking last year was a fluke, might not do it again! Now I'll have to think about making space for a real potato "patch". Glad you got plenty of good ones!

  5. Jane - How do the frozen mashed potatoes come out? I've never done it before but readers have told me they've done it and they are just fine. I would think the only thing you'd have to watch in warming them up would be that they didn't scorch in the pan. Add a little water or milk?? That's what I have to do when I reheat leftover mashed potatoes.

    Becky - Doesn't a little garlic make anything taste better? ;o)

    Stephanie - All that means is that I have to cut out the "bad" spots . . . the holes that the worms have made into the potato. (And any remaining worms still hiding out.) Like you would cut out any bad spot on a potato. But then, of course, they won't keep in storage because they no longer have the protective skin where part of the potato was cut away. So at that point, I'll have to either can them or (most appealing to me) cut, cube and cook them and freeze or make into mashed potatoes and freeze in serving size containers.

    Erin - Yeah, methinks you just can't beat the good old fashioned way of growing them in the dirt and hilling them up. BUT it does take up a bit of garden space so I know that's hard if your space is limited.

  6. I always thought that frozen cooked potatoes get grainy. If that's false, I'd love to know it. Do report back in, okay?

  7. That's a great harvest, Mama Pea! I've only grown potatoes in tires, which worked out so-so. I am going to try them in bags next - I have limited garden space, as I have to build and fill raised beds for everything. Is there some treatment for wire worms?

  8. Hey Mama, maybe now would be a good time to invest in a dehydrator???

  9. JJ - I have always thought the same thing. (Uh-oh.) But my readers have been saying they freeze well. WE SHALL SEE!!

    Susan - To get rid of the wireworms, you can use an awful poison on the soil (which we will NOT do), rotate your crops (which I always do), or let the land lie fallow for a year. I have some thinking to do over winter.

    Apple Pie Gal - I have a dehydrator (two actually) and use my best one a lot. Gotta say we haven't been thrilled with reconstituted veggies other than onions and greens for throwing in soups. (I've even dried a surplus of Swiss chard and kale for feeding to the chickens in the winter. Am I crazy?)

    If you were to do the potatoes in the dehydrator, would you slice and dry them? And then how would you use them? H-E-L-P!