YUM ~ Potatoes

5/13/2017 ~ My skylight hasn’t been quite as effective as I’d hoped. During the winter the sunlight isn’t coming directly in like this, so at the time I most wanted light like this, it was shining on the walls. Luckily the silver side of the rigid insulation distributes the light throughout the room, but none of my winter plants flourished the way this potato is flourishing. Though, as of yet I don’t know if all the leaves predict a lot of potatoes growing in the soil.

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Potato Plant 250 DSCN0952

4/13/2015 ~ My potato plants growing under a red/blue LED plant light are doing great. I don’t know if they’re making potatoes as well as leaves, but I’m hopeful. I also don’t know why the central plant is so large and squat, while the others are tall and skinny.

I have two 18″ TubTrugs with potatoes, as well. Since the potatoes I’ve harvested from 24″ pots are all in a fairly narrow band of soil, I’m thinking 18″ will work just as well as 24″.

Potato Plant under red blue LED light 150 DSCN0950

Potatoes appear to like Taotronic red/blue plant lights

The picture above of the potato plants was taken with the red/blue plant light turned off.

At left is what it looks like with the light turned on.

Potatoes 250 DSCN05401/21/2015 ~ These are some of my potatoes. I love being able to go to the huge pot in my living room to dig up a potato for dinner.

When I lived in London, come spring there were Egyptian New Potatoes as Sainsbury’s, the large grocery in Chapel Market. They were so good. Up until those potatoes I had no idea how really good a fresh, new potato tastes. What a complete treat to be growing my own new potatoes!

My potatoes are grown from seed potatoes, Rio Grande Russets, from Burpee’s. Nice sized seed potatoes arrived, each with a few eyes. When I didn’t have room to plant all of them I called Burpee’s to be sure they weren’t treated with anything, and when I was assured they weren’t, I cooked up the remainder for a lovely dinner.

The slight pinkish color is a result of the Red Blue LED light shining on nearby collards. The lightest potatoes are in the shade of the tall side of the pot, they are how each potato actually looks.

I should have taken a photo when I first began digging them up, so that you could see the size of the majority. The potato on the right is quite large. Larger than I’d ordinarily eat in one meal. The potato in the lower left hand corner is about the size of many of the potatoes. The little ones will work well, I hope, as seed potatoes, except I can’t be sure because they don’t have eyes that are as obvious as those on the ones I ordered.

Of my two huge pots, the pot with the densest soil produced the least, but largest potatoes. I’m not sure if that would always be the case, or if it was influenced by the fact I had the pot in semi-shade on my deck for an early part of the growing season. Plus, I started those potatoes indoors, in my living room, where they were spindly plants reaching for light.

Potatoes will grow from stalks ~ Read more.

How Potatoes Grow

Tiny Potato 250 DSCN0225I didn’t have much concept of how potatoes grow until I happened to notice a tiny potato on the stem of one of my plants. I had thought the potatoes grew in the soil at the bottom of the plant, even though I was using something like the method employed in straw bale potato growing.

I hadn’t realized that the little potatoes grow out from the stem at every higher levels, thus requiring the addition of grass and clippings to keep the little potatoes protected.

After seeing the baby potato I cut a lot of weeds and added them to the pot. I was afraid I was too late, and no potatoes would mature. But, lots of potatoes grew, far more than in the pot what had deeper soil.

Now, as I’ve been digging up potatoes from this pot I see how lovely and composted the grass is that was around the potato plant stems. The potatoes in the top picture are sitting on it. Isn’t it lovely!

Just to be clear, each time I had a lot of grass clippings and weeds stacked into the pot, I put a thin layer of soil on top, to keep out light and to encourage composting.

When I lived in London the doctor who lived two doors away, explained to me that when potatoes turn green they become somewhat toxic. She knew studies from Ireland. So, since then I’ve been careful to protect my potatoes, whether from the store or growing in my garden, from light.

Green potatoes contain a toxic chemical called solanine ~ Read more.

