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The Last Harvest

October 17th, 2011

Except for possibly some spinach and arugula, I harvested the last major item from the 2011 edible garden. Last week, the remainder of the potatoes were exhumed from the earth and stashed away in the garage to provide sustenance through the winter. You might think it’s a little late to be harvesting potatoes and it is for me.

Generally, I plant potatoes early in the spring and harvest them in July. Here in NE Ohio we had a very wet spring which made planting potatoes early impossible .  Any that were planted in April rotted in their water graves. I planted fresh potatoes in their place at the beginning of June, and they grew beautifully all summer.  Potatoes planted earlier have less trouble with potato beetles.  I didn’t spot a single potato beetle here at Chiot’s Run.  We spotted one or two potato beetles at my mom’s house, but they were never a problem.

Since I had planted all of my saved seed potatoes in the spring, I didn’t have any seed potatoes left for replanting in June, so I ordered some from Wood Prairie Farm. I got 1 pound of ‘Elba’ and ‘King Harry’ and 2.5 pounds of ‘Butte’. They all grew well, but Butte outproduced the others by a lot, which isn’t surprising since they were in a section of the garden that has better soil. I harvested 15 pounds of ‘Butte’ from the seed potatoes.  I’m really interested to see how the later harvest affects the keeping abilities of the potatoes.  Theoretically, they should last later into the spring since they were harvested a few months after the other potatoes.

This isn’t my entire potato crop, some of them were were grown in the potager at my mom’s house. We planted them in May and harvested them in early September when we returned from vacation. They were actually ready to harvest much earlier, but we were on our Tiny Trailer Travels for most of August.

There’s something really great about growing a good crop of potatoes each year. Homegrown potatoes are much tastier than their supermarket counter parts and it sure is nice to have that secure feeling a good stockpile of potatoes gives you.   Even though potatoes and other food are readily available in the supermarket all winter long, it certainly gives you a sense of security to have a big box of potatoes in the pantry! This winter I’m experimenting with keeping my potatoes in the garage until it’s super cold, then in the outdoor basement stairwell. I’ll keep you updated on how the root cellar alternatives work out.

Do you grow potatoes in your garden? Do you grow enough to eat throughout the year? What do you think will be your last harvest from the garden?

For an in depth article about growing your own potatoes read this post on the Your Day Blog.

PS – love those gloves in the last photo? Ethel is retiring the Port Royale style and they’ll be 50% off this week.

25 Comments to “The Last Harvest”
  1. Mich on October 17, 2011 at 5:38 am

    I tend to grow some super early spuds in big tubs in the greenhouse, then have 1st earlies in the ground to follow them.
    I stick with 2nd earlies as my winter store crop, having the main spuds in the ground that bit longer….almost always get blight. grr.
    Certainly don’t grow anywhere near enough to keep us in spuds thru the winter but I am always knee deep in onions.
    Am happy with that trade off!

    What are the potato beetles you have problems with?
    In my garden in the UK, my main spud pest is eel worm.

    Reply to Mich's comment

    • Susy on October 17, 2011 at 6:18 am

      I’ve bean reading some interesting articles about how planting mustard as a cover crop in the area before you plant potatoes really helps with blight and other potato issues.

      Here’s some info on the Colorado Potato Beetle and the false Potato Beetle which it’s often confused with but isn’t considered a pest.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on October 17, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Store potatoes are gross. They often have a slightly sweet taste which, according to the MiL, is caused by them being stored at too low of a temperature. I guess that makes the starches turn into sugars or something. Anyway, gross.

    Yes, I grow enough for all year. They’re in my cellar at this very moment. The last crops, however–green beans, jalapenos, bell peppers, late-planted snow peas, and Chioggia pumpkins–are still awaiting the first frost, which is looking like maybe next week. End of October is pretty late for us, but we needed an extension on the fall growing season after such a difficult spring and summer.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. Andrea Duke on October 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Good morning!

    I get my potatoes from the local feed store here. I don’t mind just purchasing what they offer, which is Gold Yukon, Kennebec and Red Pontiac.

