Spring has arrived and many of our garden crops are either in the ground, or started in trays awaiting their turn in our raised beds. Many, but not all. We are a little behind on one cool weather crop, and it’s one of our favorites… the potato.
This year we are planting at least 9 different potato varieties in our garden, about 2.5 pounds of seed potatoes for each. The reason we haven’t planted them yet, is that we haven’t received them. Because we are planting such a diversity, and many of the types are rare or heritage and heirloom varieties of potatoes, we ordered from an online supplier. They should come any week now, and we can’t wait to get them in the ground.
Last year, we did very well growing red Pontiac potatoes, which lasted well into winter and were delicious baked with sausages, peppers, and onions. This year I’m excited to try out the Ozette fingerling, a variety that ended up in the U.S. hundreds of years ago after a ship washed ashore on the way back from Peru, the birthplace of the potato.
Potatoes grow best in cool weather, and because they are in the nightshade family, you should take care not to plant them where you grew tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants the year before. We are actually digging a whole new series of hugel beds this spring to house our potatoes. Sepp Holzer often plants his new hugelkulture mounds with potatoes as they are light nitrogen feeders, and give the wood core some time to begin the decomposition process.
After our seed potatoes arrive, we’ll try and get them going as soon as we can, because once you’ve experienced homegrown potatoes, it changes you. It turns you into a potato snob, and makes it impossible to eat store bought potatoes ever again!