This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

new potatoes

new potatoes

Talk about delicious! Ahhhh....

I let a number of volunteer potatoes plants grow this year in my paths and my cabbage bed. I guess I missed some spuds last fall and they sprouted this spring. This week, the plants began shading the cabbage too much and I pulled them out. The prize was a few tiny little baby red potatoes on the roots.

These were so young and tender that the skins almost rubbed off when I washed them.

I boiled them 3 minutes, then threw them in the pan to roast next to the steak kebabs. I can't even describe how good they were!

When are potatoes ripe? I was asked about how early you can harvest potatoes. And what about unripe, green potatoes? Aren't they poisonous?

Oh my. Big question.

It turns out that green potatoes ARE toxic (if you eat an entire large green one, you'll probably feel sick). But the green is not from being unripe, but is produced when potatoes are exposed to sunlight. This causes them to make chlorophyll, which is green but not poisonous, and solanine, which is toxic but not green.

So any age or size potato can be green/toxic if it grows above ground, but baby potatoes of any age are fine to eat.

I've read that you can start to harvest potatoes 2-3 weeks after the plants finish blooming. (I pulled these baby potatoes before the plants had even budded and they were yummy.) Early potatoes will be small.

Potatoes will be fully grown when the plants die back. Die back timing depends on the variety. Last year my fingerlings died back in mid July. Last year, I harvested some potatoes then, some in the early fall and still more in the spring after the ground thawed. All were delicious.

It seems to me that you can never dig all of the potatoes in a bed and there'll always be a new crop of volunteers the next year.

potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

13 Comments:

Blogger Laura said...

I am definitely growing potatoes in my home garden next year!

June 19, 2009 10:32 AM

 
Anonymous trish from SE PA said...

Great looking potatoes! I am scared that mine won't produce anything, they have flowers on them now and bugs. I remain optimistic, my tomatoes have tomatoes and the pepper plants are doing well.There are even peas on the vines, my son loves to eat them straight from the pod. I'm sure you will have much success with your plants.

June 19, 2009 12:27 PM

 
Anonymous Cheyenne said...

Those look delicious. I was skeptical about even wanting to grow potatoes (not my favorite veggie) until experiencing fresh/local csa taters this winter. Revelation doesn't even begin to describe it. Totally different tuber. We've got some Red Norlands going crazy in a tire- in fact they need a 2nd tire and some dirt infill today! And don't you love the volunteers from incomplete harvesting? We have some garlic that just popped up for the same reason.

June 19, 2009 1:31 PM

 
Blogger Cynthia said...

Lovely potatooooes! I can't wait to try growing them next year :)

June 19, 2009 6:00 PM

 
Blogger Meredith said...

Yay! I'm so glad you had this post. I just came in from harvesting a handful of new potatoes from my first potato patch, and I'm nervous about how to cook them. They sound so delicious, I don't want to mess them up! I'll try the boiling/roasting combo, probably with some evoo and garlic.

I was nervous, like Trish above, that my potato plants wouldn't produce anything. But I went out to pile some more soil around them, and I took a peek, and ta da!

June 19, 2009 6:50 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

I think maybe its because you can't see them growing that potatoes seem so magical - "a hidden treasure".

Plus they are a very important food staple. I enjoy reading through the website of the United Nations on the importance of potatoes: UN Year of the Potato

The potato is an important non-grain commodity and encouraging its production is an important step in achieving diversity in food sources. Potatoes are good for you, AND they produce more nutritious food more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop. There are 4,300 different varieties of potatoes grown in the Andes!

Of the all staple foods, I can't grow rice or wheat or other grains. I'm experimenting with some corn (popcorn) this year. But I can grow potatoes!

I'm glad to hear everyone's potatoes are growing good.

June 19, 2009 8:04 PM

 
Blogger Kalena Michele said...

Hi there! I wonder...I just got some Butte seed potatoes in the mail from Wood Prairie Farm. I really really really want potatoes, but I was concerned about how late in the season it is and all the heat. Is it really too late to plant potatoes or should I set them in the sun, let them green a bit and go for it? I may not get any potatoes until September...but it would be worth it if there's still time.

June 19, 2009 9:05 PM

 
Anonymous Becky Ri said...

I have never had any luck with potatoes in my garden...seems like I can grow just about everthing else! Any suggestions? I would love some input:)

Thank you for sharing

June 19, 2009 10:08 PM

 
Blogger Toni said...

Kathy, hi... it's Toni in Wyoming.

I so appreciated reading your post about When Potatoes are Ripe.

My Yukon Golds are just beginning to bud!

Thanks!

June 21, 2009 1:16 AM

 
Anonymous Robin said...

Hi Kathy,

Been following your blog for months and I love it! What a wealth of information, especially since we're in similar zones - I'm nearby in RI. Well this is my first year growing potatoes and this post inspired me to go peek for some early spuds lastnight. I harvested 6 beauties from 2 plants! You're right about all the hidden activity under ground making the harvest especially exciting. Oh the humble potato, my new garden jewel.
Happy gardening.

June 24, 2009 10:32 AM

 
Blogger Anne Wright said...

It turns out that some people are especially sensitive to the toxic substances in potatoes and all other nightshades (tomato, peppers, eggplant, etc.). Solanine is just one of a whole class of these substances called solanaceous glycoalkaloids (SGA). They are toxic because they are cholinesterase inhibitors. This is the same mode of action as many chemical pesticides and nerve gasses.

All these plants produce more SGA in response to certain conditions and stresses. The big issue with potatoes is that they can continue to increase SGA production even after harvest. You are right that green potatoes signal one of these issues: potatoes ramp up SGA in response to light. They'll also do it in response to mechanical damage, or even just prolonged storage.

So, making sure to take good care of the plants while they grow, keeping the soil over them thick enough to avoid light hitting the tubers, eating them promptly after harvest, etc. are all helpful to minimize toxicity. The fact that stores wash them, store them in plastic, and leave them under lights 24/7 are really really bad ideas.

If anyone is interested in more about this, I've written up some info at http://sites.google.com/site/annerwright/cholinesterase-inhibitors

June 28, 2009 7:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Potatoes can release these toxins also when they are not handled properly by the growers. Besides being for too long in the sunlight, the toxins can be also released due to mechanical damage, improper storage or when potatoes are sprouting. Check this page http://nutritionmyths.com/eating-green-potatoes-can-kill-you/ it explains it thoroughly with scientific background. Basically you should never eat potatoes with even the smallest patches of green on the skin or flesh.

January 20, 2016 12:50 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Thanks Anne and anonymous. It's good to know this. I didn't know the green producing potato toxin can happen after harvest and from mechanical damage. Thanks for explaining.

January 21, 2016 4:56 PM

 

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