The Santa Clara Master Gardeners new Growing Charts list potatoes as a cool weather crop that should be planted in March or April. Which is great. I’ve got a few around here I’ve been meaning to tuck in somewhere. But, let’s just say it was November and you happened to find some red-skinned potatoes in the pantry sprouting their hearts out. And you also happened to have about 15 square-feet available in a bed that could be hilled pretty easily. Well, you couldn’t just toss the poor potatoes into the compost pile and leave that space bare ground, could you? Of course not! It’s worth a try isn’t it? And then when it was March or April, as your friends and neighbors were planting their potatoes, maybe you could be harvesting some of your own.
In other words, I planted potatoes at the exact opposite time of year that I was supposed to. I eventually tucked in some Sugar Daddy snap peas between the rows and hoped for the best.
And it was cold and wet this winter, more so than usual. And we had frost for several days in a row in January. And something chewed some of the leaves. And at the end there was a Blight panic which turned out just to be some sort of brown spots on the potato leaves from all the spring rain.
Of course, they also grew nearly 20 pounds of beautiful, delicious red-skinned potatoes. I also had one or two All Blue potatoes mixed in from seed I saved from last year. I gave the blues a lot of room because I think we got a disappointing harvest from them in 2009 because they were too crowded together.
“The Vegetable Growers Handbook” says that if you do things right you can expect 1 to 2 pounds of potatoes per square foot of potato plants grown. We ended up with nearly twenty pounds out of a scant fifteen or so square-feet. So I think that means the potato plants were happy and healthy enough even though they were planted to grow through the winter.
Certainly an experiment I would be happy to cook up again.