Friday, March 18, 2011

Autumn Harvest Season

Potato Harvest
It's so satisfying when the time comes to harvest. I grew potatoes for the first time and the nursery assistant quickly figured I would be the type to buy some heirloom potatoes. So I grew Saphire (large potato, purple skin and flesh), Cranberry Red (pink skin and pale pink flesh) and Kipfler (smaller, elongated) and a good all rounder, Sebago.

I enjoyed the Saphire boiled, then covered with heated butter, sage and salt and pepper. I thought yum! My mum roasted them and didn't like it.

Potatoes I planted: Saphire, Kipfler, Cranberry Red and Sebago

To plant a potato, one piece should have about 3 eyes on it. So you can cut one potato into many as long as you have about 3 eyes per piece. They grew very well although I should have mounded and mulched more for a greater harvest. Potatoes grow up not down, so if you keep mounding the soil more will grow. Plus it will reduce the likelihood a potato will see the sunlight and things then going wrong. I thought I got a good harvest. Digging them up was fun: I hadn't noticed so many earthworms when I planted them but now there are heaps.

Apparently if you mulch well, you can "bandicoot": dig up a little baby potato close to the surface. My friend and I read this in Jackie French's book, so we went out to my friend's potato plot in a bathtub and she quickly found a potato under the mulch.

I've given away the other potatoes so far in a food swap at work or to my parents, so haven't tried them all yet. But I have some waiting for me in a cool, dark spot of the house. Best to store with dirt on them to lengthen their life.

I've also had a great harvest (when I'm at the house, which hasn't been much) of tomatoes: Silvery Fir Tree (red, slightly ribbed) had about 100 tomatoes per plant, Yellow Cherry Cocktail was prolific with a long fruiting time and Yellow Pear is also going well. Then I have red Tommy Toe, orange Tigerella and red, ribbed Rouge de Marmande. I'm not sure the name of the other yellow tomato, similar size to Tommy Toe. I'm still waiting on the green Zebra (a mystery as I don't know which ones these are amongst the green tomatoes), Grosse Lisse and Black Russian to ripen.

I have made my own tomato relish out of 3kg of (mainly) Silvery Fir Tree tomato. Tomorrow is my 4th Annual National Tomato Sauce Making Day with friends (yes, I made this title up) and then on Sunday I'll do it again with Permaculture Inner North. Looking forward to it! Hard to get tomatoes this year: lots of rain and humidity=not many good tomatoes in Victoria. But I still managed to get my $20 for 20kg box. I don't have enough cooking tomatoes to make my own tomato sauce. They are more for salad.


  1. Could you mash the saphire? That would look fantastic on the plate, a purple mash with some nice steamed asparagus and some spicy chicken. Mmmmm! Can you use potatoes from the supermarket, because they do sprout, but someone did tell me that they have been poisoned to stop them from growing. So perhaps not something you want to use?

  2. Your meal suggestion sounds lovely! I saw a purple mash on the menu the other day, but a different variety to Saphire. I think the Saphire was good for a variety of uses, including mashing.
    Technically, you probably could get potatoes from the supermarket but I'd opt for an organic supplier. It is true that potato farmers "knock the tops off" potato plants by spraying them with poison so the potato stops growing before harvest. Guess where the poison is sucked into? The tuber. This also stops the potato from growing ears when we take it home, so some supermarket potatoes last for ages in the light without growing ears. That's not normal.