A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Unusual Potatoes ---
Not Just for Tots Anymore!

March 6
, 2015     
(See below for archives)

I think it was last year that I reported to you my enthusiasm for a book that was recommended to me by a customer---“Eating on the Wild Side” by Jo Robinson. I think the title is somewhat misleading, for it indicates that foraging might be the main topic, which it is not. The subtitle helps clarify the subject: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. That might be an overstatement, but it is a more precise indicator of the topic, at least. If I were to title it, I might call it “How to Choose the Most Nutritious Vegetables.” I like this book a lot and turn to it often, sometimes just for quick reference. I am never disappointed. (We'll have it next week in our stores, by the way.)

Years ago, I became interested in unusual potatoes, having seen them at the huge farmer’s market in Madison. When I started to research them (especially in Robinson’s book), I learned a few things about the nutritional value of the potato. In general, the most obvious indicator of a nutrient rich potato is color. The darker the color, the more nutrients. According to Robinson, a variety called ‘Purple Peruvian’ has 28 times more bionutrients than Russet Burbank (by far the most common variety in America), and 166 times more than a commonly grown variety called ‘Kennebec White’. Now, these common varieties are still reasonably nutritious; the problem for many folks is that they are high in sugar, as are many other common potatoes. The more colorful potatoes are often much lower in sugar.

These “other” potatoes have odd shapes and colors that we are not used to. Due to their irregularity, they don’t work well for mechanical processing in large quantities. But you can grow them on your own. That’s much better than buying them in the store where they might cost $4 per pound or more. And it’s more fun.

This year we will be offering some unusual potatoes, actively growing in pots. If you are planning on growing row after row of potatoes, you’d be better off buying seed potatoes by the pound. These individually potted plants are really just for those who want to try something unusual, without having to make a big production of it. Varieties we are growing this year are ‘Purple Peruvian,’ ‘Mountain Rose,’ ‘Purple Majesty,’ and two fingerling types called ‘Blossom,’ and ‘French Fingerling.’ Here is a link to a blog I wrote some time ago that tells you how to grow them. It’s called “Taters for Tots”; it was meant to introduce kids to gardening.

A couple of things to remember when growing potatoes. When the potatoes start to form underground (this happens when the plants are in flower), the potatoes themselves push upwards, becoming exposed to the light. When this happens you should cover them with soil or straw. You will have to do this more than once as they will continue to grow and push upwards. If you fail to do this the potatoes will have green coloring where they are exposed (most obvious on white skinned varieties), and the potatoes will be toxic. Every plant has some sort of varmint associated with it, and is this case it is the potato beetle. Since you are only growing a few plants you can manage this pest by hand, if you are diligent. Inspect the plants daily for the beetles; remove them and discard them. Look under the leaves for their eggs---little orange clusters. Remove and discard those too. What I like about doing simple chores such as these is that they force you into the garden----that’s why it’s called gardening---it is supposed to be an active endeavor. You aren’t supposed to be sitting in a lawn chair next to your garden, at least not until sundown. Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.


Archives  (Click on the green text for links)

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012- My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com