Harvesting Potatoes

Our potato plants have finally all died back, and we dug the rest of them up:


All of these were our red potatoes. Earlier in the summer we harvested the white ones, because those plants died back more quickly. Some of them are double potatoes, with an older one that has sprouted a newer potato on top, connected like siamese twins. We brushed off the dirt and let them dry in the sun before packing them into paper bags and storing them in the basement. That should be just the right spot for them: cool, dark, and fairly humid. We're hoping they keep through the winter so we have veggies in the cold months.

Usually we eat a bunch of a harvest fresh right away, but most of these have gone into storage precisely because they should keep well. I'm not sure how far 10 to 15 pounds of potatoes is going to get us, and I suspect that we'll be planting a lot more next year. We'll also try to get them in a sunnier spot and monitor our hilling up system more closely — we didn't get many potatoes growing farther up the plant in the boxes. Overall, I think these needed more sun and more frequent doses of manure and/or compost. Also, they were eaten at by something, and we didn't really do anything to manage that. 

We do have a lot of extra soil from the hills to take care of, and the boxes to put away:


Slowly, the garden is emptying out for the season, and I ordered some winter rye seed today. We'll rake the soil in the bare spots and sow the rye for a winter cover crop, then turn it into the soil in the spring. I chose rye because it's supposed to be tough enough to plant up until Halloween or so. It was too late for crimson clover, which was my first choice because it would have been pretty in the spring. We've never done a cover crop before, but because this garden is so big, it seemed like the most economical "mulch" for protecting our fallow soil.

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