Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden Journal 6/27/09:
Digging Up an Early Red Potato Harvest

Volunteer New Potatoes and a Few 'Test' Heads of Garlic

Realization of the Day:
Gardening must be one of the few things where your ineffeciency will sometimes end up rewarding you.

Of course that's not always the case—like when you never get around to mulching something and get a bumper crop of weeds that's twice as tall as what you're trying to grow (been there, still doing that).

But today some of my carelessness out there paid off in the form of the beautiful little red bounty you see above. Apparently I missed a few potatoes when I was digging the last of them in the fall, and when they started sprouting up come spring I decided to leave them—even though they were growing in the middle of what was now my garlic bed. I figured they would be growing deeper than the shallow rooted garlic and probably wouldn't bother it.

My 'real' potato planting (which I'll be writing about in a future post) didn't happen until May 12th (I always plant my potatoes much later than anybody else around here), so this early harvest—which I'll simply scrub clean, cut into chunks, boil until tender, and toss with organic butter and a sprinkling of salt—is especially welcome.

There are only enough potatoes for a small serving each, but for the amount of effort involved—which was zero, unless you count the three minutes it took to dig them up—I'll gladly take it. I bet they'll taste wonderful alongside a couple of homegrown grilled lamb leg steaks, some of the green beans I picked yesterday (more about these in an upcoming post, too), and maybe a warmed up hunk of Four Hour Parisian Baguette from the freezer.

The garlic, on the other hand, is a different story. It should have been planted back in the fall, but for some now unfathomable reason I didn't get it into the ground until February—and have the disappointingly small bulbs to prove it. I went ahead and planted it so late because I figured whatever I ended up with would be better than nothing. This is when your inefficiency becomes experimenting.

Has your lack of attention (or downright laziness) ever paid off in the garden?

© Copyright 2009, the spud loving foodie farm blog where sometimes it seems like the volunteer plants (like this beautiful basil and these sprawling lemon cucumber vines, which are only two of many) provide nearly as much bounty as the cultivated ones—thank goodness.


  1. Today I picked my first ripe watermelon from one of the two volunteer vines.

    Last year, I was cutting the watermelons in the garden and tossing them over the fence for the horses. I must have scattered a few seeds. I got one sprouting in the middle of the sugar snap peas (no problem, they climb upwards) and one in the middle of the spinach (no problem; this is FL, the spinach wouldn't last nearly as long as the watermelon would take to grow).

    Unfortunately that second watermelon plant is trying really hard to take over hubby's jalapeño patch, but still. Free-ish watermelon! All I have to do is turn the vines around every so often when they get too close.

  2. I bought black beans by mistake (didn't wear my reading glasses when shopping), but I planted them anyway - near the pole beans, which shut out the sun almost completely. I got only 4 or 5 pods, saved the black beans for seed, planted them this year.
    Just as they were coming up, a neighborhood baby bunny found a small hole in the garden fence right next to the black bean plants. They're gone now. I mean - the beans are history, and I fixed the fence.

  3. Yes! Last year I did not have a garden, as I had a new baby in the spring, but I did manage to shake the chard stalks over the garden bed before I pulled them up & threw them on the compost pile. This year I have a veritible carpet of the healthiest chard I've ever grown!

  4. Hi! I just stumbled across your blog today and it's great. I haven't had the time to get too far into it, but it is full of really good information. My husband and I are first-year farmers in SW MO and I've been blogging about our (in)experience on my own blog. We've got a tiny 10 acre hobby farm, 35 chickens, 4 ducks and 2 donkeys and a weak vegetable garden. This year (and every year following) is all about learning.

  5. My garden turned out terrible this year. DH's tiller pooped out and the heat and humidity gave me a really big crop of weeds. I can barely see my peppers or tomatoes. :(


  6. We got our garlic in late- work drama and the subsequent losing of the job kept me from doing much of anything last fall. But, like you, I did get some planted in late winter/early spring- I forget exactly when but I know I blogged about it. I haven't seen any scapes going up, but I may have planted a variety that doesn't do that since I see the greens are starting to yellow. I figure whatever I get is better than no garlic at all.

    Each year I struggle with whether or not I should let the volunteers grow where they want. This year we haven't had a lot- I saw a squash of some kind over near the compost heap. Again, we'll see what we get.

  7. I too have a stray potato growing in my garlic bed. My garlic isn't quite ready to dig yet, but I'm excited to dig up garlic and potatoes, how fun.

  8. Two summers/falls ago, I missed some tomatoes that the birds and squirrels had gotten to. This past summer I planted two tomato plants, but ended up having about six surprise plants come up.

  9. I completely agree that negligence sometimes pays off. I think it is also the joy of getting something for 'nothing' is the real treat.

    We have just inherited an allotment from someone else and they had obviously planted potatoes then left them in. I have got so many sprouting up over my other veg, but I really can't be sorry. Another few weeks and they might yield something interesting.

    Many, many times I have been saved from early frosts by inertia and laziness.

  10. I am really bad about cleaning up the garden in the fall. I just pulled up last years stakes and cages friday. Since I never do fall clean up I usually find some interesting stuff in the summer (I also plant really late for my area) This year I found enough swiss chard to add to soup and 5 different volunteer tomatoes. Those I dug up and am holding in pots. I just got my whole yard graded (including the former garden area) Once that is finished I hope to replant the volunteers and have a few tomatoes at least this year. The grading of the yard is going to prevent almost all gardening this year.

  11. What a welcome surprise! I haven't tried growing potatoes (okay, I haven't tried growing much of anything ... but I am working on that). Perhaps next year though. I am working my way up.

  12. I always get sunflowers popping up everywhere because I leave them for the birds. This year several turned out to be pretty good pea supposts. And I too, have a couple of watermelon volunteers. Don't know if they will make to harvest. Garlic..gollee always wanted to grow it, but who feels like planting something in the fall. LOL

  13. Funny you mentioned about the garlic - I planted some in April (I think) mainly for the greens and the scapes rather than the bulbs. I had no expectations because of the timing, but they are the stars of the garden and I love the greens they are giving each night. My lack of planning has given me more enjoyable yield than planning would have with the traditional bulbs.

  14. My laziness with weeding typically rewards me with something good. Last year was no different, I left the last pumpkin seedling to live and it produced 6 pumpkins for me. Enough to decorate the porch for the fall and then turn into puree for pies.

    Laziness tastes good with pie crust.


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!