Friday, July 29, 2016

A Good Finish

It's been a busy week or so, but a productive one.  I finished the editing project I took on--on very short notice--at the start of the month.

And I finished five days early, thank you very much.  So I felt really good about the extent to which I stayed focused and on track with that.

That said, I still need to finish the article that I've been working on... forever.  I set myself an end-of-the-month deadline for that as well, so... fingers crossed.

But in the meantime, while procrastinating on that, I guess you could say, I managed to get my courses ready for the fall.  So those are poised for the start of the semester which is, at this point, only about a month away.


Sorry, couldn't help that.

And this week marked a little gardening triumph.  Last April, I planted potatoes in both a tower and in a raised bed.  On Wednesday, I decided to bite the bullet and see how the plants in the raised beds had fared.

Planting potatoes isn't difficult, per se, but it has some little quirks.  The largest of which is that you can't really see how, when or even IF the plant is actually producing potatoes.  You'll have foliage, you'll have flowers, you'll even have "fruit" appearing above ground, but the actual potatoes themselves?

They grow as "tubers" on the "stolons" that form underground  Like so:


There are a couple of ways to tell if things are going okay: one of my friends told me, "If you've got flowers, that's a good sign."

And the foliage should look healthy, obviously--because potato plants will just grow upwards seemingly indefinitely, and if you keep piling dirt up over the leaves and around the stem ("hilling"), you will get more potatoes (at least in theory).

So this was the theory behind the potato towers that I built.  But because I had never grown potatoes before, I decided to also plant them in a raised bed and see what happened--that way, I could decide which was easier or more productive.

The only way to harvest potatoes, is to dig around the plant (carefully) and extract the potatoes, or dig it up (carefully) and then put it back.

I started by digging around the plant a bit to see if there were any potatoes at all (my fear being, obviously, that there wouldn't be) and what size they were.  If you wait and let the foliage die back, you'll have better-sized tubers (potatoes), but you can also harvest "new" potatoes, which will be smaller.

So this is what I initially found, when I dug around the base of one of the plants:

On the basis of this, I made an executive decision (formulated as "oh, what the hell--why not just dig them up?" and I dug the 4 plants in the raised beds up.

This was the result:

Potatoes!  Both red and yukon gold, in a variety of sizes (and shapes).

That's a 10 qt bucket, so that means that, from 4 plants, I got (very roughly) about 20 lbs of potatoes.

I put the decent-sized ones in the basement to "cure."  This means letting them rest so that their skins toughen up a bit, and the you can sort through and deal with any that are diseased or problematic.  They have to be stored in the basement because, if exposed to light, potatoes will take on a greenish color.

If they do, it means they've produced "solanine" and shouldn't be eaten until you peel them and remove the green (it's a sign of chlorophyll, which tends to suggest the plant is producing solanine as well).  If they're really green,'d have to eat quite a few to get actually sick and they aren't going to taste very good, in all likelihood.

Luckily, my potatoes aren't green, and I have a nice darker corner in a humid basement, so they're resting comfortably.

In the meantime, however, I ate the smaller ones (because I have cats and if you line up a bunch of small, golf-ball sized objects on a shelf, you're just asking for trouble).

Here's what they looked like, all ready to be made into herbed-salt-and-vinegar potatoes:

The ones that weren't eaten?  Well, stored in a dark basement at temps above 40 degrees Farenheit, they should last for several months.  Stored at a slightly lower temp (35-40 degrees F), they'll last about six months.

But I don't have a root cellar, so I'm simply going to have to monitor and eat them before they go bad.

And given how good they taste, I don't foresee that being a problem.

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