Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Potato Harvest

I finally got around to clearing out the rest of the plants, many of which are spread out on newspaper in my basement to dry out the skins a bit before packing them up for storage (some are already in the cold room).  I still need to turn over the potato garden for leftovers I may have missed and there are a few volunteers in the tomato garden from last year - but there shouldn't be too many left after this.

I harvested about 20 pounds of potatoes a couple of days ago.  Unfortunately, about a quarter of those had been nibbled on - voles, I suspect.  In fact, I chased a vole around the garden Friday morning trying to drown it with the hose but it disappeared down a hole.  I imagine there are hundreds in my yard.

The potato plants had died off and fallen over a couple of weeks ago but I just had not gotten a chance to pull them until this past week.  I really wish I had gotten to them sooner as the remaining crop was my beloved fingerlings!

Over the past month or so, I have been harvesting a few pounds of potatoes each week; mostly blue russians (I have no idea why I planted so many of those), as well as a smaller amount each of red chieftains, kennebec and yukon gold. But the remaining dozen or so plants were the fingerlings.  The first plant I pulled was almost perfect.  Almost 5 pounds from the one plant which is quite a large yield based on my personal history of growing potatoes.

As I pulled the next couple of plants, there were not as many potatoes.  And the potatoes there were had been nibbled.  Some were left with nothing but a partial skin.  They have been dumped into the compost (about 5 pounds worth in total).

I also noticed that many of the plants had been uprooted already.   A number of potatoes still attached to the plants were now lying on top exposed to the sun.  These have also been discarded as they are discoloured and I want to avoid any toxins.

Some had even started to sprout (in a weird way):

In the 10 years I have been growing potatoes I have never actually had a really deformed one.  But I had a few nifty ones this time around.  Where I used to live, the agricultural fair offered prizes for the vegetable most resembling a person or animal.  I think this one looks a bit like a hippo with a ponytail:

And this one looks like a mole lying on its back - see the "claws":

And this?  I don't know.

Other than my bean plants which were outright eaten (most likely deer), I did not have any damage similar to the potatoes in any other garden spaces.  Last year, I had grown pumpkins and watermelons in that same spot with no issues.  I was planning to put the garlic in that location in the next month or so but I wonder if I should avoid any plants that grow underground there?  On the other hand, maybe that is the best crop as I had heard of using garlic spray to keep voles and other pests out of the garden.

I won't even pretend that I can get rid of the voles, but any thoughts on what crops they are less likely to get into would be much appreciated so I can figure out what is best to put in that garden space next year (I will be doing some fencing next year but this space isn't a priority). 


  1. Oh, even with your difficulties I still so envy those luscious potatoes. A few pounds a week sounds like you harvested quite a lot over the summer. How well do they store into the fall/winter? Are they like onions & garlic (where homegrown store so much longer than store bought)?

    I know what you mean about leaving things in the garden too long before getting to them - I seem to be doing that an awful lot recently. That hippo potato is hilarious! And I'd say the last one looks like a seal on a leash..hehe

    1. Margaret: I store smaller potatoes in egg cartons (so they don't touch) and larger ones in layers of newspaper and dirt. They get a bit soft but will be good for eating through March if kept in the cold room. And yes I think they store longer than storebought which tend to start sprouting after a couple of months ...

  2. Too bad about the voles. I had them in my last garden. I knew because I saw them on occasion. But they never did any damage that I noticed. They left all my crops alone. I guess I was really lucky.

    1. Well, this is only my second growing season at this place. The first year was fine with no issues like this. Hopefully it is just something peculiar to this year (but I doubt it).