What’s Growing on the Homestead: Red Pontiac Potatoes
I thought I would take advantage of a cold and rainy day to start a new series. Each of these posts will feature a plant we currently have growing here at LBF. I’m going to kick it off with one of the plants I’m most excited about: Irish potatoes.
Potatoes are incredibly easy to grow in most climates and give you a lot of food bang for your effort and expense. One pound of seed potatoes can produce up to 10 pounds of eating potatoes. That’s a lot of return for your investment. They are a good source of nutrients and are very calorie dense. These are the two primary reasons potatoes have long been grown as a subsistence crop in much of the world. Plus, they are dang good eating. I come from a Irish family, so I’ve eaten potatoes in every manner possible.
Unfortunately, potatoes don’t grow well in the Deep South. They don’t handle the combination of high heat and higher humidity very well and are prone to any number of fungal diseases and insect attacks. Sweet potatoes are traditionally substituted for them in the summer garden. It is possible to get a spring crop in if you plant early and get good weather. I’ve never tried it, but we decided to take the plunge this year and we must be having beginner’s luck, because the plants are growing great.
You can choose from dozens, if not hundreds, of different varieties. We chose Red Pontiac potatoes. This is a pretty red potato with white flesh. It’s great for mashing and is a good storage variety. Here’s a picture of the spuds, snagged from the seed company we ordered the seed potatoes from.
Hmm. I can’t wait to eat them.
We’re growing them using the hilling method. We cut the seed potatoes up, buried them under a few inches of soil, and then hilled dirt around them when they were about 18 inches tall, then hilled then again with straw when they’d grown another foot. We’ve only watered them once since planting; Mother Nature has done the rest. They started flowering yesterday, so it won’t be long before the tubers size up, the vines die back, and it’s time to harvest.
I can’t wait!