Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lovely Spuds

I think more than any crop, potatoes give you the best bang for the buck. I will always keep at least a third of my garden in potatoes and if times are good, I will give them away.

A commercial farmer can get about 17 tons per acre. Hell, the worlds record is 32 tons per acre. Now you aren't going to get that kind of yield, they spray the fields big time with all kinds of nasty crap. But you can sure get 8 tons per acre out of your garden. Now, I realize that most of you aren't gardening an acre, but for an example, I can usually get about 15 pounds out of every plant that I put in. This year my total yield was 172 pounds for the 12 plants I put in.

What is best about them is that they are so dang easy to grow. I really think that I spend less time with my potatoes than any of the other plants (Don't get me started about carrots). The real issue is storing them.

Now, if you are like me, if you are just gardening as a hobby, you will eat the potatoes fresh dug and new. Man, the combination of butter, salt, pepper, and potatoes is a gift from god. While things are holding together, this is the way to go. If times are looking rough and the potatoes you are growing are part of preps, then you want to handle it a bit differently.

First, you have to let them go in the ground for a lot longer. The ideal is to let them stay in the ground until after the first frost and the vines have died completely back. Then you have to sort them and pull out damaged ones and ones with "stuff" that don't look right. Then you get to sweat them by putting them under some burlap for two weeks out of the rain.

Now that the potatoes are ready to store, you have to put them in burlap sacks. Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise, burlap is the best for this use. It lets the air in and helps keep the potatoes longer. I guess that you could use good cardboard boxes, but I would use waxed boxes and make dang sure that I wiped them out well with a chlorox solution a couple of days before you put the spuds in them.

Then you have to store them in a cool dark place. If you have a root cellar, your life is good. If not, just do the best you can. The warmer the storage, the shorter the storage time.

The potatoes that you will get won't have them yummy thin skins that everyone loves so much in new potatoes. Instead they will have think, nasty tasting skins that will help the potatoes last.