M and I dug up our 4 rows of potatoes this evening. We were fairly disappointed after our first row--golds. Most of them had been nibbled on by mice and were being further broken down by nature's composting helpers. We managed to save a few for "immediate" use, but we certainly didn't get a return on our investment. Not enough for storage to even register on our scale when we tried to weigh them.
At the end of that first row was a transplant or two we had discovered early in the year as volunteers in other parts of the garden--a couple of reds. They did really well, those two. They produced almost as many potatoes as the entire row of golds.
The second row was our russets. Not a huge number of potatoes, but boy, were those things big! We got a paper grocery bag of russets, 17.5 pounds. They won't go very far, but they'll store. Still, we were wondering if the potatoes were a return on investment, as russets aren't really expensive in the store.
The third row proved to be much more fruitful. This was a row of reds. They went hog wild. Most of them were nibble free and had grown without snarls and damage. (Yay!) We had so many potatoes from this row that when M started to uncover the fourth row, I had to sit down to clean and sort the reds from this row. It was certainly more than just a handful of potatoes to wipe the dirt and bugs off of...it was an entire pile. Now we were thinking we may have gotten our investment back in seed potatoes and straw and fertilizer--not to mention the richness that the potatoes and straw seemed to be adding to our once low-nutrient soil. It was clear where the potatoes were, as the soil was much darker and richer, though still more compact than we'd like.
M dug up the fourth row while I cleaned all the reds. We knew the fourth row wouldn't be too productive, as the plants hadn't gotten very large this year, but M was digging and uncovering almost the entire time I was cleaning that huge pile of reds. This row seemed a mixture of russets and reds for some reason. Again, we had more of these damaged like the first row.
It seems our experiment of simply working up the first inch or two of soil and mixing in some fertilizer worked. We simply laid the seed potatoes on that softer earth and covered with straw, then kept covering the plants with straw as they grew. Yes, that was much better for growing spuds this year than putting them in the heavy, clay-like, waterlogged soil so prevalent on our property.
All told, we brought in a lot of potatoes this year:
21.5 lbs (mixed) for "immediate" use
8.5 lbs small reds
17 lbs medium reds
11 lbs large reds
17.5 lbs russets
Grand total: 75.5 lbs of spuds. With all those tasty reds, we're going to have a lot of garlic mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!
* Stringham high: gardening
* Stringham low: disappointing gold potatoes
* Stringham super-high: almost half of M's body weight in potatoes for the year!