Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

A Potato Farmer I Am?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

With cold weather coming and our plans to change the garden next Spring, I needed to get the potatoes dug out this weekend.  Truthfully, I was pretty sure I was going to find nothing in there.  You may remember that we tried rather unsuccessfully to grow potatoes in plastic laundry tubs in in 2011. We didn't grow potatoes, but we did have a bumper crop of bugs!

Then we built some raised potato bins in 2012 and, after a scorching hot summer that year, the potatoes died and we were too comfy in the air conditioning to even venture out and dig around to see if anything was left.

This year, we had a full bin of volunteer Yellow Finn potato plants (well, I certainly didn't plant them!).  Digging them out was pretty easy - I just grabbed two of the vertical corner boards and tilted the whole bin over (click the link above to see how the boxes are built) and then used a hand spade to pop them up.  They were all very near the surface, so it was easy peasy..

As you can see, I got a dizzying array of sizes!

Most of what popped up first was those little bitty ones that are about the size of a pea.  Talk about discouraging!  But the more I dug, the more the larger ones started to show up.  Those potatoes on the right are about average size for Yellow Finn, which are very similar to Yukon Gold.

I also found a couple of plants that I thought were really educational about how potatoes grow.  Check this out...

The plant grows upward from the original cut potato (from the eye) and then the roots form just above that.  The new potatoes then grow from those roots.  You can really see those little potatoes forming on that plant on the left.  Neat, huh?

By the time dusk arrived and I was finished with the two bins, I had about half a bucket of potatoes - some are edible size and the others I think I'm going to use for seed potatoes for next year. 

Potatoes have a long shelf life and will easily last 7 or 8 months if cared for and stored properly.
So why don't we go over some tips for using and storing them?

  • Clean potatoes before storing them. If you have sandy soil, just brush the soil off.  But if you have sticky clay soil like me, the potatoes will need to be washed. Make sure they are completely dry before placing them in storage or they will mold.
  • Once they've been cleaned, they need to cure for a week to 10 days in moderate temperatures (65 degrees) and high humidity (85 to 95 percent).  This will harden them off and heal any injuries caused during harvest, so they'll last longer.
  • Sort out any injured and diseased potatoes before storing them long-term. You'll want to east the ones that you hit with your shovel, any that have bad spots, etc. within a month of harvest because they won't last long.  
  • Put the best potatoes in well-ventilated containers and store them in a dry room with constant temperature of 35 to 40 degrees and moderate humidity. The room should be kept dark, as light will turn them green and make them unfit for table use. Discard potatoes with an excessive amount of greening because they can actually be poisonous.
  • Grow potatoes that keep well. Red potatoes don't keep as long as yellow or white varieties. Thin-skinned potatoes don't last as long in storage as those with thick skins, such as Russets.
Well, I know I have sure learned a lot about potato growing, and I hope you picked up a tip or two also.  If I were a Boy Scout, I'd be asking for my Potato Farmer patch because...well...I think I can now say I know how to grow potatoes.  :-)


  1. I'm giving up growing potatoes, so much work for so little return for me. We just don't use that many potatoes any more. No more back breaking digging, either!

  2. What a great post. I admit I had to chuckle when I read about your bumper crop of bugs. Sounds like my compost worm bin fail!

    I just have to share my exciting news too, I just published my homesteading book. I'm so excited I want to tell the whole world! Please do drop by my blog to help me celebrate!


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