Five Thousand Eyes

Five Thousand Eyes

Seed Potatoes

Seed Potatoes.

There are about five thousand varieties of potatoes worldwide. Three thousand can be found in the Andes. Potatoes in America first traveled to Europe and then to America. In the first part of this century people worldwide consumed about 75 pounds of potatoes each year. Well, I didn’t.
We planted potatoes for the first time last year. In June the leaves seemed to be rather pale. An internet search suggested magnesium, so I blasted the plants with an Epsom Salts solution. Then I went out of town.

As time went by, I filled in the trench with compost. And watched the leaves continue to grow up and up. I had no idea when the potatoes were supposed to be harvested. My neighbor complained that her potatoes never bloomed. Mine never bloomed either. So we waited. For the blossoms. Supposedly the potatoes would be ready when the potatoes bloomed. Then one day, I plunged my hand into the fluffy compost around the potato plants, to check moisture levels. I hit a rather large rock. Well. That was no good. I thought I had cleaned out any large rocks. So I pulled it out of the soil, and there was a huge potato! Phooey on the blossom theory.

Potato seed cut for planting

Potato seed cut for planting

Closeup of sprouts

Closeup of sprouts

Potato trenches

Potato trenches.

This year I bought the same varieties to plant. Chieftan is a red potato and the Yukon Gold is a yellow non-russeted variety. They did so well last year that I was sneaking bags of potatoes onto neighbors’ porches in the middle of the night.

Also, they didn’t keep well. I put them on plastic dollar store trays and stored them unwashed in the cold room. Our house was built by a couple of Norwegian boat builders. They included an unheated basement room, on the shady side of the house, with a screened hole to the outdoor air. We call it the cold room. Kind of like a root cellar, but without the dirt. The potatoes only lasted a couple of months before they started to sprout. I must have done something wrong. I’ll look it up this year.

The fabulous internet said to cut the seed potatoes in chunks containing at least a couple of eyes, then let them “scab” over for a couple of days. OK. Except that they were left to “scab” for four days before I could get them planted. It was raining. They were shriveled, but the tiny sprouts did seem to be ok. I’ve had potatoes grow in the compost pile, just from peelings. So they must be programmed to grow anywhere. Hopefully this delay won’t cause the dreaded Late Blight. The famous Irish potato famine was caused by late blight, a mold that caused the potatoes to shrivel into unedible problems. We’ll see.

So this year I planned to plant fewer potatoes. I dug the trenches and planted the cut potato seed on April 18, a few days earlier than last year. Now we wait. Unbelievably we may get frost tonight. Go, potatoes.

Bistro Chicken Casserole

Bistro Chicken Casserole

Here’s a great recipe for your potatoes.

Jan’s Bistro Chicken Casserole

Lay boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a lightly greased casserole.
Layer on chunks of potatoes (not russets), onions, celery and carrots.
Pour in a half cup of white wine.
Then, the secret part, add six sage leaves and a twig of rosemary. Grind over some sea salt and pepper.
Cover with casserole lid.
Bake at 350° until chicken is done.
This is good stuff. If eaters are going to be late because they missed the ferry, just turn the oven down to 200º until the crowd gathers. Put your feet up. Go watch Cash Cab. The potatoes will be just fine.



7 Responses to “Five Thousand Eyes”

  1. Sarah says:

    Pretty cool post. I just came across your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  2. Jan says:

    Hi Alice,
    Thanks for visiting.

  3. Alice says:

    Jan,
    This is great. I will have many questions for you when we have our little plot started.

  4. Jan says:

    Hi Joan,
    No, I’m not growing the potatoes in the same plot this year. Apparently you’re not to grow tomatoes and potatoes in the same ground either. There’s supposed to be a three year rotation, which gets tricky since I have a limited number of raised beds. The Norwegians grew their potatoes here in the same ground for ten years. Always the same place, and they probably kept the seed each year. Amazing.

  5. Joan Walton says:

    Finally can read a Web site written by someone I know. Love the potato blog. I haven’t grown potatoes in a long time. Ed Hume says not to grow potatoes in the same place two years in a row. Joan

  6. Jan says:

    Ned, thanks for visiting. This really was a terrible winter for the garden. I can’t understand why because it never really got too cold. Actually I have two rosemary bushes that look terrible. Time to prune out all the dead wood. The fresh sage and rosemary make this dish wonderful.
    Again, thanks for visiting!

  7. Ned Walton says:

    Jan,

    I’m looking forward to trying your Bistro Chicken. We’ve got sage growing and still some rosemary – this winter took a terrible toll on a lot of our plants, including the rosemary. I’ve always thought rosemary akin to weeds because it is a real survivor. We look forward to seeing you soon.

    Ned

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