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February 4th, 2014

On Saturday I was making venison stew.  As I pulled potatoes out of the bag from the root cellar I found this:
heart shaped potato
This isn’t the first time I have harvested a heart shaped vegetable from my garden. Many years ago I got a heart shaped tomato as well.
I love all the different colors, shapes and sizes of homegrown vegetables.

Have you ever harvested vegetables that were funny shapes?

Pesky Wireworms

September 26th, 2013

I’ve been harvesting my potatoes little by little as I have time and nice weather. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I have potatoes coming out my ears. Luckily, all the animals love them. There are a decent number of culls this year, the voles were particularly fond of the big main crop type potatoes. Most likely this is partly due to the fact that they’re in the ground longer and later. There are also a decent number of potatoes with wireworm damage, which is always annoying.
potato harvest
wire worm 2
wire worm 1
wire worm 3
Wireworms affect crops more when there are grassy weeds in the garden or in an area that was sod the previous year. I’ve been very good about keeping the grassy weeds pulled, which means my wireworm population will decline in the coming years. I’m also planning on putting the chickens into the garden after all the potatoes are out of the ground to scratch around and eat any that they can find. Luckily any potatoes with wireworm or vole damage can still be fed to the animals, they’ll no doubt enjoy feasting on potatoes for the coming week.

Have you ever dealt with wireworms in your potato crop?

The Great Potato Harvest

August 26th, 2013

Earlier this week, the great potato harvest began. If you remember, I planted about 200lbs of seed potatoes. The ‘Red Gold’ and ‘Dark Red Norland’ potatoes were ready to be dug up. Neither of these will keep for a long time, so we’ll be eating them like mad. Any extras that we don’t eat will be fed to the ducks, chickens and pigs.
Harvesting potatoes 1
The rest of the potatoes are still growing. They are starting to die back, but they won’t be ready for harvest for at least another month or so. That’s the nice thing about growing a 70 day potato, you can harvest them early and be eating potatoes long before your main crop is ready.
Harvesting potatoes 3
I planted a huge portion of the main garden in potatoes.  Why? Because they’re fairly easy.  Potatoes grow so quickly, they smother the weeds quite well. They also produce very well, calorie for calorie, better than any other garden crop.  I planted them in early June, mulched them in early July and that was it.
Harvesting potatoes 2
These ‘Dark Red Norland’ potatoes are quite lovely to look at. The color is quite amazing when you first spot them in the soil, they’re bright fuschia. I’ve grown them before, but I’m always surprised by how bright they are at harvest.  Some red potatoes can be difficult to spot when you’re harvesting, not so with these beauties, that bright pink is easy to see.
Dark Red Norland Potatoes
The ‘Red Gold’ potatoes were planted rather close, this makes them produce a greater number of small potatoes rather than a few large ones. When I have boiling potatoes like this, I prefer them to be on the small side so they cook up quickly.  Overall, the potato harvest is going quite well this year.  We’ve been enjoying eating potatoes once again.

Do you grow early, mid and late season potatoes?


March 3rd, 2012

I always save some space to grow new varieties of vegetables in my garden. Since I’ve only been growing edibles for 4-5 years, I haven’t honed in on the varieties that I love yet, at least not in every area. When it comes to potatoes – I have learned that I LOVE Kennebecs. They grow well for me, the texture is great, and they store beautifully. I’m looking for another variety to grow this year and I’ve been debating between Katahdin & German Butterball as part of my main crop potatoes. I don’t like a mealy potato, so I’m wondering if I’ll like the Katahdin.

The ‘Butte’ potatoes I grew as a late harvest crop are doing wonderfully and are still going strong in the cellar, but I don’t love the texture of them so they got knocked off the list. Way too mealy and the skins are too tough (at least for my tastes). It might be a good mashing potato, but it’s not great fried – which is how we eat the majority of our potatoes.

I stumbled upon a new source for seed potatoes – the Maine Potato Lady and added her to my seed potato source list.  Thought you might like to check our her website, she specializes in potatoes, shallots, onions, and garlic.

Have you had any experience with either of these or another variety of potato you think I should try?

Potatoes Coming out my Ears

April 9th, 2010

Come this fall I may have potatoes coming out my ears based on the amount I’ve planted so far this spring. I do love potatoes, they’re versatile, quick, delicious and healthy. So I decided since they’re supposed to be the most productive plant for the garden space they take up it would be worthwhile to plant a lot of potatoes. Another great thing about potatoes is that they don’t require any processing for storage (besides proper conditions).

According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods:

Potatoes are a very good source of vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fiber.

Potatoes also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity. Among these important health-promoting compounds are carotenoids, flavonoids, and caffeic acid, as well as unique tuber storage proteins, such as patatin, which exhibit activity against free radicals. Read this article for in depth info about the healthfulness of potatoes.

My sister and I decided to split a potato sampler from Seed Savers this year. We got 2.5 lbs of 8 different varieties of potatoes to try. This is what we received:

La Ratta: Long prized by French chefs as a top quality fingerling. We cannot recommend this variety highly enough, an absolute delight to cook with. Long uniform tubers, yellow flesh with firm, waxy texture and a nice nutty flavor, holds together very well. Especially good for potato salad or as a boiled potato. Commands a high price both in the restaurant and fresh market trade. 100-120 days.

French Fingerling: This is a wonderful variety! The rose-colored skin covers its creamy yellow flesh. Very versatile and good for any style of preparation. Peeling is not necessary or recommended. Rumored to have been smuggled to America in a horse’s feedbag in the 1800s. 90-110 days.

All Blue: Deep blue skin, blue flesh with a thin white line just under the skin. A good choice for baking and frying, nice for making colorful chips. When boiled the color turns to a light blue. High mineral content, good keeper. 90-110 days.

All Red: (a.k.a. Cranberry Red) Red skin with delicate pale pink flesh. Low starch content makes this variety a good boiling potato for salads or any dish that requires potatoes to retain their shape. Considered the best producing red-fleshed, red-skinned variety. Introduced to SSE members by Robert Lobitz in 1984. Consistently a good producer at Heritage Farm, regardless of the weather conditions. 90-110 days.

Carola: Our most popular variety. Heavy yields of medium-sized, rounded oval potatoes with straw-beige skin. Excellent when harvested as young new potatoes. Creamy yellow flesh, relatively low starch, great for soups, boiling or fried. Maintains new potato qualities for months in root cellar. 95 days.

Purple Viking: Quickly gaining the reputation of a great tasting, slightly sweet, general purpose potato. A choice variety for any preparation , snow-white flesh is excellent for mashing. Average tubers are 3½ – 4″ in diameter, but in a good year it can produce even larger tubers. Excellent storage qualities. 80-100 days.

Red Gold:
Bred by Ag-Canada at the University of Guelph in 1970. Beautiful reddish orange skin with creamy, golden-yellow, semi-moist flesh. Excellent variety for baking, frying, mashing, steaming or roasting. Good disease resistance, best used fresh, not recommended for extended storage. 90-100 days.

Yukon Gold: A favorite among gardeners, consumers and chefs. Delicious flesh is drier than most other yellow varieties, perfect for baking and mashing. Yellow flesh appears to be buttered. Bred and selected by AgCanada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 1966. Excellent yields and a great keeper. 80-90 days.

I spent Wednesday at my mom’s again this week planting most of these potatoes. If you remember last week we planted Yukon Gold and Kennebec potatoes. I’m hoping to have a pantry full of potatoes this fall. This year is a trial run of trying these varieties. I’ll probably narrow it down to a few different kinds next year.

Do you grow potatoes in your garden? Do you have a favorite kind?

Reading & Watching

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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.