This year’s harvest of potatoes did not disappoint. I haven’t picked all of them yet, but I grabbed some to make a side dish for our dinner last evening.
These tubers are in the nightshade family. Also, they have been heavily relied upon for sustenance throughout history. They are versatile and tasty.
*Note – If you or someone you love struggles with diabetes, you may need to limit your consumption of potatoes. You’ll need to talk to your doctor about that. As an alternative, you can grow and use Sunchokes in this recipe. A blog post that mentions Sunchokes can be found here. Sunchokes are perennial, though, and can become invasive if you’re not careful. Use caution when planting. Pick a spot that won’t matter if they overcrowd.
Generally, I’ve found that potatoes are not very difficult to grow. I do a spring planting, but I know people who like to plant them in the fall for a spring harvest. It’s entirely up to you. That said, here are a few helpful hints that have worked very well for me over the years:
1- While I have occasionally used organic spuds from the supermarket as “seed” potatoes, I have the best results with actual seed potatoes from a nursery or seed catalog.
2- When inspecting seed potatoes, look for as many “eyes” as possible.
3- If a seed potato has multiple eyes, cut the potato into pieces, dividing the eyes. Plant the potato pieces spacing them about 12 inches apart. I’ve planted mine closer in the past and it has still worked out fine.
4- Plant them around 4″-8″ deep.
5- Beans and/or peas make excellent garden companions for potatoes. Other good companions include: cabbage, broccoli, sweet corn, or horseradish.
6- Melons are not good garden companions for potatoes. Neither are pumpkins or tomatoes.
7- Water them regularly. I have a drip irrigation system in my vegetable garden, which saves me a lot of aggravation. When we’ve had lots of rain, I’ve turned off the irrigation.
1- After the plants have flowered, it is a good time to dig them up. You can leave them in a little longer in hopes of larger potatoes, but be careful to check them periodically for potato blight if you do this.
2- Dig the potatoes up on a dry, sunny day. I used to plunge my gloved hands into the soil to do this, but I’ve since started to use a digging tool. Many use a digging fork. Carefully place your tool into the soil next to the potato to avoid stabbing it. Then lift out the potatoes.
3- Brush the potatoes until they are as clean as possible. Leave them to dry in the sun. Once the remaining dirt has dried, it should be easy to finish brushing it off.
4- Keep the spuds stored in a cool, dry, dark place.
Uses for the Tubers
I have read that it is possible to root a rose cutting in a raw potato wedge. Having tried this and failed, I cannot recommend this. Although if you do this and it works, I’d love to know your method!
Once upon a time, a potato could also be used as a toy. Remember “Mr. Potato Head?” The original toy consisted of parts(facial features, etc.) with push pins that were inserted into potatoes, as well as into other fruits or vegetables. Because of complaints about rotting vegetables, as well as government safety rules, the plastic potato body was developed as we know it today.
We used to play a game called, “Hot Potato.” We used a ball, but it would be more fun with a potato. I would keep it cold, though! Similar to Musical Chairs, have everyone sit in a circle and pass the potato around quickly, as though it’s hot. Then have a person-in-charge either blow a whistle or, if preferred, stop the music!
Mainly, of course, potatoes are used for food. We love them baked, mashed, fried(!), as chips, potato skins, hash browns, potato pancakes/latkes, home fries, stuffed, scalloped, salad…..I’m sure I’m missing a few ways, but these are some of my favorites. Here is something I put together at the last minute, but it turned out to be quite yummy! I think the key, as usual, is to use the freshest ingredients you can possibly get ahold of.
Herbed, Roasted Potatoes
Along with some of the potatoes from the garden, I was able to harvest a few herbs, some peppers, carrots, and onion. Here is a recipe for something I basically “threw” together, but Joel raved about how delicious it was!
You will need:
4-5 medium potatoes
1/4 Cup each: chives, basil, parsley
1 jalapeno pepper
4 tiny onions, or half of a small onion
2 medium carrots
Flaked sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
First, peel the potatoes.
Wash and dry the carrots, peppers, onions and herbs.
Slice up the potatoes and carrots and place them into a lightly oiled pan.
Slice the onions and jalapeno, tear up the herbs, and add them to the potatoes and carrots. Then spray with a bit of olive oil.
Finally, sprinkle with a pinch of flaked sea salt, to taste.
Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
If you like, add other root vegetables to make this more colorful and fun! Try beets or sunchokes, for example. Nutrition information is not always accurate. It is intended here as a guide only.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 7g
If you like, add other root vegetables to make this more colorful and fun! Try beets or sunchokes, for example.
Nutrition information is not always accurate. It is intended here as a guide only.
What’s your favorite potato recipe? Or do you know of an interesting way to use them? I’d love to know your ideas!
Happy gardening, cooking, and eating!