Spud Love: Red Thumbs

June 22, 2010 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

By Camille Armantrout

With all the CSA action going on around us, we hardly have to grow anything in our own garden.  But Bob could no more stop growing food than a fish could stop breathing water, so this year he decided to plant more of the things we usually end up buying at the grocery store.

That would be potatoes, onions and garlic.  Now, of course we get some white potatoes in our CSA boxes and in the fall we get enough sweet potatoes to see us through the winter, but we like the whites so much, we end up buying them even in the summer.

Bob and I come by our love of spuds honestly, being as how we both have Irish ancestors.  We love them baked, boiled, roasted, in soups and salads, deep fried, scalloped and mashed with gravy.  We especially like the creamy taste of fingerling potatoes, so Bob planted several varieties of those.

The first potatoes to mature were the Red Thumbs.  Planted in March, these ninety day potatoes were ready to harvest this week.  Bob dug up the bed, set up wash buckets and brought in seventeen pounds of beautiful potatoes all cleaned and ready to throw in a pot or pan.  What an amazing return on the initial investment of the pound of seed potatoes he used to start the plants!

We had them with margarine and chives the first night.  Baked with beets, onions and carrots (also from the garden) after that.  Yesterday I made a tasty potato leek soup.  Next up will be potato salad.  Naturally, we’re sharing them with our neighbors, too.

Potatoes have a higher ratio of readily available protein (when eaten with their skins) than soy beans, which explains why the Irish population doubled from four million to eight million in only sixty-five years after potatoes reached their shores from the Andes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the great potato famine, there’s a lesson to be learned.  Mono cropping can be fatal.  Unlike the Incas, who preserved potato biodiversity by cultivating thousands of varieties, the Irish farmers grew primarily only one kind of potato – the “lumper.”  Tragically, a blight struck down the lumper, causing them to rot in the fields and a million people starved.  Another million fled to the new world, likely our ancestors among them.

I’m keeping an eye out our kitchen window for Bob to dig up more tasty tubers as the other potato beds mature.  And while fingerlings don’t store well, I think we can keep up with them.  It’s hard to imagine ever having too many potatoes!

Entry filed under: Camille Armantrout, Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Food. Tags: , .

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