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The conclusion of the potato experiment

To be honest, I expected to find a pile of mushy mouldy potatoes.

What I found was... surprising.

It was, what, five or six weeks after I cut their heads off? The internet said that if left in the ground for a few weeks, the skins will harden making them store better. The woman at work just said "leave them for a few weeks, unless you want to eat them".

Let's get the bad news out of the way first. Here is my reject bucket.

All the ones I rejected
All the ones I rejected.
I rejected any potatoes that were discoloured, had brown speckles, or little white lumps. The potatoes look the way they do as I picked them up after passing the rotovator, so they got a bit tortured along the way.

Now, clearly if there was a zombie apocalypse or civil war, I'd be a little less choosy and would make meals out of the several kilograms of potatoes here. There is the idea of "just cut out the bad bits" which I can afford to ignore as an employee in a first world nation.

Here is what I kept.

All the ones I kept
All the ones I kept.
It's a lot less than the rejects, but there's a good few kilograms there too. I'm perfectly happy with this, given that I was expecting nothing useful.
Plus, I live in a damp ancient stone house, so storage might prove to be a problem as well. No point having a lot of potatoes if keeping them will be a problem.


I am, actually, surprised at how many potatoes turned up for relatively little effort. I turned the ground, used a hoe to make some trenches, put the seed potatoes in, covered them over, and then basically just kept them watered and tidied the weeds once in a while. In return, had the crop been good and not blighted, I'd have ended up with more potatoes than I would know what to do with.

This is what I mean by the brown spots.

Brown spots on the potato
Brown spots on the potato.
Maybe this is okay and I discarded a lot of perfectly usable potatoes? I don't know, I just know that the ones I kept don't have these spots (or so few I didn't notice).
I'm pretty sure the little white almost-spikey dots are related to the blight, and those potatoes that were discoloured brown were not going to be good.
As I said, the good ones were good, so if in doubt...chuck it out!


All of these potatoes are Bintje. The Charlottes, thanks to their "we'll take forever to sprout" attitude simply didn't have enough time to make useful tubers. What they did make would be a perfectly acceptable beach ball for a Playmo person!


So, then, the main premise of this entire thing was to run as an experiment. Banking them up versus not banking them up. Was there a difference?


Oh, yes.


Like, really yes.


Pretty much all of the banked up ones were rejected. They were not good, with either the white mouldy spots, or the brown speckles. They also seem to have stopped growing at around the time that I beheaded the plant.

The ones that were not banked up? Well, they appear to have continued growing, leading to a few potatoes like this:

A biggie
A biggie.
Additionally, they generally seemed to be in better health. As I said, I did have to reject some, but pretty much all of the ones I kept came from the plants that were not banked up.


Perhaps when one banks up, the plant is spending more time growing (and creating new tubers) that it doesn't concentrate on developing the tubers that it has? I guess it might work better if you want a larger number of smaller potatoes, but I was hoping for some usefully big ones, and the non-banked plants delivered.


I won't be able to grow potatoes next year. Well, not here at any rate. I'm not sure what to grow...

The potato patch
The potato patch.

I've kept the mole-plant for now, as it's just so weird. The ground turned (to control the weeds), and everything flattened out. The potato experiment is now over, and the results are in - banking up . . . not good.


I didn't expect that, to be honest, as everybody has been telling me that potatoes should be banked up.
However, I have a large bucket of rejects and a smaller bucket of decent potatoes that says otherwise. ☺



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J.G.Harston, 18th August 2021, 18:55
Congrats! Though I'd be keeping the "rejects". ;) 
This year my experiment was between chitting and not. Usually I just dump everything in the ground and forget about them for three months. This year I did half straight into the ground and half sat in the window for two weeks to sprout a bit, and then went in. 
The results: the unchitted ones averaged three spuds each, the chitted ones four spuds each. 
David Pilling, 19th August 2021, 01:43
Those are good potatoes - the brown blobs only look like those on shop bought ones. 
What to plant next - beans - classic crop rotation, put nitrogen into the soil. You can probably get away with poking beans into the ground - what are called "French" beans in the UK. Or peas.  
As to the Zombie apocalypse, get a spud gun.
Rick, 19th August 2021, 06:19
Oops. Oh well. I'll know for next time. 
Peas, there's a good idea.

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