The Great Potato Harvest

So, harvesting potatoes sucks!  It especially sucks when you have decided to tackle the project when the temperature is above 90 degrees.  Few things are as tiring as searching in the dirt for tubers with an over-sized, medieval looking salad fork, while simultaneously fending off heat stroke.  I’m not kidding!  Sweat was falling off of my head in a continuous stream as if someone had turned on a faucet over my head.

The mighty Potato Fork!

Dealing with the Potato Fork was also a new experience for me.  Now, I am incredibly grateful to my father-in-law for lending this to us, and I would never want to “bite the hand that feeds me”, so to speak, but this thing looked gnarly.  It looks like some sort of wicked medieval weapon.  I feel like I should be storming Frankenstein’s Castle, or charging the Skywalker Ranch in a retaliatory move for Lucas having written The Phantom Menace.  It’s big.  It’s sharp, and it honestly feels like a weapon.  However, it’s also about eight inches too short  for its intended purpose, which is digging out tubers.   This meant that on top of the heat, humidity and sweat drenched mud, I am also giving myself back cramps because I am constantly hunched over trying to use this thing.  Now, I am not a tall guy; only about 5’8″-5’9″.  So, I can’t imagine how my father-in-law, who could “touch up” the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel standing on his tip-toes, could possibly use this thing.  In fact, I have a hard time believing anybody in my wife’s family used this tool.  I can only surmise that this was left behind by a family of Hobbits after helping my in-laws with the harvest.

When all was said and done, we had 16 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes, and a giant, empty spot in our garden.  Now, that is by no means a large haul when it comes to potato harvests.  However, considering all the trouble those things have caused us, I am happy we got anything at all.  I did learn a few things for next year though:

  • Don’t use decorative “mulch”.  Use compost, straw, or shredded “garden mulch”.
  • Leave lots of loose soil for the tubers to develop.  We noticed that most of our potatoes were kept very close to the plant.  We think this is because the ground around our potato plants had become compacted, which made it very difficult for the tubers to spread.  Growing them in continuously tilled soil, or even straw will solve this issue next year.
  • Use good pesticide…. I hate Colorado Potato Beetles
  • Make sure you are always mounding dirt around the plant.  This gives more room to grow tubers, and also stabilizes the plant.  Our mounds were too small, and when the big rains came a few weeks ago, it toppled most of our plants.

In the end, I’m happy with our potato crop, and know what I’m going to do differently next year.  First on the list:  Buy a bigger Potato Fork!

Next Project: Melon Hammocks

The empty spot where our potatoes were

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