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Surprise Harvest

July 21st, 2011

When I was harvesting my garlic earlier this week I got a bonus harvest: potatoes.

Last year the area where the garlic was planted was used to grow a crop of potatoes. Invariably a few of the tiny potatoes hide in the soil, overwinter, and grow into small potato plants. They never produce heavy yield of potatoes, but you’ll find one or two small potatoes when you pull up the plant.

I ended up with a small potato harvest along with my garlic harvest. Since I happened to making a big pot of beef stew that day, I scrubbed them up and threw them in the pot. I’m always happy for an unexpected harvest of things I didn’t plant!

Do you ever have volunteer potatoes?

18 Comments to “Surprise Harvest”
  1. Andreae on July 21, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I have a great volunteer potato store here:

    Yes, we call him Kenny the Wonder Spud. I have high hopes for Kenny.

    Reply to Andreae's comment

    • Rhonda on July 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm

      I love how you used the crock to protect it! Good thinking!

      Reply to Rhonda's comment

  2. Melissa on July 21, 2011 at 7:51 am

    What a timely post! How’d you know I was going to dig potatoes today?!! :)

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  3. Rhonda on July 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I don’t have any potato volunteers but I’ve got tomato volunteers everywhere! They’re all around my compost pile. I guess the discarded tomatoes and pieces of them rolled off the pile and made a little volunteer hedge. They’re also next to my back deck and along my fence line. I’m letting all of them grow just to see what we get. So far I know we’ve got some yellow pear tomatoes. To me, any food that volunteers to grow, is welcome to stay! I’ve also got a couple of sunflowers popping up right now in the middle of my tomatoes. I don’t know if they’ll have time to bloom before the frost comes this year, but I’m letting them stay and we’ll see.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  4. Allison on July 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Not potato’s, but onion and some kind of ‘mystery’ squash!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  5. harper on July 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

    We have a cherry tomato volunteer and a bunch of butternut squash growing out of the compost pile. :)

    We are thinking of starting a tea garden next season, do you have many plants that you dry and use in teas? Chamomile, mints (obviously), lavender, lemon balm, etc, etc. If you do, what sorts of “tea plants” have you found to grow well? Our climate is very similar to NE Ohio. THANKS!!

    Reply to harper's comment

    • Susy on July 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

      Sounds like you have a great list going. In addition to these I also have some: bergamot (blue stocking), anise hyssop, catnip, lavender and catmint. I have a few varieties of mint: mountain mint, true peppermint (must get some from root cuttings if you want some true peppermint), spearmint, catmint. You can also add some nettles (or wild harvest them), alfalfa and red clover for their powerful vitamin & mineral components. I also have a good stand of comfrey, which I use for teas and healing poultices, read up on it and decide if you’re comfortable using it, personally I think it’s safer than taking OTC drugs. I also grow lemongrass, ginger, lemon verbena and lemon geranium in pots that come inside during the cold winter. There are some wild plants I harvest as well for teas: wild violets, creeping charlie and a few other wild herbs that abound here at Chiot’s Run. Don’t forget about the healing property of savory teas, especially when you have a cold. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic and red pepper tea will do wonders for clearing up chest congestion and other baddies.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimH on July 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm

        Great list!! Havent thought about making teas of some of these in years & years.. Thanks for the reminder!

        to KimH's comment

      • harper on July 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

        That’s a fantastic list! I’ve thought about comfrey, but haven’t come up with a real solid opinion yet. I guess I’ll have to do some more research. Thanks so much for the great reply!

        to harper's comment

  6. risa on July 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

    We actually get a heavy yield from our volunteers! They’ve become welcome guests in most of the beds.

    Reply to risa's comment

  7. Sande on July 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

    No potato volunteers, but I read that one can dig and harvest the potatoes then replant them if there are still ‘babies’ on the roots so I did that this year. So far the plante are doing ok. I’ll just leave them in the ground now until the plants die back then dig to see what’s under there. The Bintje were mostly done so I only replanted one, but the Purple Viking had a fair number of babies still wanting to grow.

    Reply to Sande's comment

  8. MAYBELLINE on July 21, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I have had them. My harvesting just wasn’t complete.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  9. Daedre Craig on July 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I actually have volunteer potatoes in my chicken run. I grew potatoes there last year (and they were terrible), but I must have missed a few. It’s funny because the chickens have completely destroyed all other plant life inside their enclosure except for the tiny potato plants (they won’t eat them).

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  10. KimH on July 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Nope, no potato babies for me.. but I do have little garlic bulblettes that grow all over the place. I just pull them off the bulb & replant them when Im harvesting them and then thin them out if they’re too thick in the fall.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  11. Lynda on July 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I have TONS of potato volunteers! Tomato, summer squash, pumpkin, melon, onion, shallot and cucumber volunteers this year! I feel like my garden has doubled in size!

    Reply to Lynda's comment

  12. Grace on July 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Yes I did, which encouraged me to plant more. Potatoes are one of favorite vegetables to grow–I like digging for the treasure.

    Reply to Grace's comment

  13. Jaspenelle on July 25, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Are some of those All Blues? I just harvested baby ones on Saturday (my first ever potatoes.)

    I accidentally let my leaf lettuce go to seed last year and gosh, it is everywhere now.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

    • Susy on July 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Yep, All Blues and some carola and I also got some Purple Viking.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
A Bountiful Garlic Harvest

Earlier this week I harvested my garlic. This is now the third year that I've grown garlic and this was...