A Family Builds a Homestead in the Rain

Homegrown Potatoes: A Worthy Vegetable

A few years ago, as my husband and I prepared to plant our first large garden, we poured over the colorful photos in seed catalogues and discussed what we wanted to plant. The gist of it: everything!

But we narrowed it down to a reasonable selection, based on the pursuit of superior flavor and nutritional value than what we could buy. (We did, however, fail to plant a reasonable quantity of each: notably three 30-foot rows of spinach for the two of us and something like 100 tomato plants.) We placed our order. In addition, I heaped several paper sacks with various potatoes at the local feed store.

He didn’t protest the potatoes until he had fulfilled his job of mounding the rows a few times. While we now layer in straw mulch, at the time he was heaving shovelful after shovelful of dry valley clay soil– backbreaking work. And he began to wonder aloud, why waste the time and effort with potatoes when they’re so cheap from the grocery store? They’re just a bland starch.

Then we harvested our first Yukon Golds. They were like butter– totally unlike supermarket spuds. They hardly needed anything but a pot of boiling water. Divine in every preparation.

Now we grow lots of potatoes: fingerlings, purples and blues, waxy and white. We’ve grown them in buckets, in trenches, and in circles of wire. We layer mulch and soil for easy mounding and digging. And they’re my very favorite harvest– have been since childhood. It’s like digging for treasure.

We planted purple potatoes in bins before the move with the intention of simply moving them with us. I didn’t want to miss potato season and the purples were sprouting. We also threw in some golds and reds. The plants shot up in the early warm California weather. Then before one of our weeklong trips with a load to the new place, I forgot to tell the student caring for our animals to water the plants. Many survived. The potatoes did not.

Disappointed, I shrugged them off with the intention to plant more in the new garden, which I did in March. Then as we prepared for the final move and I dumped the demised spud bins, out poured dozens of colorful marbles: young potatoes from pea-sized to ping pong balls. Delighted, I tossed them in a bag and brought them along.

Now at the new place, I prepared them to our toddler’s delight, simply boiled and tossed in a bit of butter and fresh parsley, served over a bed of peas. It was a hit that highlighted the finest of spring vegetables, even the ones some might not deem worthy of growing at home.

This weekend we’ll be digging fingerlings, and we’re as eager as we will be when harvesting the first tomatoes or berries.

Shared on the Homestead Blog Hop.

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  1. June 12, 2015    


    • June 12, 2015    

      Thank you!

  2. June 13, 2015    

    My kids LOVED eating purple potatoes! Happy gardening!

    • June 13, 2015    

      Those were her favorite! You too!

  3. June 13, 2015    

    awesome ! Got charlotte earlier ready to be harvested over the next month, they are currently the size of marbles – they smell and taste so earthy, like potatoes should do !

    • June 13, 2015    

      We pulled a few fingerlings up last night and ate them fresh from the ground– so crisp and yummy! Nothing like homegrown!

  4. June 13, 2015    

    To be honest, I’ve never really considered growing potatoes. I eat more sweet potatoes and yams than potatoes, but our growing season for sweet potatoes is to short to actually grow them outdoors. So maybe I should reconsider the whole potato growing thing and try a couple. After all, it would save me some money…. and they would be grown at home.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • June 13, 2015    

      Great! They are really so easy and so much better than store-bought. I love sweet potatoes, but I have to say, likewise, I’ve not considered growing them myself! I’ll have to look into it.

  5. June 13, 2015    

    That is one happy baby, adorable picture!
    This is my first year planting potatoes, I can’t wait to try them. I’d like to do purple potatoes next year, they are so tasty (and the color makes me think they probably are higher in nutrients) and I very rarely see them in stores.

    • June 13, 2015    

      Thank you! You are correct that they are much higher in nutrients! And super tasty. Good luck with this year’s potatoes! Bet you’ll be hooked. 🙂

  6. July 7, 2015    

    That’s what I always say about digging up potatoes; it’s so much fun! I’m trying to get outside now to dig up some treasure. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

    • July 7, 2015    

      Thanks Jennifer! We just dug a 17-lb row last night and our toddler loved it! 🙂


I'm Kelly. Writer, crafter, forager, country winemaker, cook. Mama of an awesome toddler and married to my best friend. We recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, where we're setting out to grow, make, and learn as much as we can as the future unfolds.

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