Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Potatoes

We planted potatoes this fall as an experiment. And look how happy the plants are! Much happier, I should say, than they were during the summer. Summers in the District of Columbia are typically so hot and humid, especially July and August.

In truth, potatoes are a cool weather plant, unlike their cousins, tomatoes and peppers. Most other plants love this time of year: the Swiss chard, for instance, have never looked better. The rhubarb are in the pink of health. The sorrel, the thyme, the rosemary--they are all flush with vigor and vitality.

I wish I could give our garden more weather like this. There is an added benefit to the garden: the pests and diseases that might otherwise bother our crops are in full retreat. Of course the potatoes will not stand up to a hard freeze. We are hoping they will last long enough to at least make some small potatoes that we can cook for dinner.

This week I was weeding in the potato bed--yanking all that chickweed that also loves these cool temperatures so much--and came across several seed potatoes that are sprouting, but so far have not broken the surface. It will be fun to watch their progress.


Tamra said...

I tried fall potatoes for the first time too this year. I am in zone 6, Nashville; my potatoes are about the size of yours. However we have had 2 nights that went down to 25. While I covered the bed with remay on those nights, I still have a few leaves with frost damage. But I know, from experience with late spring freezes, that the plants will rebound.

I am amazed at all I can grow in winter here.

Joanna said...

Yes, mountain plants. I wonder, though, just how frost-tender they are - dahlias, for instance (another tuber), manage two degrees under without trouble - it's the wet that does for them. Here, in temperate UK, potatoes do just fine in our not-very-hot-or-even-warm summers

Hope you manage to get some good meals from these


PS you probably know you can eat chickweed, raw in a salad if it's young, or braised if it's a little older

Pattie Baker said...

And Ed, try that chickweed on a sandwich (like sprouts). Delicious!

Ed Bruske said...

Tamra, your experience makes me think that potatoes might do very well in the cold months under a plastic tunnel.

Joanna, we will find out soon enough how these potatoes do as the overnight temps are getting close to freezing. But it cold be well into December before we have a really hard freeze. I'll keep you posted.

Pattie, haven't tried the chickweed on a sandwich, but we have made chickweed pesto (mix it with some basil pesto for flavor).