October 21, 2011

Potato Harvest

Sorry for the complete lack of posts.  We have been so busy lately trying to finish our summer projects

Our 400' potato patch has been harvested.  We grew white Kennebec potatoes.  They are delicious mashed, fried, and baked. 

Throughout the summer we battled the Colorado potato beetle.  I tried picking them by hand, diatomaceous earth, and Bt.  Finally, my sister-in-law picked up something called Spinosad.  It's a bacteria only found in an old rum factory in the Caribbean.  It has been used in organic farming since the early 80s.  It was extremely effective at killing the potato bugs, although I did have to use it twice (several weeks apart).  I'm not sure where the potato bugs came from, since we were miles away from the house garden (where we've had problems with the potato bugs in past years).  Interestingly, I tried growing some Russets in the smaller garden, and they did not have any potato bugs.  They must have all flown to the "mother lode" potato patch.

We controlled the weeds by using a rototiller in between the rows.  Some organic farmers think it's harmful to the soil to use a tiller, but we have such heavy clay soil that it's almost impossible to grow anything unless we can break it up.  Plus it was way too much work for one person to try and hoe all those rows.  Our soil is so heavy that the potatoes did not even grow down, they only grew in the hills.  That tells you how hard our ground is!  We have talked about stripping off the top layer of soil and laying down a bunch of manure, then replacing the topsoil.  If we ever get some free time it might happen, but right now we are still pretty busy.

We estimate it was about a 400 pound harvest.  I stored 8 burlap sacks in the basement of the hired man's house, plus we have a couple of 5 gallon buckets in the in-laws' garage full of potatoes that were cut during harvest.  We need to use those first because they won't keep at all.  I am so glad to be done with it.  Hopefully the potatoes will keep all winter and we'll be eating our own organic, homegrown potatoes into the spring.