Saturday, June 5, 2010

Potato harvest

In February, I made my first attempt at growing potatoes. I planted a small crop of Kennebec potatoes in a potato Grow Bag from Gardener's Supply. I can't recall if I planted them on Valentine's Day or President's Day weekend--probably President's Day weekend, because I remember reading Carla's potato-planting post at Austin Urban Gardens on Valentine's Day, and that probably reminded me to go buy seed potatoes--but I did plant them. I even managed to cut them up, dust them with sulfur and let them cure before planting. I also put sulfur in the soil around the seed potatoes. Two months later, the potato plants looked like this.

On Friday night, I read Carla's post about her potato harvest. I was going to wait a full four months to harvest my potatoes, but after reading her post, I couldn't wait a second longer --I had to know if I had potatoes RIGHT NOW!

So I ran out to the shed, got the wheelbarrow out, tripped over a cinder block, got up and wheeled over to the grow bag, tried to lift it and couldn't pick it up, and went inside to ask Jack for a hand. He dumped the contents into the wheelbarrow and announced, "I see potatoes!" Well, what do you know. Sure enough, there they were.
Potato harvest

I'm such a garden nerd, I had to arrange the potatoes in all sorts of little vignettes and take pictures of them. Here are the tubers dangling from their stalks on top of the soil in the wheelbarrow.
Potato harvest

And here's a closeup of the original hunk of seed potato at the end of one of the stalks.
Where potatoes come from

Here's the biggest potato and the littlest potato, with a badminton shuttlecock for reference.
Biggest & littlest potato

Not all the seed potatoes sprouted. Not sure why; they all had eyes. And about 5 potatoes had soft mushy spots. Maybe I should have harvested them at the 90 day point.
Seed potatoes that didn't sprout

Here they are, all cleaned up and laid out on a placemat with a quarter for reference.
Homegrown Kennebec potatoes

All in all, not bad for a first attempt. I certainly didn't get the 13-pound harvest the Gardener's Supply folks did, but I definitely have enough potatoes for at least a couple of side dishes for the two of us. And according to the Aggies, I can make a second attempt this August.
Homegrown Kennebec potatoes

What's your favorite potato recipe? If you have one, please share! I feel like these fellows deserve special treatment.

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Bob at Draco Gardens has told me that fall potatoes are way better than spring potatoes...the problem is finding seed potatoes for the fall.

    My favorite potato recipe is a toss up between homemade twice baked potatoes and breakfast potatoes. I've actually posted the recipes on my non-garden blog a while back for a friend who is culinary-challenged. One is under Breakfast Potatoes and the other is under Four Ways with Potatoes.

  2. Oh my goodness. What a crop. I am definitely going to try potatoes next year. I have 2 big plastic pots that would just be perfect. They use grow bags a lot in England. They just seem to me to be a bag of potting soil that you slit on the top and plant. Maybe they have more time release fertilizer in them. August- where will you get the seed potatoes?

  3. Katina, thanks for the recipes! I'm tempted to cook up some breakfast potatoes right this minute.

    Lancashire rose, I just placed a seed potato order from and specified a shipping date of mid-July. That will give me time to cut, dust and cure them before getting them in the ground by mid-August. I ordered small quantities of Red Lasoda, Banana, Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, Purple Viking and All Blue - varieties recommended by the Aggies and/or Howard Garrett for Texas.

  4. i've tried growing potatoes for 3 seasons now...this season seems like there might be quite a bit, but i don't know. i've dug around and there are definitely tubers but they are still really small, not even "new potato" size yet. and a couple of the plants are still flowering...wierd. i planted in february too..haha

    anyway, what potatoes we have harvested in seasons past (small amounts for sure as we are still learning), i loved cubed and sauted with green beans from the garden in a little butter with a pinch of sea salt and a dash of good, easy and quick! yum!!

  5. My neighbor just called me over to look at her taters she just discovered popping out of the ground. She had both red and white varieties she picked up at Walmart in March. The biggest was about 4 x 3 inches. It was a complete surprise for her. Apparently her mounding was flattening out and exposed the spuds.
    I have three potato cages that are 3 feet in diameter going with La Soda, Kennebec, and Pontiac. I have added about a foot of compost during the growing season. It looks to be time to take a peek. The Pontiac top growth is starting to wain so they are probably verging on maximum growth. These are my first taters so it may get noisy if it turns out to be a bonanza.