Sunday, October 2, 2011

Potato Harvest

We sure harvested a lot of potatoes this week! We had some dry weather at the beginning of the week so we were able to use our potato digger, an implement for our tractor. The potato digger is awesome because it goes down the bed and lifts the soil, dislodging the potatoes from the ground. Then we follow behind and pick up the potatoes that have been exposed and do a little bit of digging to uncover the ones that were covered with soil. A lot of farmers dig potatoes by hand with a digging fork. Our backs are very grateful this is not the process we use! But even though we have a potato digger, the potato harvest is not a quick process. We grow a large field of many different varieties and it takes time to get them out of the ground. We grow the traditional red and gold varieties, Russets, a blue potato, a potato that is red both inside and out, and gold and red fingerlings.

We also grow sweet potatoes! We are one of just a few farmers in the state that grow them because they are a challenging crop. Not only do they prefer warmer climates, but the deer love to eat the foliage and rodents love to eat the potatoes in the ground. To promote their growth and survival, we plant sweet potato slips (which are basically sweet potato seedlings) in black plastic and then immediately cover them with a fabric row cover. This provides two layers of warmth. This year we did not have a lot of pest pressure and the potatoes look huge and beautiful! Right now they are being stored in our warm basement so they cure. Curing helps develop their sweetness.

The Crew and their harvest!
Yay for potatoes!

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