Winter Solstice, 2011

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While I was working in the garden this afternoon, I unearthed some gorgeous, purple-skinned, ‘Caribe’ potatoes–the second or third generation of them we’ve grown. Even this late in the year, grown in a small bag, I was still able to pull out three large potatoes, a couple smaller ones, and four mini-tubers I’m hoping to use as seed for this spring. (Since we’ve already mashed and eaten the larger potatoes!)

Other known varieties of potatoes currently in the ground in the garden include ‘Amey Russet’, ‘Rose Gold’, ‘Red Thumb’ and ‘Harlequin’. I’m also nursing along four different potato seedlings grown with TPS from a ‘Toro Dude’ mother. We’ll see if any of them make it through to tuber production. I started with ten seedlings and I’m already down to 40%. They are growing in pots that I set outside during the day and bring inside at night. If any of these tiny plants produce a tiny tuber, I’ll try growing it out this spring to produce enough tubers for tasting. If one of them does well and tastes good, we’ll have a whole new variety to propagate.

TPS Potato PlantsOn this Solstice, I also harvested a handful of yams (the sweet potatoes were all eaten up several weeks ago) and a couple of carrots from a bed I was preparing for the new potato varieties I just ordered from PotatoGarden.com. I’m going to try their ‘Lehmi Russet’ which is supposed to yield better than the ‘Russet Burbank’. I’ll see how it compares with our ‘Amey Russets’ which the TaterMater boards say is a better yielder than ‘Russet Burbank’. (Poor ‘Russet Burbank’, why does everyone pick on that variety?) I’ll also be growing ‘Crackled Butterball’ to compare with the ‘German Butterball’ potatoes that have been very popular with us. I chose ‘Mountain Rose’ to expand my reds, since ‘Red Thumb’ is the only red that has done much of anything in the Dirt to Dinner garden so far. And ‘Purple Peruvian’ is a blue fingerling I’ll be trying to expand on the blues. There are still ‘All Blue’ potatoes popping up here and there around the garden, but the straggly volunteers have never really produced much of anything. I gave their mini-progeny a bed of their own for this year to see what we can do to revive them.

Two different types of spinach, many colors of chard, two kinds of kale, several lettuces, arugula, collards, carrots, mustard and turnips are all coming up in nursery beds or flats or volunteering in odd corners of the garden. There’s a whole patch of arugula seedlings in the middle of one of the paths that I’ve been trying to transplant as space opens up. And yesterday I started a big patch of ‘Sugar Snap’ peas. I started them under a trellis just in case they really do grow on 6′-8′ vines like the seed package said.

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