I’m a little late at getting my third annual “potato harvest” post out. To catch you up, the first year, I mixed half old potting soil with half finished compost in two growbags, and had the following measly harvest:

Then last year, I used half old and half new potting soil in the same grow bags. The plants seemed much happier all summer, and I was excited about getting a better harvest. Here were the startling results:

So this year, I started off with a layer of old potting soil mixed with a bit of compost and slow release fertilizer. I planted Colorado Rose, a regular size reddish potato (instead of the fingerlings I’d planted the two previous years). Then as the plants grew, instead of mounding with more of that same mixture, I added straw layers, covering up all but a few inches of the plants. I learned this technique from the fabulous book Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West by Jane Shellenberger. (Truly this is a fabulous book. If you are a Colorado vegetable gardener and you do not have it, put it on your holiday wish list!)Well, the plants did mostly okay – not as big and lovely as last year, but they were flopping out of their bags by the end of the season. I had a hard time knowing whether I was over or under watering, given the super hot temperature stretches we had this summer. I didn’t see any flowers. Truly, I was prepared for another harvest of tiny little things like the first year’s.

Imagine my surprise when I reached in and pulled out some of the top-most straw layer and grabbed a full size potato! Wow! I immediately had visions of ten pounds of gorgeous BIG red potatoes. Well….that’s not quite how it turned out. Here is this year’s harvest:

My husband said he figured I ended up with the same volume of potatoes, just in slightly larger individual specimens. Here they are after being cleaned up (aren’t they pretty?). They are getting ready, along with the package of smoked salmon from my dad, to become a delicious rosti:
Will I try again next year? Oh….I don’t know…..(but I just betcha I might!).