Potato ~ That dirty word

Fingerling potatoes with rosemary and butter

Fingerling potatoes with rosemary and butter

3/26/2014 ~ Potatoes! That used to be a dirty word! From the time I was twelve people warned me about potatoes. As I look back, you’d think (from what I was told) that potatoes were at the evil bottom of the whole, fearful, Living Dead thing. I mean, potatoes come out of the earth and almost unstoppably cause people to be fat with a deadly end to all the fun, full-of-life things slender people enjoy. I was told to beware of potatoes, to stay clear, to eat raw carrots instead. Yikes! So scary, except for the carrot part, if only raw carrots were a bit more of a comfort food.

If you’ve ever wondered why potatoes can make you feel So Much Better, it’s because they’re high in potassium. Potassium ions are one of the three electrolytes found in our bodies, the other two are sodium ions and chloride ions. Potassium is the primary positive ion found in our cells. When we overwork our bodies (or minds and bodies) we use a lot of potassium. When potassium runs low we literally have less energy because our cells need potassium in order to do their work.

Basically our energy is produced by an exchange of sodium and potassium at cell level. For example, making new blood cells requires a lot of potassium, which is why if someone has had low vitamin B12, then begins B12 replacement they sometimes experience painful muscle spasms. Low B12, you see, is often associated with large blood cells that are unable to divide in a normal, happy way. Once there’s more B12 the cells return to normal and begin dividing which uses a lot of potassium. If there isn’t enough potassium, painful muscle spasms can put you right off replacing your B12. B12 Malabsorption and Replacement ~ Read More.

I heart potatoes

I heart potatoes

But, if you know about potassium, you can quickly eat your way to feeling better ~ potatoes are one of the lovely, tasty paths. Foods and their Potassium Content ~ Read More.

When I learned, from experience, that potassium works, I was totally amazed. What happened was that a pipe broke. Water from the mains gushed into my front room. To stop the flood (while I waited for the plumber) I had to keep sweeping water out the door. No problem. Except it was pretty scary and intense work. Then a few days later I was in a building with no place to sit down for a very long distance. I became utterly exhausted. I’ve not recovered from tetanus. (If you garden you may be at risk for Tetanus. Read More.)

Problems before Potassium

In the past I had recovered in a few weeks, sometimes months. But this time my strength deteriorated. I shook so badly it was hard to walk. I ordered a cane, which was lucky because that brought up ads for Rolling Walkers. I ordered one and returned the cane.

Even with the rolling walker it was nearly impossible to step up the 6 inch rise going into my house. The harder it was to walk, the more painful walking became, which made walking harder. Vicious circle. As I avoided walking, muscle in my left thigh visibly vanished, leaving a depression in my thigh, and in my spirit for that matter.

When I learned about stretching exercises I was able to reduce the pain. Then I got an idea, this is over a year later after I’d managed to make myself worse by more over exertion. I thought more B12 might help: so, I doubled up on the five to six 5mg Methylcobalamin lozenges I was using a day.

Within a short time, maybe a week or two, I was getting extremely painful muscle spasms. Luckily I tweeted about them and received a reply saying that B12 may stimulate internal activity in the body that makes more potassium necessary, and if you don’t have enough potassium you can get really painful muscle spasms. I hadn’t heard that before and I didn’t have potassium capsules on hand.

Turns out potassium capsules are not the answer. One capsule is 98 mg, while what we need on a daily basis is 4700 mg. As I began to read about potassium I could see why I craved potatoes and bananas. Potatoes began to seem like heroes, not horrors. But, being housebound I was dependent on potatoes coming with my meals from Kitchen Angels, which indeed they did… sometimes.

As an aside, it seemed likely that in addition to needing more potassium, I also needed to rid my body of some of the cobalt that most likely had collected when I began using so much more cobalamin (Methylcobalamin) and for that I discovered I needed cilantro. Capsules of cilantro seemed like they would be effective, and indeed they were.

Burpee offers 26 potato varieties

But the potassium problem remained. That’s when I decided to order seed potatoes and to try my hand at growing potatoes. That turned out great, because far more seed potatoes arrived than I had room to plant. After Burpee assured me their seed potatoes were not treated with anything, I cooked the remaining potatoes in a number of different dishes ~~ They were excellent.

