Potato Flowers and Flesh!

imageMmmm potatoes.  Boiled, fried, mashed, roasted, french fries, chips…    I love to grow potatoes.  I placed my order from Eagle Creek in Alberta on January 4th.  Last year I waited a week after the site opened for the year and missed out on the varieties that I wanted. It is amazing how quickly potatoes sell out!  The potatoes arrived on time & looked great – lots of eyes and no bad ones.  Eagle Creek have a great variety.  It is very hard to narrow it down to just a few to grow!

Potatoes are easy to grow.  As soon as you can work the soil in the Spring chit your seed potatoes by placing them in a paper bag to sprout eyes.  You can cut them or plant whole tubers.  I usually cut them in half, making sure that there are a few eyes on each piece.  After chitting, dig a trench and pop them in!  You can “hill them up” by covering the plants with soil as they grow.  I am usually busy doing a million other things and only manage to throw a bit more soil on top of the plants once or twice and still get a good yield.  If you rotate your garden beds, plant them in last year’s legume bed.  When the plants turn brown and die back they are ready to dig up and eat.

I haven’t taste tested any of this year’s crop yet, so the following taste & use descriptions are based on research and previous years experience.  I decided to do an early post about potatoes so I could get some nice flower pictures.  Most of the plants are flowering this week and the bed looks great!

PINK FIR APPLE

imagePopular in the UK, Pink Fir Apple is an old European heirloom from the 1850’s.   It is starting to get more popular in North America.  I picked it for its taste reviews, colour and that I love fingerling potatoes boiled then covered in butter & fresh mint.  This one is a fingerling variety that grows long, narrow, knobbly tubers.  They are pretty light pink skinned with butter yellow flesh.  The waxy texture makes it perfect for boiling and using in salads.  It is said to have a nutty flavour.  Good for storage, but just OK for production.  The bright white flowers have just started to die back on my plants.  This was the best photo that I could get!  It was the 3rd to flower this year.

DAKOTA PEARL

This is one of the 2 repeat varieties in my garden.  It is a smooth skinned round shape and has creamy white flesh.   This midseason variety was bread for making chips and I agree.  It’s dry floury flesh is perfect for chips.  The recipe is easy.  Slice the potatoes as thinly as you can – I use a mandolin, but a sharp knife works just a well.  Soak the slices in water over night.  They will be crisp by morning.  Brush on oil and bake – or if you grew up with a British parent, pull out the chip pan & fry them.  A Google search revealed Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm in Ontario is releasing a Dakota Pearl Ale made from sugars extracted from this type… Chips and beer.  Hubby will likely pick this one as his favourite.  It was the first to flower and I missed the picture.  Bah… pity, they were big yellow eye catching flowers.

CANDY CANE

This potato was very funky looking when I sliced it open in the spring to chit.  Red, smooth skinned and white flesh.  It gets its name from the pinkish red mottled ring about 1/4″ in from the skin.  The colour disappears when cooked.  It is a midseason sweet flavoured potato.  I picked this one to grow because it is a Diploid with 24 chromosomes instead of the usual 48.  Wild potatoes are usually Diploids and I wanted to see the difference.  It is a dry and floury fingerling type.  The flowers were the 2nd to open.  Lovely white and prolific.

ALL RED

imageI chose this variety so that I could make purple and red potato salad (with Russian Blue).  It is a bright cranberry red skinned tuber with red inner flesh. The colour was striking when I cut them to chit in the spring.  It holds its colour when cooked & should look amazing with the purple potatoes.  It is a midseason, moist potato said to have excellent rich flavour perfect for potato salad.  It is also supposed to be drought resistant.  I don’t think I will be able to test for lack of water this year, as it has rained enough to pass for English weather this summer!  I should have a great potato crop with the constant moisture!  It has very pretty large deep pink flowers in large clusters.  Pretty enough for the flower bed.

GERMAN BUTTERBALL

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1st place winner in virtually every taste contest.  It gets rave reviews and I can’t wait to try it!  I was lucky to get the seed potatoes this year.  They sold out just as I placed my order!  I was pleased to see it in the shipment, as I was on the borderline of getting a substitute.  Roasted, fried or mashed, this russet skinned tuber with buttery yellow flesh is a highly regarded all purpose potato.  Good for every recipe with great yields.  Excellent for long term storage. I wish that I had a root cellar.  It has been known to set True Potato Seed, but I haven’t seen any yet.  Its white flowers are lovely against the dark green foliage.

RUSSIAN BLUE

Pink fir appleThe other repeat in the garden.  The kids love the sweetness when roasted and the colour is fantastic.  It is a late season, heavy setting variety.  Dark purple skin and flesh that holds its colour when cooked.  It is high in starch and low in moisture content, so best baked.  Great roasted.  This is the only potato that I have grown from True Potato Seed (TPS).  It has set berries again this year, so hopefully I will have more to collect!  Usually potatoes are grown from seed potatoes (tubers), but some plants produce a small round berry.  Inside the berry are the tiny seeds, resembling tomatillos or ground cherries.  It takes me 2 years to get a crop from seed.  The first year is the spent forming the tubers.  The 2nd year I plant the tubers.  The flowers are a garden standout.  The lilac purple flowers stand quite tall and are very photogenic.

So….    That is the preview.  Hopefully I will get around to posting the taste test and growth results later in the summer!

flesh photos…

Pink Fir Apple

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                                        All Red

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                                     Candy Cane

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                                           Russian Blue

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