Thursday, August 5, 2010
Well, about a third of my potato plants had died back so I went ahead yesterday and harvested those plants. Should be most of my Yukon Gold harvest. The reds will take another week or so to finish up.
They did awesome! I had 34 potatoes, a few were golf ball size but most were (my) fist size to croquet ball size. I'm really happy with the first harvest. I'll be ecstatic if the rest of the harvest is as good, 80+ potatoes will be a most welcome infusion to our pantry.
I made a point to gather the True Potato Seed (TPS) while I was messing with the plants. I'll be doing some serious gardening experimentation with those. A 2-5 year experiment if I understand the material correctly.
Here's the basics of my plan--
February 2011: Start TPS under lights, discard those seedlings that are sickly. Plant out and grow to spud size in a nursery bed. Overwinter indoors?
April 2012, plant surviving spuds into garden proper and grow to harvest tubers and more TPS.
Feb 2013: Start second generation of TPS indoors under lights indoors, again discard sickly specimens. Plant out and grow to spud size. Overwinter indoors?
April 2014 plant spuds into garden proper and grow to harvest tubers and more TPS.
TPS harvested in August 2014 will be second generation to my area and hopefully if I have enough seed I can start treating the crop like onions and start seedlings every year, to have tubers every year to plant out for harvest. (Every year have both seedlings and spuds to plant out, the seedlings to grow into spuds for next year, and the spuds from the seedlings planted out the year before)
At this point I may have lost some of you. Don't worry, it's not easy to wrap your brain around. I'm not entirely sure I've got it all right yet and I will probably spend some time this winter doing more reading on the subject.
You may be wondering what my purpose in all this hassle is. I have had good luck with buying certified spuds from seed companies, why bother trying to save seed and breed my own varieties? Well, the way things currently work, most gardeners are just planting out clones, no genetic improvements are happening with the varieties. Sure, a few big seed companies are probably involved in some potato breeding and trials, but you know me, I never like to leave something as important as my food in the hands of people I don't know and can't oversee. :-D
So, I'm going to try some amateur breeding of my own. I can't make things worse, and who knows, maybe I'll create the next best potato. :-) At the very least I'll learn more about potatoes and that's not a bad thing.