Monday, September 19, 2011

Spuds + Floods = Duds

I planted 6 varieties of potatoes on June 16 of this year.  I like to plant potatoes a bit later than the average bear normally would because this way the Colorado potato beetles don't seem to be the astronomical  problem. that they typically can be.  That being said, I actually had more CPBs this year than I've ever had, for some reason.  Interesting.  I don't normally have issues with them.  

The six varieties of potatoes that I planted (and they were all from saved potatoes from last year) were "All Blue", "Buttercream",  "Yukon Gold", "Red Norland", "Red Gold", and a red-skinned white potato that was particularly tasty that I got from an organic foods co-op.  Once planted, the potatoes grew as they should, and eventually the foliage started to die back not too long ago which is a sure sign that the potatoes are mature and ready for harvest.

So, I set about digging my potatoes this past weekend....
But!  Two weeks ago we had major flooding here in Central Pennsylvania due to Hurricane Lee (later-turned-tropical-storm Lee).  We got 15 inches of rain in 2 days and the flooding was devastating.  Our own little house was spared the ravages of the flood only because we had 2 sump pumps running constantly in the basement for several days, and our stream crept closer to the house than I've ever seen:  11.5 feet away  from the front of the house.  The garden was under water for a spell and the potatoes, apparently, didn't like that one bit.

Reports from local potato farmers are of devastation to their crops.  A friend of mine said 50% of his potatoes were destroyed by the flood, which is what I calculated to be my loss to be.

What originally appeared to be good potatoes were later discovered to be rotting once a bit of pressure was put on the spud.

When I began digging my potatoes I was horrified to discovered one rotten potato after another.  I could imagine what the Irish potato famine victims must have been thinking as they discovered their crop ruined.  I would find what I thought were perfectly good potatoes, but upon lifting them from the earth found that their insides were liquefied, or mostly so.  The slightest pressure on the potato caused the release of a foamy white vile stench of a liquid.  Yuck!

When I started digging my All Blue potatoes, I was startled to find brilliant purple and blue "smears" in the earth where healthy potatoes once thrived.  The colors were so vibrant it makes me wonder how purple potatoes would do as a natural fibers dye.

Former "All Blue" potatoes

My potatoes are now all dug, and I have a very small crop to use as food.  The rest I shall set aside as seed potatoes for next year.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the chosen seed potatoes keep through the winter and don't spoil as I'm not certain that they're perfectly healthy just yet.  Time will tell.

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