Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Corn Flower?

Nope. Potato flower.
But you gotta love that bright yellow, cob-shaped stamen. I've never seen such a thing before, since this is only my second time growing potatoes.
The first time, I was in grad school. I hacked up a couple of supermarket potatoes with eyes on each piece, stuffed them into the dirt, failed to water, went to classes, wrote papers, and: potatoes happened. I never did notice any flowers, and the potatoes themselves were so small and stunted and runty from neglect, they were about the size of marbles. But, oh, the flavor was pure earth. I was enlightened. I learned something about the taste of one's own garden (and that's about all I learned, because I dropped out of grad school as soon as I met Cranky there).
This time, I've planted fingerlings from the lusty eyes of some of David Little's local potatoes. They could hardly wait to be planted, spurting skyward greenishly in the kitchen pantry. So in they went.
But then, what? How do you know when a potato is ready to be harvested?
El, at Fast Grow the Weeds, tells us that new potatoes (the little baby shaggy ones) can be dug up on her birthday. Which is today (happy birthday, El). To further refine, she says "two weeks after they flower," which for my tiny crop will be about mid-July. However, I'm reluctant to dig up baby fingerlings. What if they are microscopic?
To tell the truth, I probably will root around in the earth in a week or two, just to see what's happening down there. (It's called "grabbling.") Then I will wait until the plant tops die back and finally harvest the mature little spuds, when they are as diminutively grown-up as they will ever be.


peter said...

If you're gentle, and your soil is crumbly, you can explore without harming anything. Fingers are best. It's a good idea anyway, since you should start hilling once they begin to grow.

I hope you berate Cranky every day for ruining your education...

kudzu said...

Why don't you talk to Stuart --- I mean, David Little and ask him about growth habits from his potatoes?

And you're right: there is almost nothing, nothing, nothing better than newly dug taters.

If you can't taste the dirt, a tater ain't worth eatin' .
Mammy Yokum

dancingmorganmouse said...

teeny tiny bebe spuds, rinsed, tossed in hot butter and a little salt - pure irish bliss.
Good luck with the fingers.

el said...

Gosh CC I feel I need to be all legalistic and conditional: it depends on the potato! Fingerlings fall into the "late" category (early/midseason/late) as far as spuds go. Reds tend to be early, same with Yukon Golds; fingerlings middle to late, and russets late. The best clue is think about the skin. Russets are storage spuds so their skins are kind of hard, whereas most reds and other thin-skinned guys scream "eat me now". The spuds I harvested the other day ranged from pea-sized to egg-sized: on the small side, in other words. Boy they were tasty, though! I made a galette with them thinly sliced (tell Cranky I hauled out my mandolin and thought of him) and some new onions and garlic and sage. Yum.

Patricia Scarpin said...

This is the first time I see this flower - beautiful!

cookiecrumb said...

Peter: I think I'll just noodle around in there, but not expect to bring up anything yet.
Hilling. Yes, I've heard of it. I need to learn more.
But, see: Cranky ruined my education.

Kudzu: His name is Stuart?? Hah!
I was a little embarrassed to tell him we were using his buds to grow our own taters, but he seems really cool.
~daisy mae

Morgan: Butter and salt is IT.
As for the fingers, well, I might remove the diamond ring first. Might not.

El: I hope I haven't impugned you! You realize you are my gardening professor; most of what I know I've learned from your blog.
And so, thanks for the new lesson.
(Pea-sized! Whoa. Still... edible! You rock.)

Patricia: Isn't it crazy? xx

Chilebrown said...

What is the horse power of your lawn mower?

cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: He is about one manpower. He uses an electric weed whacker.

Sweet Bird said...

I want you to know...I'm jealous of your spuds.