Thursday, October 30, 2008
**photo by Julian Hasford**
i have been bitten by the potato bug . . . looks like i may have found another addiction in the world of seed saving. Garrett Pittinger offered me some potato growing advice that i will share with you:
(a) each variety will respond to soil conditions differently. experiment to find potatoes that grow well in your garden!
(b) the soil should not be too acidic. he rotates gardens with his corn crop. one year a garden has new manure and corn is planted, the next year the potatoes grow in the aged manure.
(c) your root cellar should be dark (too much exposure to light will turn the potatoes green), and within the temperature range of 4 to 6 degrees Celsius. if the temperature drops below 4 degrees, water will expand in the potato, turning the starch into sugar. the potatoes will caramelize when cooked. too warm and the potatoes will start to sprout.
the blue potatoes are great for baking
the following is some of the potato varieties that he is growing:
ailes roses, bauer grun's rotes auge (oblong yellow potatoes with lovely pink eyes), bc blue, belgium, bintje (yellow-great for roasting), buckskin, carola, congo (the darkest of all the blue potatoes, great keeper), corne de mouton (unique hazlenut taste), crotte d'ours, digby heavener's peruvian, early rose (pink-skinned and white inside), elmer's blue, epicure, ernest cameron's, french fingerling (oblong red), grote aardapple, irish cobbler (an endangered variety), kifli krumpli fingerling, la veine rose, matsuyama, mrs. moehrle's yellow fleshed, norland, papas negras, princess c, pugh's purple, red bintje (dutch variety with red skin and yellow flesh), red dutch, rode eersteling, siberian (keep there shape in soup), six weeks, and stueben.
**Thanks to Julian Hasford for the use of his lovely photos.
** The potatoes pictured above were displayed at the Toronto Urban Farm Festival. All varieties were donated to Solomon Boye, by Garrett Pittinger. They were grown, harvested and enjoyed by the dedicated folks at the Toronto Urban Farm.
*for more information on these potatoes and others like them, look for dagmar baur's upcoming article in Edible Toronto.
**photo Julian Hasford**
i had the privilege of meeting garrett pittenger. for a seed nerd like me, this is a big deal. he is a founding and integral seeds of diversity member. he lives on a beautiful piece of property and grows over thirty types of heirloom potatoes with great dedication. i was lucky enough to visit him, get a tour of his property, and talk seed saving (and life) over tea.
when we entered his root cellar, we were greeted by highly organized boxes of potatoes, everywhere. different types ranging in colour from yellow, to pink, to blue and in every size imaginable were all gorgeous and chilling at a temperature of 42 degrees Fahrenheit.
each box was labelled with a stake, but garrett hardly needed them. you could tell he was intimately familiar with each potato. he identified each variety, while sharing stories of their colouring, history, taste, where he originally obtained them.
we soaked up the information and knowledge garrett was kindly sharing with us. he has been doing this for over forty years, and as he described so eloquently:
"after i had been doing this for awhile, the potatoes just seemed to find me".
smart potatoes, if i was a rare heirloom variety of a potato, i would certainly want to be in garrett's custody . ..
*this trip wouldn't have been possible without the organization of dagmar baur (another dedicated SoDC member), and barb (an avid and interested gardener who was nice enough to drive us!)
**sadly my camera was malfunctioning that day, so i don't have pictures of the experience. i have included some of the pics from the Toronto Urban Farm Festival, where gardeners were reaping the harvest of some of Garrett's potatoes. Thanks to Julian Hasford for use of his pictures.