Selecting Blue, Red and White Potatoes for the Home Vegetable Garden

How to select potato varieties for the home garden and how much seed potato to buy to grow enough to store for winter. From Foy Update

It happened again.  I haven’t ordered my potatoes and it is late March which means places are selling out!

Potatoes have gotten a bad reputation because they are made into processed foods like french fries and chips then packaged into crinkly bags and marketed heavily.  However, if you are cooking at home roasting, baking, grilling and boiling are all healthy ways to enjoy a potato.  There is lots of good nutrition in a potato, don't be fooled!

Buying seed potatoes online - how to select a variety and how much to buy for your home garden
The five pounds of 'Adirondack Blue' potatoes I bought from Johnny's Selected Seeds. I was excited to get them and a little apprehensive because I had never grown potatoes before.

Last year I bought five pounds of ‘Adirondack Blue’ seed potatoes.  We had a nice harvest and we ate our lovely potatoes until they ran out in the beginning of November.  This year I am determined to grow even more; two times more so we will have more for the winter.

As I work towards feeding my family locally year-round, we will be eating fewer grains and relying on winter squash, pumpkins, potatoes and sweet potatoes for the starchy components of our meals.  I estimate we eat five pounds of potatoes a week; roughly a half pound of potatoes per adult per day.  Yes, that seems like a lot of potatoes.  If I wanted to have enough to store for nine months (September through May), we would have to grow 126 pounds of potatoes (assuming we lose none to spoilage or low yields).

*** Warning Math Ahead ***

According to Ohio State Extension, "A good yield would be 150 to 175 pounds of usable potatoes from 100 feet of row" or about 1.5-1.75 pound per foot of row.   For standard size potatoes one pound of seed potatoes are needed for every ten feet of row; approximately 1/10th a pound per foot of row.  (Fingerling and specialty potatoes are usually more.)  Now I am going to do some math.  

Here's how to figure out how much potato you should grow, how much garden space you will need, and how much seed potato to buy:

How many potatoes should you grow to feed your family through the winter?  
(number of pounds potatoes eaten in a week) * 36 weeks = number of pounds you should grow
5 pounds of potatoes a week * 36 weeks = 126 pounds of potatoes 

How many feet of row should you plant of potatoes?  
(The number of pounds you should grow) / 1.625 pounds per foot of row = number of feet of row you should plant
126 pound of potatoes / 1.625 pounds per foot of row = 77 feet of row needed

How many pounds of seed potato do you need to buy?
(The number of feet of row you should plant) / 10 = number of pounds of seed potato needed
77 feet of row / 10 = 7.7 pounds of seed potatoes needed  

Where to shop for seed potatoes?  

To get the interesting and organically grown varieties, I look online.
  1.          Johnny’s Selected Seeds (JSS)
  2.          Seed Savers Exchange (SSE)
  3.          The Maine Potato Lady (MPL)
  4.          High Mowing Seeds (HMS)

Yummy breakfast: Pan fried blue potatoes, over easy egg, avocado and salsa
The 'Adirondack Blue' potatoes fried up nicely for breakfast with some avocado, egg and salsa.  #yummy

I consider my options.  I know I want a blue or red potato.  The seed companies who sell the ‘Blue Adirondack’ variety I grew last year are sold out, I consider what’s in stock (as of 2/24/2015).

Blue or Red Colored Flesh Potatoes

  • ‘Red Adirondack’ the red version of my aforementioned blue, early set and good storage (JSS)
  • ‘All Blue’ respectable yields, stores well (MPL, HMS)
  • ‘Magic Molly’ a deep blue waxy fingerling (JSS, MPL)
  • ‘Papa Caco’ Peruvian fingerling potato with pink flesh, roasting (MPL)

I would also like a good all around white potato that stores well.

Good All Around White Potatoes:

  • ‘German Butterball’ noted for its taste as well as long storage, late-season (SSE, HMS)
  • ‘Kennebeck’ good all around potato coming from a strong bread for resistance to lots of potato problems, mid-season (JSS, MPL)
  • ‘Yukon Gold’ excellent yield, great keeper, slightly dry flesh, early-season (JSS, SSE, MPL, HMS)
  • ‘Russet’ excellent flavor, long storage (there are several different varieties)
  • ‘Purple Viking’ early blue skin, white flesh variety with excellent yields (HMS, SSE)
As I make my choices, I am also looking for an early and a late season potato so that I have some available to eat in the summer through fall and then some to store for winter and hopefully into the spring. 

I will probably regret how many seed potatoes I ordered when I have to dig all the extra bed space this spring, but I am excited to try new varieties and see how storing large quantities of potatoes goes. 

Home Vegetable Garden in June - Potato Patch
Here's my little patch of potatoes from last year in early June. I had two rows each 10 feet long.

In the end, I ordered four varieties in two purchases; one from Johnny's Select Seeds and one from High Mowing Seeds:
‘Red Adirondack’ 5 pounds - The red version of my aforementioned blue, early set and good storage   
‘All Blue’ 2.5 pounds - Respectable yields, stores well 
‘German Butterball’ 2.5 pounds - noted for its taste as well as long storage, late-season  
‘Kennebeck’ 5 pounds - good all around potato, bred for resistance to lots of potato problems, mid-season
I also ordered some sweet potatoes.  I've never grown those before.  I got the only variety that was still available from Johnny's or High Mowing, one called 'Beauregard'.  

What potatoes will you be growing this year and where do you buy them?  

No comments:

Post a Comment