In praise of potatoes

Caribe potatoes

Potatoes may not be the most charismatic vegetables, but for some reason I love growing them. It’s partly because groundhogs show no interest, so I can get along without extreme measures. There’s also the allure of growing something unusual, like these purple-skinned Caribe potatoes.

And specialty potatoes dug from the garden can taste a whole lot better than anything you’ll buy in a store. These Caribes taste surprisingly ordinary, but the Warba variety (yellow with pink eyes) growing alongside won my best-tasting potato certificate two years ago. I anticipate great things from the mid-season varieties coming along later.

It’s interesting how something so solid and wholesome can grow in the dark, taking you by surprise. I’ve been poking around their roots in anticipation of new potatoes for weeks now. We had a few itty-bitty ones a while back, but mostly I would look and find nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Then yesterday morning I dug up a plant and look what I found: a meal! Last night I made some basil pesto for mashing into them. Danny likes to mash. They were delicious.

Another thing I like about potatoes is they’re so easy to accessorize: mashed, baked, fries, latkes, soup, salad, pizza or quiche crust, and the list goes on.

Last year’s potato harvest was a total blowout. I thought I could establish a new garden bed by laying seed potatoes right on the sod and covering them with straw. It works for some people, but not here. Mice ate practically all of them. What a disappointment.

I learned its best to cover them with at least a little soil, then the mice won’t get at them. This spring I over-compensated by planting twice as many as last year. Potatoes are space hogs. About half the garden is planted with them.

They’re all coming along nicely now, throwing up great mounds of greenery to nourish the next generation of tubers. The early varieties are upon us. It’s harvest time. It looks like we’re going to be eating potatoes, lots and lots of them, well into the fall.


Comments

In praise of potatoes — 2 Comments

  1. I love growing potatoes! They are so satisfying to grow, and taste so sweet fresh from the dirt, and I really enjoy “bandicooting” around looking for early tubers and just the whole buried treasure aspect of growing them. Purple sapphire and cranberry red are the favourites of the vartieties I’ve grown, though the Andean yellows here in Peru are particularly delicious!

    • The hidden treasure aspect is great. I have a Warba plant this year where I planted them two years ago! It’s going to be fun looking for different varieties now that I’m getting to know some of them better. Caribe is vigorous and healthy, but the taste is nothing special.

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