22 Jul Potato Harvest 2019
Potato harvest time has come to the Well Fed Community Garden! This year we partnered with NC State Extension and a potato breeder at NC State to try out some fun and different varieties. Some were new varieties and some were typical potato varieties, such as Yukon Gold. NC State Extension gave us 23 different potato varieties in all. The goal was to see how the varieties grew here and how well they produced.
You can harvest potatoes as soon as they start sizing up. If you harvest them early, when the plant still has green foliage, they are new potatoes. New potatoes taste great, but their skins are soft and fragile and they do not store well. To harvest for storage and maximum yield, you must wait until the plants are completely dead. This allows time for the skin to toughen up. Above is a potato plant well on its way to being ready for harvest. In the background, you can see some potato plants that are completely dead and ready for harvest.
For bigger farms producing potatoes, a potato plow, an implement attached to the back of a tractor, is used to unzip the row of potatoes and bring them up to the surface. Because we are a small operation we used our hand and small trowels. Our interns said it was like digging for buried treasure and it really did feel that way with all of the beautiful different colors of each variety of potato. Potato harvest is a fun way to get your hands good and dirty in the soil.
During our harvest we made sure to take notes on how each variety grew and the total weight of potatoes we harvested per variety. A few varieties really stood out to us as great producers and we are excited to try growing them again next year! Below you can see some of the variety in skin color of the potatoes; some were yellow, white, purple/blue, and red.
Above is a US Blue potato cut in half. It has a beautiful purple skin and a white/mosaic flesh inside. We had some varieties with purple skin and white flesh inside and others that had purple skin and purple flesh inside. It was really fun getting to see the different color combinations of each variety.
Pictured above are all of the potatoes boxed up after harvest and ready to go to NC State Extension. The potatoes will then be brought to different restaurants in Raleigh to explore what the subtle differences in taste are for each potato variety and what varieties are the chef’s favorites. Since we are in partnership with Irregardless Cafe, we also set some aside to bring to Irregardless Cafe for Chef Arthur Gordon to investigate which potato variety is his favorite.
Farmer Heather was able to go to a special potato tasting with Chef Ashley Christensen, where they were able to compare the nuanced flavor of each potato variety. Pictured below are the more than 20 potato varieties they tasted.