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Spud Sunday: Small Potatoes

Oh the excitement!

The day which would see the eagerly anticipated unearthing of the first new spuds was finally here. Visions of tuberous bounty filled my head, as I grabbed the garden fork and gloves and sallied forth to the vegetable patch. Mentally, I had already applied steam, butter and salt to the first of many straight-from-the-garden spud dinners. Happy days.

I tackled one of the outer drills, where I had planted a new-to-me spud, Colleen, and which had been the first of the varieties planted to burst forth into flower. The foliage throughout the patch was lush, green and healthy-looking. The first few tentative probes with the fork yielded nothing and then, working the soil a little closer to the stalk, a yellowy tuber appeared.

My New Potatoes

Ah, there you are young spud, now, come to Momma...

We had lift-off. One potato, two potato, three potato…

…and then no more. To quote the immortal words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Three potatoes from one plant? Now that is what I call extremely low-yield.

Not what you'd call a good crop of new potatoes

C'mon now lads, you can do better than that, surely?

I was mystified. They’d been manured. They’d had rain and watering. They’d had some heat. The plants looked healthy. However, only a few tubers had developed into anything beyond the size of a marble. I didn’t have the heart to dig up any of the other drills to see whether my Duke of Yorks and Shetland Blacks were equally miserable.

In a daze of disbelief, I trudged past what had been last year’s potato patch, where a few rogue Sharpe’s Express plants had grown from spuds that had escaped my previous harvesting efforts. I decided to dig up a few of these scrawny specimens and found that they, in their wholly neglected state, had still managed to produce more of a yield than the new spuds on the block.

Yes, it was a disappointing day down at the spud farm. Small potatoes indeed.


  1. Sophie

    They are small but they look yummie & they all look perfect: Now, how was their taste?

  2. Sippitysup

    Not being a farmer all I can say is “give it time”. GREG

  3. Jenni

    Alack and alas, DS! What is up with your spudlings?! Don’t they know who they’re dealing with? Perhaps they took exception to being “manured.” Perhaps they are Putting on Airs and think they are Above Manure. Just a thought…

  4. jenn

    Small, but oh-so deliciously tempingly good.

  5. Reeni

    I’m sorry about your low yield! Maybe it’s just a fluke – and the rest have more than that! I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  6. Tangled Noodle

    Impudent spuds! Cheeky little tubers! They’re just teasing you – next thing you know, you’ll be awash in Colleens and Shetland Blacks (about which I am most curious). Were you able to enjoy these bites at least?

    Not being well spud-ucated, a question: how much of a yield can one normally expect from a single plant?

  7. Daily Spud

    Sophie: ah, the taste was good :) though I actually think I preferred last year’s Sharpes’s Express to this years Colleens

    Sippity Sup: y’know, that’s what my Ma said too!

    Jenni: or perhaps they mistook my new veg patch for a No Grow Area? Never fear, though, I will not let a few uppity spuds get the better of me :)

    jenn: still good to have them straight from the garden, even if there weren’t as many as I’d thought there would be

    Reeni: I’m keeping my fingers crossed too – haven’t checked the rest yet…

    Tangled Noodle: ah yes, I was at least able to enjoy the ones that I got and cobble together a dinner’s worth from those and the stray Sharpes Express specimens; in terms of yield, I guess what I would expect from an early variety like Colleen is 3-4 times what I actually got; I do hope that the other varieties will have better news for me…

  8. The Duo Dishes

    Dang, what a bummer. But just think…those are probably going to be 3 of the tastiest taters you’ll have. They gave it a good effort!

  9. OysterCulture

    ah, that is such a disappointment after all the hard work effort, do those little guys have no idea of the work you did on their behalf? If those post were about my results, this would be expected but not the case here. The old foggies need to teach those new whippersnappers a thing or two,

  10. zerrin

    As I’m not a farmer, either, I can’t understand why these spuds made you upset. Maybe the rest were hiding deeper in the earth? They look so cute though.

  11. gastroanthropologist

    Don’t despair! They look lovely and I’m sure they taste delicious. I hope some underground critter didn’t get ’em!

  12. Daily Spud

    Duo Dishes: I was happy to chow down on the ones that made it, that’s for sure :)

    OysterCulture: it may just go to show that still I have a thing or ten to learn in the gardening department myself; in fact I definitely know that to be the case!

    zerrin: I don’t think there are too many of them hiding but I’m slowly figuring out what may have happened (and I’ll post about it in due course – always new things to be learned about what goes on in the garden!)

    gastroanthropologist: no, pretty sure there were no critters involved in this instance – it may actually have been that the soil was over-manured, so that the potato foliage went mad but at the expense of the tubers – that’s the current theory anyway…

  13. chris

    My husband grows Sharpes Express for flavour but please, please, please will someone tell me how to cook them.
    If I boil them (in skins) (however slowly) they start to break up within minutes and long before they are cooked. By the time they’re ready the mush is not even any good for mash.
    When I microwaved them (covered) they burst showering bits of potato everywhere.
    Any ideas?

  14. Chef E

    Oh and that cute tuber…how dare they do this to you! I hope the crop comes in for you…all that work and you deserve the best!

  15. Daily Spud

    Chris: thanks for dropping in! Try steaming the Sharpe’s Express (which is what I usually do) – they will still tend to burst apart but at least you won’t end up with the complete soggy mush that you would get with boiling

    Chef E: never fear, I will have some spuds, just perhaps not as many as I hoped (and there’ll be a lesson or two learned in the process!)

  16. Brandon

    How was your calcium levels in the soil? Low calcium can cause bad yields and small potatoes.

  17. Daily Spud

    Hi Brandon – good question you have there. I don’t actually know what the calcium levels in the soil were, though I suspect, in this case, that calcium was not the culprit. I say that only because it later turned out that other varieties of potato grown in the same plot produced large and healthy yields. It’s certainly something for me to be aware of in future, though, so thanks.

  18. Irish and Spud Loving

    Hi, Long time after you but I had the same issues, though to be fair I did get a few more than you, I did find you anecdote amusing, I felt the same horror….

    Well I found this link that might help – http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/dry-potatoes.htm

    I must admit my first year growing a garden full of different veg I still am learning what needs water, when and how much and I do believe my spuds got a little time without their daily bread…water.

    I grew Pentamin Javelins, Wilma, Maris Pipers and King Edward (one plant yield in the happy quantities!). They appear to have a new pot look to them and don’t have the dry texture I would expect them to have, must I store them for a month or so in the dark to get them to dry a little?

    Cheers, Ian.

  19. Daily Spud

    Hi there Ian and thanks for passing on the link – ’tis true, spuds and other veg do need their water, there’s no more basic thing than that!

    As to the matter of your King Edwards, they are, as I recall, a maincrop potato, which means they need around 18-20 weeks in the ground from time of planting to develop. If you’re lifting them at this stage, then I’m guessing they’ve had quite a few weeks less than that, which would explain the new potato look and the fact that they have less dry matter than you’d expect.

    If you have any plants that you haven’t lifted, then I would suggest leaving them to grow on for another while yet. For the ones that you’ve lifted, storage isn’t going to affect the dry matter greatly at this stage I don’t think. Treat them as you might new potatoes and just enjoy them that way!

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