    This year I tried planting mine in straw. I loosened the soil up a little, my son and I threw the potatoes in and covered with straw. The plants grew well and flowered. I dug them up in August. Like you, we had a wet Spring, so I didn’t plant them until April.

    They did well. I didn’t plant enough to last all winter. I still have enough for lots of fried potatoes in the morning along with enough for about a dozen meals. I have a walk-in pantry in our garage that I keep our potatoes in. They are in boxes with newspaper over them.

    Your absolutely right about taste. They are nothing like what you buy in the supermarket! I just spent yesterday cleaning and seasoning some cast iron my Grandmother gave me and am going to try potatoes in one of them later this morning.

    Thanks for the nice post,

    PS. Peppers are what’s left in my garden right now :)

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  4. Jennifer Fisk on October 17, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I lifted about 8 inches of chicken litter, leaf and bunny doo compost and planted Yukon Gold seed potatoes. In Sept, I dug them and they really were pretty nice but not enough to last the winter. I’ll have to buy a bag at the Farmer’s Market.
    I have Kale and Brussels Sprouts left in the garden.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  5. kathi cookk on October 17, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Someday when I have more space I would like to try potatoes. They are far superior to store bought. I still have parsley,kale,swiss chard and very small amounts of side shoots from broocoli (which I picked the heads from in July).Wish I grew carrots-maybe next year. I know swiss chard and kale are very nutritious but I am growing very tired of them!

    Reply to kathi cookk's comment

  6. Songbirdtiff on October 17, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Lettuce and spinach will grow here past Thanksgiving, so I won’t have my “last” harvest for a while yet. However, I did just harvest the last of my jalepenos and a good bunch of oregano to dry in anticipation of the first frost coming Wednesday night. I still have a lot of kale and greens, but that was the last of the summer crops. Pulled them just in time to plant some garlic and egyptian walking onion.;)

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

  7. Allison on October 17, 2011 at 8:34 am

    We didn’t grow potatos this year, but from now on, we will! The potatos from the store are AWFUL and they rot within a week of buying them, everything, without fail. It is so disappointing.

    Reply to Allison's comment

  8. goatpod2 on October 17, 2011 at 8:44 am

    My Dad grew potatoes, we still have some left.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  9. Brittany P. on October 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

    We planted Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold potatoes this year and got quite a bit off them but we have used them all up. This was our first year planting potatoes so we were not sure how much to plant. We are going to plant more next year though cause we LOVE potatoes around here.
    Our last crop standing were our peppers, the banana peppers and the jalepeno peppers. I have to admit that my son brought in a bagfull yesterday and then we pulled the still producing plants because we wanted to inact our soil improvement plan I mentioned (the leaves had composted down beautifully) and plant the cover crop.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  10. Rhonda on October 17, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’ve never grown potatoes, but now you have convinced me to try growing some. I think I may just give it a shot next season!

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  11. MAYBELLINE on October 17, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I tried growing potatoes once but fungus got the better of them. My garden produces year round so there is never an end. I envy you. The last of the summer crops are beans, peppers, & tomatoes. All the winter veggies are in and thriving.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  12. daisy on October 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

    We love spuds here, but have more luck with sweet potatoes. You’ll be eating well this winter! You have quite the green thumb!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  13. Marcia on October 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I don`t know what it is with my soil but I grow super huge spuds, some as big as plates! I have more than enough as I went a little crazy when I planted then last spring (90 hills!) I must have harvested at least 400 pounds+ of 4 different varieties. My last crops were carrots and beets, which I harvested this past Saturday since it`s getting quite cold up here.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  14. Ashley on October 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    We also grow potatoes- we grew red and russet this year. I am storing them in mesh tubs in our cool basement in hopes they will last for some time. We just pulled out the last of our tomatoes, which were still producing, but the frosts are slowly creeping up and I’d rather pull them than have them freeze!
    We also have 2 small cold frames, in which we have lettuce, spinach and chard. They were planted about a month ago and i forgot how lovely new greens are! I was getting used to the tougher, late-season stuff that appeared in the garden in August!

