Mary's Veggie Garden

February 27, 2010

Storing Potatoes in the Garden

Filed under: Gardening,Potatoes,Root Cellar,Sweet Potatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 9:40 am

“So last Christmas Eve, before we went to church, Jake and I dug potatoes for Christmas Dinner.” Michele B. Flynn,”Gardening With Jake,”  Green Prints No. 81, Spring 2010.

Should potatoes be stored by leaving them in the garden and digging them as needed?

Potatoes missed during harvest stay alive during the winter, as shown by the numerous volunteer potato plants in any community garden.  I’ve even harvested and eaten some of the potatoes at the end of these long volunteer shoots. (We didn’t want potatoes growing in that section of the garden.) The potato’s texture was different and it looked almost translucent.

The chief reason not to harvest potatoes as needed is that other creatures will take advantage of the ready supply of food. Last August during harvest I found a mouse nest and damaged potatoes nearby.  The longer the  potatoes are left in the ground, the more damage you’ll find.

Damaged sweet potato and white potatoes, harvested October, 2007.

I learned this lesson a few years back, when this picture was taken.  The rodent that damaged these potatoes made a hole straight down in the garden path, with a tunnel running right to the white potatoes, and left to the sweet potatoes. Clearly the sweet potatoes were its favorite.

By the way, both damaged potatoes and sweet potatoes store for weeks, even a few months, as long as there is no wet rot.

1/31/2012 After making the original post, I learned that the damage to the white potatoes was caused by wire worms. My main point is still valid though, vegetables left in the ground can be damaged by wild creatures.

February 25, 2010

Eating from the Garden in Winter: Leeks

Filed under: Gardening,Leeks,Root Cellar,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 12:28 pm

Leeks are biennials, so they store well in the ground.  It’s March and thus far no pests have bothered the leeks, not even the deer that left droppings 3′ from the leek patch.

'Tadorna' Leeks, 3/11/2010

Take a look at the picture. Note the melting snow.  We’ve had snow cover since mid-February, but it has finally melted enough to harvest again.

Note the bleached leaves of the leeks, caused, I think, by deep freezing before there was any snow cover.

Note the deep mulch – last fall I dumped about 8″ of shredded leaves over the leeks.  The leaves prevent the ground from freezing and as a result, I was able to  harvest through the winter – if I didn’t mind playing in the snow.

Note the freshly harvested leeks.  They are still tasty and good for eating. One will be on the pizza tonight.

These leeks are small because they are growing in the shadiest part of my garden, a spot that gets only 5-6 hours of sun a day. But they are still tasty, fresh, and very local.

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