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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Until she runs out of room out there

What with the price of certified potatoes, we try to stretch ours out for three or four years before we start over with certifieds. There's supposed to be a risk of blight when you do that but we haven't encountered it yet.

Here we have, on the left, a sack of spuds from the cold room, going on their third year, reds, Yukon Golds, and German Butterballs, which are like the Yukons but russeted. The reds easily outperform the other two, and get preference in replanting, even though we like the golds a bit better for flavor. You can see they've sprouted in the dark, averaging eight inches or so.

In the center, we're cutting up some of the spuds for "chitting" -- Risa seldom plants a whole spud larger than a baseball, preferring to make two or more "seed potatoes" from a single large one. She makes sure there are eyes or sprouts on each piece. Very large potatoes may be separated into a couple of "chits" and a chunk for kitchen use -- those are the ones behind the cutting board, which will be diced small, with the skins on, fried up in light peanut oil with some diced elephant garlic and some fresh greens, and served with a fried trout. No sprouts are included in this -- they look tempting but have too many alkaloids.

On the right is the basket of chits. They will sit overnight, for the cuts to dry out some, and then be taken to the garden to be set on top of the soil in the beds and covered with straw. They'll sprout up easily through the straw, and, with any luck, when the tops die back, the straw will be pulled aside and the crop picked up -- most of it will be right there on top of the ground.

She'll put out a basketful every two weeks or three, until she runs out of room out there.

Are you planting potatoes this year?

Potatoes quickly sautéed in oil and sprinkled with a mixture of garlic and parsley are in the domain of what the French call cuisine bonne femme. A bonne femme is a homemaker who has the knack of preparing simple and delicious dishes on the spur of the moment, as well as cooking long-simmering dishes when she has the time. Lydie Marshall, A Passion For Potatoes.


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