When it comes to growing potatoes, many people are reluctant to dig up potatoes at harvest time. Planting potatoes in potato towers is an excellent alternative growing system to avoid having to dig up your potatoes (and risk injuring the potatoes in the process). [Read more…]
Scalloped potatoes were a holiday tradition when I was growing up. Every Christmas Eve we would have fried fish, scalloped potatoes and oyster stew, along with an assortment of other homemade goodies. Holidays were a time of celebration and plenty. No matter how many people showed up, no one ever went home hungry.
The scalloped potato recipe I use is similar to the one my mom used to make, spiced up with a bit of curry and some cheddar cheese. Sometimes I also add ham if I have some on hand, and serve it with veggies on the side for a meal. [Read more…]
When I was a little girl, I remember my grandmother making potato pancakes quite regularly, usually on Friday nights. (Potatoes were cheap, and stored well in grandma's unheated basement.) Mom made them sometimes, too, for the same reason. Both mom and grandma always served their pancakes with homemade applesauce (and I do, too :-).
When I was flipping through my copy of The Garden Fresh Vegetable Cookbook by Andrea Chesman, I came across her recipe for potato latkes, which were pretty darn similar to grandma's potato pancakes. Now that the days are getting cooler and the new crop of potatoes are coming in, I thought it was a perfect time to share my favorite recipe for potato pancakes, which is somewhat of a hybrid of Andrea's and my grandma's. [Read more…]
My grandmother Catherine always said, “Try it, you'll like it!” I'm not quite sure what she'd say about the latest culls from the garden. This year I had a number of volunteer potato plants show up (I guess we weren't quite as thorough as we should have been last fall). Never one to pass up easy to grow food, I let the little seedlings wander on their way.
UNTIL – the seedlings were no longer little, and were on their way to turning into an impenetrable thicket, threatening to completely smother the plants that I actually wanted to grow in those beds (in this case, ground cherries, peas, broccoli and petunias).
Time for some tough love – out they came. There were around a dozen plants, but it's been really dry, so I only ended up with a few pounds of what resembled nothing so much as small purple rocks. These are Peruvian Purple potatoes – dry little fingerlings that produce no matter what kind of weather you throw at them. Hot, cold, wet, dry – bring it on! I freely admit, they are not my favorite potato in terms of taste – that honor goes to Yukon Gold – but they are tough. I plant one small bed and have enough for us and for our friends and to share with the local food pantry.
Often strangely phallic in shape when fully mature (but that's a story for another post), these heirloom fingerlings are a deep purple color all the way through. It can be a bit disconcerting, as they sometimes cook up purple and sometimes cook up blue, depending on the dish. It gives one the bizarre impression of eating muppet chow. They make a perfectly functional potato salad or scalloped potatoes and are good for roasting. I had a taste for German Potato Salad, which was a little dry (these are a very dry potato, not a waxy, which was recommended by the recipe), but it sure looked pretty. There was fresh parsley and celery from the garden, coupled with bacony goodness….mmmm….bacon.
Here's the recipe if you'd like to give it a try.Print
German Potato Salad from the Garden Fresh Vegetable Cookbook by Andrea Chesman
- 2 pounds waxy potatoes, scrubbed, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 4 ounces bacon, diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 tablespoons white wine or red whine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the potatoes with 6 cups salted water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and drain. Transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl with the potatoes. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
Add the shallot to the skillet and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid, oil, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat.
Add the celery, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Serve immediately.
Expand your culinary horizons, eat a rainbow – eat some little purple rocks…try it, you might like it!
Now that the bulk of planting is finally done (other than adding a few things later in the season for fall and winter harvest and maybe a few more flowers – you can never have too many flowers), it's time to settle down into regular maintenance. Weeding, mulching, thinning, staking – turn your back for a couple of days and it's amazing how much things can change (and get out of control).
The root veggies planted from seed are coming along nicely, so they need to be thinned out so they are not overcrowded. I've tried planting more thinly, but then it always seem to happen that they don't germinate well for some reason or another and I up up replanting. Thinning is easier for me. My mom never thins, and I didn't when I first started, but the roots grow so much nicer when they have more room. The last few growing seasons have been short on rain, too, so more room equals less stress on the plants.
You can see in the “before” pictures that the carrots are growing in bushy little clumps without much wiggle room between plants. The goal for the first thinning is so have about an inch between them.
Here's the after. Much easier to see individual plants. As they grow, they'll get thinned again, and the small carrots will end up as salad fixings, and the larger carrots will be left for winter storage.
The potatoes are around a foot tall, so they are ready to be mulched or hilled to get more plant undercover to produce a better harvest. I prefer mulching, as I find it easier to move around leaves and straw than dirt. Also, if it gets rainy in fall (not a problem recently, but it does happen), you don't end up with such a muddy mess. Given that I mulch almost all of my garden anyway, this is just a better all around solution for me.
I saved several bags of leaves from my in-laws last fall (and actually stored some of my root cellar vegetables in leaves, which worked well), so my Kennebec potatoes received a leaf mulch this year. The leaves also acidify the soil, which reduces potato scab. (Note to self – avoid planting potatoes in beds that were occupied the previous year by brassicas that were mulched with lots of composted manure, as too much nitrogen contributes to potato scab….sigh…garden rotation is not as straightforward as it seems.)