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Dreams Bigger than My Garden

April 30th, 2012

Sometimes, when you make a seed or plant order you forget how small your garden is. This seems to have happened when I made my seed potato order. The box arrived last Friday and I couldn’t believe how many potatoes were inside. Thankfully I have space in my mom’s garden to plant a few of these and I’ll have a spot cleared out soon when I cut my overwintered cover crop. I will plant some of my potatoes now and save some of the long keepers to plant mid-June for a late fall harvest.

This order came from The Maine Potato Lady and I have a bag or organic Kennebec (my favorite potato) from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I ordered from Maine Potato Lady because she had Katahdin, which I really wanted to try this year. When I looked though all the varieties available, I just had to try some new ones alongside some old favorites (like fingerling potatoes). Which kinds did I get? (descriptions from Maine Potato Lady Website)

Kennebec – my personal favorite long storage all purpose potato. These potatoes fry up like a dream, and since most of our potatoes are eaten fried for breakfast, this tops my list!

Katahdin – Still very popular here in the Northeast, this old standard has been around since 1932. Flat to round tubers with smooth buff skin and white flesh. High yielding and drought resistant; adaptable to many growing conditions. One of the best for any of your winter soups. Excellent storage. Numerous light purple flowers on large spreading plants.

German Butterball -This is my favorite potato, a round to oblong tuber with lightly netted golden skin that wraps around deep yellow flesh. Slightly mealy, this beauty is superb for everything – frying, baking, mashing, soups – you name it. Resistant to scab and viruses; some field resistance to late blight, but susceptible to rhizoctonia. Large upright vigorous plant with white blossoms.

Dark Red Norland -Customers sometimes ask, “What should I choose for early spuds that steam up well?” I always recommend Dark Red Norland; it’s easy to grow with consistent yields of beautiful round red tubers from large to small. Steam or boil some of these babies for those first early meals straight from the garden. Resistant to scab; fair storage. Purplish-blue flowers on a medium-sized plant.

Mountain Rose – With red skin and red flesh, this new release from Colorado joins Purple Majesty in being very high in antioxidants. Developed from All Red and a white-fleshed chipping variety, Mountain Rose shows good promise as a specialty variety for chefs and market gardeners. A moist but not waxy texture makes it suitable for most uses. Early to medium maturity and high yields. Resistant to second growth, hollow heart, shatter bruise, and some viruses. Slightly susceptible to fusarium dry rot. Semi-erect plants with reddish-purple flowers.

Purple Viking – Truly a beautiful potato, with deep purple skin dappled with pink splashes and stripes. Bright white and creamy-good, the flesh bakes or mashes perfectly. This variety produces what we call “lunkers”, large oversize potatoes, so plant close (8”-10”) to control size. Small-to-medium spreading plant has some resistance to leafhoppers.

La Ratta Fingerling – From France comes this special fingerling. In appearance Laratte is similar to Banana, though a fine net to the tan skin and a nutty flavor to the dark yellow flesh set it apart. Smooth and firm texture. The babies (1/2”-1”) truly melt in your mouth. Fine chefs love this gourmet morsel, and the demand is high. Matures about ten days later than Banana. Resistant to scab and viruses. White flowers top medium-sized plants.

Red Thumb – Dug as small “babies,” these bright red-skinned thumbs of delicacy have beautiful dark pink flesh. Pleasing flavor and firm flesh is perfect for roasting in olive oil and rosemary, then caramelizing. Serve with your favorite steak and salad. An interesting fingerling for the specialty market. Very productive small- to medium-sized plant.

I certainly can’t wait to try a few of these new varieties. We just finished off the last of our homegrown potatoes a week or so ago so it will quite a while till potatoes grace our plates unless I find some at Local Roots. Some year I want to experiment with early planting in a low tunnel and with luck, I’d be harvesting some new potatoes right about the time the ones from the pantry are gone.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a potato?

I have curated a list of seed potato sources, if you’re interested head on over & check it out. Want to know more about growing your own potatoes? Head on over to the Your Day blog at Ethel to read my in depth article on growing your own potatoes.

19 Comments to “Dreams Bigger than My Garden”
  1. KimH on April 30, 2012 at 6:05 am

    Yum.. yeah.. I have garden dreams too.. I laugh at myself sometimes… This year I wasnt sure if I was getting a spot at the community garden or not.. but I acted as if I was..60 tomato plants later.. I am, thankfully. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  2. kathi cook on April 30, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I like them roasted withrosemary and olive oil. I like your box of feline potatoes haha

    Reply to kathi cook's comment

    • Susy on April 30, 2012 at 6:42 am

      Yes, the cats seem to think I order things just so they can have boxes to play in.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Victoria on April 30, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Potatoes are great any time of year. I agree with Kathi – especially roasted with olive oil and rosemary. My 4yo will clean up every single toy in the house for a bowl of mashed potatoes. I mix in cream, butter & chives. Mmmm – this might be why I run :)

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  4. angie on April 30, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I love a good potato soup with ham and onion….and some potato cakes with the leftovers.