Last fall when I harvested my first home grown potatoes, I was astonished at the difference in flavor, contrasted to store bought potatoes. If I’d had a clue there would be that much difference I’d have grown them much sooner, and in far greater numbers.

Since then, I thought that possibly I could grow potatoes indoors, in winter, under my Solatube light. I planted several seed potatoes in compost at the bottom of a huge pot, and covered the compost with a thick layer of dried grass and leaves.

Over the winter months, nothing happened. I decided that perhaps my seed potatoes had been too small, or possibly the portions I cut to start the plants were too small. In any case, I stopped looking eagerly into the pot to see if there were sprouts.

young potato plants

young potato plants

Then one day, a few weeks ago, I noticed a tall, spindly, but none the less lovely potato plant. Since then a few others have come up, and with more light from an additional Solatube, I’m hoping they make actual potatoes.

You can see in the photo that the pieces of Orca Grow Film are brighter with light than the inside of the pot. Sadly I didn’t realize this was the case, even though it was supposed to be, until I took this picture, and now I don’t have any pieces of Orca to complete the lining of the pot’s top. (Before I took the photo I put dark soil over the dry grass to make the young plants show up better.)

While I had thought that my potatoes may have needed more light to grow, if the size of the seed potatoes wasn’t the problem, the fact is that once it was warmer in here the potatoes responded.

Next winter I’m going to try to keep my home at 60* and see if potatoes grow inside when it’s warmer.

peppers June 20 2014 Potatoes frame 52

I see in the picture that there’s a sunflower among my potatoes. I didn’t recognize it till I looked at this picture.

6/21/2014 ~ Some of my potatoes were killed by freezing nights after I took them outside, but three on the right in the picture, though it’s hard to distinguish one plant from another for purposes of counting, are ones that sprang up inside the house, having been planted in 2013.

Overall, my potatoes are doing really well. I need to add a layer of soil and more grass around their stems.

I also need to plant another pot of them, except the black widow is living under the pot I had in mind and I so far haven’t taken it outside, for … well, for fear of disturbing her. Though, she apparently came in with the pot last fall without objection.

6/29/2014 ~ I’ve got the huge pot under which the black widow has been living for over a year… I didn’t really realize she was there when I brought the pot indoors last winter, even though I’d seen a web that looked a lot like a black widow’s. Recognizing a black widow ~ Read more.

I have a tad more of the old soil to take out of the pot, then I need to add a bit of compost, peat moss and organic fertilizer to the remaining soil… and plant my seed potatoes.

They will be way at the bottom of the pot. On top of their soil I’ll place cut grass and keep placing more around the potato plant stems as they emerge and grow.

Come potato harvest I’ll also have a pot of lovely composted grass. Can’t beat that!

Bonus! After I had the potatoes planted and the pot moved to it’s “permanent” spot on my deck, I sat and watched the bees and wasps for awhile. The bonus was a baby mockingbird checking things out on the deck. They are so cute. Last week this one, or another, was having a hugely fun time with the water when I was spraying my Mexican primroses. Its parents appeared to eager to warn it away from me, but it was having none of it, since it appeared to love playing in the spray.

Potato Nutrition

Potato, Baked w/skinLarge, 299 grams
Protein7.5 grams
Vitaminsmg, etc.
A29.9 IU
C28.7 mg
E0.1 mg
K6 mcg
Thiamin 0.2 mg
Riboflavin0.1 mg
Niacin4.2 mg
B60.9 mg
Folate83.7 mcg
Pantothenic Acid1.1 mg
Choline44.2 mg
Betaine0.6 mg
Mineralsmg
Calcium44.8 mg
Iron3.2 mg
Magnesium83.7 mg
Phosphorus209 mg
Potassium1600 mg
Sodium29.9 mg
Zinc1.1 mg
Copper0.4 mg
Manganese0.7 mg
Selenium 1.2 mcg
Fatty Acidsmg
Omega 338.9 mg
Omega 6129 mg
Other
Carbohydrates63.2 mg
Fiber6.6mg
Starch51.6 mg
Sugars3.5 mg

 

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