This week we harvested our first crop of potatoes with our children. Our daughter was particularly excited as she burrowed to find spuds and our much younger son enjoyed getting stuck in as well. We planted out in early April into cheap sacks, one of which didn’t survive as it had perished on the bottom. These are a second early cultivar called Una which produces waxy new potatoes and later a larger main crop. I think the pretty pink colour made the experience even more enjoyable than a standard white. We knew it was about time to take our first harvest as the plants were flowering which is a good sign there is tuber development happening in the soil.
The choice of growing in sacks was an easy one for us as we don’t have the space to plant potatoes in the garden of our rented home. As such there were a few differences with growing in the ground, the first being that the sacks needed constant watering. The compost in the sacks was unfortunately not home made as we don’t have the space for that, it was a peat based compost with added coir to help retain moisture. The new potatoes tasted great and went down a treat in a salad. I think our children felt good eating something they had grown and harvested themselves.
Harvesting from a sack is also much simpler for kids than from the ground as digging can be quite exhausting and potentially damage the tubers unless the digger is fairly experienced. To harvest the sacks our daughter first cut away the plant matter growing from the soil. Then we tipped the sack contents our into the paddling pool and let the kids dig for treasure with their hands. This was fairly easy as we had let the soil dry out in the hot weather before harvesting so the spuds were dry clean in the soil which was softly fell apart. We left the smallest potatoes as they aren’t much of a meal and don’t taste very nice. During harvest our daughter asked if the leaves were edible so we had to tell her no. Do not let your children eat the leaves, green potatoes, roots or small tomato like fruits on the plant as the plant itself is poisonous!
Finally we looked at the remaining seed potatoes we hadn’t planted out. Before chitting we had separated the damaged and non damaged tubers and left them on the same sunny windowsill. The difference in tuber preservation was clear to our daughter, the damaged tubers were clearly struggling and mostly dry, whereas the intact tubers had stayed healthy and were still viable to be planted out. As before, we filled a sack with approx 15cm of soil, put in the tubers and covered them in soil before giving them a good drink.