    I have been tempted to try one of the stacked methods for growing p otatos with little space. Are potatos hard to grow?

    Reply to angie's comment

    • Susy on April 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

      I haven’t found potatoes to be difficult to grow at all, I have personally found them to be fairly easy and care free.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Angela on April 30, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I’m growing potatoes for the first time ever. We have no land to grow them, so my husband built a type of stacking box. We’re growing All Blue from Wood Prairie Farm, and I hope they’re as easy to grow as everyone seems to say. So far it looks like they’re doing well. I love potatoes and would be happy to have a home-grown pile of them. I’ll check out your article on the Your Day blog as well. Enjoy your day!

    Reply to Angela's comment

  6. elizabeth on April 30, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I grew potatoes for the first time last year and they didn’t do well. Most had scab and I think it might have been becasue the soil ph was to high. I also have to cover them sometimes in June because the frost will burn the plants. I’m not sure I’m going to grow them this year, since I don’t eat many potatoes. Your varieties look great! I had fun digging my potatoes up!

    Do you have better luck with growing onions from sets, instead of plants? I’ve had better luck from sets, but I’m trying both this year.

    Reply to elizabeth's comment

    • Susy on April 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

      I have best luck growing onions from seed. Sets coming in second but they don’t seem to store as long for me. This is the first year I’m trying a lot of plants, I only got a small pack two years ago and didn’t have great luck with them. This year I planted around 200 plants, 300 sets, and about 100 from seed. So I should have a pretty good idea of which works best after this season.

      Try growing a mustard cover crop in the area you plan on planting potatoes if you ever grow them again, mustard is supposed to do wonders for mitigating potato problems (even better than chemical treatments).

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Jennie B. on April 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        I planted onion sets and either they just up and died or something ate them. I’m having a terrible time with pests in my new raised bed. my potatoes though i planted (my first time) in my existing bed and they are growing beautifully. i hope what’s below ground looks as good as that above. i planted yukon golds and a red variety. i had NO IDEA there were so many varieties to choose from. i just went to my local country store.

        to Jennie B.'s comment

      • elizabeth on April 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm

        Thank you Susy, I’ll look into a mustard cover crop for the potato bed. Its too cold here to grow a winter cover crop, so I have to do it over the summer/fall.

        Looking forward to hearing about your onions, come Fall.

        to elizabeth's comment

      • Susy on April 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

        You can plant it in the fall and let it winter kill in the bed you plan on planting potatoes in. Or you can plant in the early spring and cut it 2 weeks before you plant your potatoes.

        to Susy's comment

  7. Arika on April 30, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I’m trying out Mountain Rose and German Butterball for this first time this season! Glad to hear you really like the German Butterballs. I really have enjoyed Red Norlands in years past as well!

    I totally over-ordered this year too- It never seems like too much until that heavy box of potatoes is on your doorstep haha :)

    Reply to Arika's comment

  8. Maybelline on April 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Fried with catsup – of course.
    Mashed with butter, mozarella, parmesan, cheddar, and Italian seasoning plus salt and pepper. Put the mash into a casserole. Top with even more cheese. Bake until the top is nice and bubbley. Mercy – that is good stuff.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Maybelline on April 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Forgot one:
      diced, mixed with olive oil to coat. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic & onion powder. Bake on a cookie sheet 350°F until golden.

      Reply to Maybelline's comment

  9. Lindsay Wilkinson on April 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    we love roasting potatoes, beets & carrots of similar size together and then we toss them with a honey or a balsamic drizzle of some sort. so much rooty goodness. I am guilty though – we have yet to attempt growing potatoes! I thought for sure this would be our year, but we’ve ventured into so many other new-to-us-stuff that I guess it isn’t. fortunately we get a wonderful abundance from our csa. there is nothing quite so yummy like a new potato!

    Reply to Lindsay Wilkinson's comment

  10. Ngofamilyfarm on May 1, 2012 at 3:01 am

    Ha! So true! We’re growing Colorado rose and purple Viking as well :)

    Reply to Ngofamilyfarm's comment

  11. Allison on May 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I love them roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and dill. Or cut into fries, baked, and then melted blue cheese over them :)

    Reply to Allison's comment

  12. AGinPA on May 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I love growing potatoes; it feels like a treasure hunt when digging them up. And they taste so amazing just out of the ground. I just discovered Purple Viking last year at the farmers market and I planted some of my own this season.

    My family loves oven “fries.”

    Reply to AGinPA's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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