The seed potatoes that we were waiting on arrived the other day, and within 48 hours we had them in the garden. In total, we planted 9 varieties and we’ll buy 1 more type at the supply store soon to make 10.
We tried to keep the number of plants relatively even, so that we can compare yields among varieties, in addition to flavor, store-ability, and disease resistance. We did this by cutting larger seed potato pieces into smaller pieces, but making sure that each piece still had at least 1 nice eye to grow from. Seed pieces the size of an egg, a chicken egg that is, we planted whole. We ended up planting 176 seed potato pieces, which in a perfect word would make 176 plants. We’ll see….
Most of the varieties we planted are either rare heirloom potato varieties, or delicious gourmet varieties. Here’s a brief rundown on what went in the ground.
Of the early potatoes, we planted Early Ohio, an heirloom from Vermont grown since 1871 with a nutty flavor, and Cobbler, another heirloom from the 1800’s that is said to have been discovered by an Irish shoe maker.
We planted a few mid-season varieties, including Carola, a German potato with a creamy yellow flesh, Kennebec, a popular and high yielding variety grown all over the country, and Purple Majesty, a beautiful purple skinned and fleshed variety high in anthocyanins, an antioxidant found in blueberries, currants, and aronia.
The late season varieties were Bintje, a Dutch potato from 1910, German Butterball, a delicious yellow fleshed gourmet type, Katahdin, a high yielding and long keeping variety from 1932, and Red Pontiac, the red potato we grew last year that knocked our socks off and made us potato snobs.
We also planted a fingerling variety named Ozette. This potato has the best backstory of all the potatoes we planted this year. The Ozette potato, unlike every other potato grown in the US came directly from South America by Spanish Explorers in 1791. They brought it with them form the Andes, and it was planted in a small garden outside of a fort in the Pacific Northwest. When the Spaniards abandoned the fort, the Native Makah people found the Ozette Fingerling potato, and have planted, and relied on it as part of their diet every year since.
All other potatoes were first taken to Europe, where the Irish, Prussians, and the rest of the Continent developed new varieties, and then brought these varieties to North America when they immigrated centuries later. The Ozette potato is said to be one of the tastiest potatoes around, and having tasted more than a few Peruvian potatoes myself, I can’t wait.