One potato, two potatoes

This winter we plan to look over the various crops we’ve planted in the past 9 growing seasons at Seven Trees Farm and decide which will give the best return on our limited time, energy and storage space in 2014.

Potatoes have been a steady favorite. While space consuming, they usually just do their thing without much intervention. Hill them a couple of times, knock back the worst of the weeds, and wait. Blight is the main threat, and there isn’t much to do about that other than mow down the bad vines before the tubers are affected.

Normal-shaped Rose Finn Apple fingerlings, ready for storage.
Normal-shaped Rose Finn Apple fingerlings, ready for storage.

We’ve grown Reddale, Butte, Desiree, Island Sunshine, Ozette, and many more, each with their good and less-than-good attributes. But this year we realized one type of spud was, more often than not, a pain.

Fingerlings. Usually touted as gourmet and heirloom in all the seed catalogs and hobby farm magazines, what often goes unmentioned is the potential for serious deformity.

Our climate is generally favorable for potatoes, even when things get unpredictable. But tubers go through a few growth spurts, and if that happens to coincide with a stretch of summer downpours, they go a little nuts. Not a big deal if we just wanted 20lbs. or so, but we try to grow spuds to last most of the year. Mutant fingerlings are too big and funky to store conveniently, and the knobs often break off, leaving the potato open to all kind of bad cooties.

These spuds had too much water at just the wrong time.
These spuds had too much water at just the wrong time.

So we are crossing fingerlings off our crop list in favor of sturdy dependable boring potato-shaped potatoes. The mutant tubers are getting cooked up in batches and fed to the flock as a treat. Potatoes are a high-carb food, and too many can cut down on egg production.

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