    Reply to Ashley's comment

  15. Nebraska Dave on October 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Susy, yup I have potatoes. It’s one of my vegetables that I like the best. I haven’t harvested the main crop yet but I sneaked out a plant or two for early potatoes about a month ago. They were yummy tasty. Yukon Gold are not the best keepers so I grow just enough to last a month or two. My space was limited but next year will be a different year with more property to garden. It’s great to be able to expand the garden to grow larger crops and then be able to store more away for those winter months.

    Have a great harvest/storage day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  16. Tommy on October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I had potatoes volunteer from my compost soil. When I started gardening about 5 years ago, I put everything in the compost bin. The next year, I had this odd plant come up in the middle of the garden. I had no idea what it was (had never seen potatoes growing before), but I let it go to see if any veggies showed up on the odd volunteer.
    Well, no veggies showed up, the plant started to die a little, so I decided to pull it. And lo and behold, there were magical potatoes underneath! I laughed so hard at my ignorance! So, every year, I get more volunteers from the same spot. I obviously must not be pulling the entire plant when I pull them, but that one volunteer now generates about 5 pounds of potatoes.
    So this year, I actually ordered a couple of pounds of seed potatoes from an organic nursery, and I’m eagerly awaiting to plant them and harvest a real crop of potatoes!
    I agree with other posters, the homegrown potatoes taste so much better than store bought!
    In answer to your question, about a month ago I planted my fall/winter garden—broccoli, cauliflower, beets, lettuces, radishes, cabbages, cilantro, etc. I live in southern ca, so I get to garden year-round. First of the crops will be ready in about 2 weeks. Can’t wait!

    Reply to Tommy's comment

  17. Lonni on October 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I learned a lot about growing potatoes this year. We decided not to irrigate, because our well was having issues. This summer was wetter than normal through the early part of July, then dry right through September. My yields were low, and most of the potatoes were small. But dry cropping potatoes can be done– though you will need a lot of space. I ended up with about 100 lbs of spuds from a 30′ x 20′ patch, not counting new potatoes harvested during the summer. It will get us by for several months. I’m going to plant the same size patch next year, but water regularly (the well is back online now).

    Reply to Lonni's comment

  18. Sincerely, Emily on October 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    What beautiful potatoes. I would like to grow potatoes one day. Basically, year-round gardening here. But for most plants there is usually an end when the heat of summer hits and then a beginning to the fall/winter plants. My pepper plants from the spring planting are starting to look happy again and flower, so I might actually get some bell peppers from then. And there are a few chard plants that have hung on since last fall. Everything else is newly planted.

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  19. Jennifer Fisk on October 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I forgot, I still have beets in the ground.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  20. Tony Scott on October 18, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I don’t and I can’t, even if I want to, plant anything here in the city that is why I really envy those who live in the suburbs or those living in places where there is soil to do a little farming. Congratulations, you have something I don’t have. I’ll just follow your blogs to at least have a feel of what you are doing. Thanks

    Reply to Tony Scott's comment

  21. Estelle on October 18, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Tony, you can grow herbs and baby lettuce in containers. So easy. Two standard rectangular containers provide my husband and me with enough greens in the spring and fall.

    Reply to Estelle's comment

  22. Lynn on October 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    It was a great year for potatoes here. We haven’t bought potatoes to eat in years! Ours last into the spring. We usually have a few months of no potatoes but start eating them again in the summer when we sneak some little “new” potatoes from the plants.
    We still have a big carrot harvest yet to do. They are holding well in the garden.

    Reply to Lynn's comment

  23. ElizaJ on October 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I live in New England. I harvested potatoes the end of August and left some in to harvest in September. The ones I dug in August were perfect. The ones I dug in September had holes and marks where something tunneled into them. The carrots were affected the same way. Have you ever had that problem?

    Reply to ElizaJ's comment

    • Susy on October 23, 2011 at 6:23 am

      Sometimes yes, although usually I dig my potatoes right after the foliage dies back, I plant later to harvest later. I usually just cut the damaged parts out.

      You should try some cover crop rotation to help with this, I hear mustard works well in the area you’re planning on planting potatoes. Grow the previous season (so in fall for spring potatoes planting).

      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.

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