You had me at potato: Spuds in the victory garden | The Enterprise
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VICTORY GARDEN GAL

You had me at potato: Spuds in the victory garden

Posted on April 5, 2021

Local newsColumns

DeeAnn Rivera

DeeAnn Rivera

Don’t forget: the Spring Hope Garden Club is coming. Join us at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, at Michael’s Showside Grill. Be part of the fun — because gardeners have got the dirt!

Speaking of dirt, potatoes have gotten a bad rap in my opinion. What other food can you make as a side dish, a main dish, dessert, remove rust, remove berry stains, soothe burns, use in crafts, grow more potatoes and use to make vodka?

I’ve been re-introducing myself to the wonders of potatoes after doing some research about their nutrition. Potatoes are not the bad cousin to the sweet potato. Potatoes are high in potassium, fiber and vitamin C, and the average white potato (regular size, not the Texas super-sized) has only 147 calories. Where they get off course in the calorie department is when they are fried or loaded with a lot of cheese, sour cream and butter. Of course, butter makes everything better!

Even if you don’t have garden space, you can grow potatoes in containers in a sunny location. Amazon has all kinds of potato-growing containers you can purchase. I like being thrifty and using things I already have. A burlap bag, a plastic storage bin or cardboard box will work. I use an old 55-gallon trash bin that I put drainage holes in at the bottom. A bonus is that it has wheels and it’s easy to move even after it gets full.

Besides potatoes being stuffed full of good nutrients, they are also fun, fast and easy to grow — my favorite kind of crop! It’s only about 90 days from planting to harvest. I’m starting mine after Easter because I hope we won’t have any more frosts. I do have room in my storage shed that I can put them in if we have a few more nights that freeze.

This year, I found my potato seeds at Lowe’s. Our farmers market is opening this weekend, so I’m going to look for some other varieties. My favorites are fingerlings and Yukon gold. The fingerlings are a quick side dish. Do not peel, just boil until tender (15-20 minutes), chop them into bite-sized pieces and add salt, pepper, rosemary and butter or olive oil — it’s a big, hearty yum!

I like to roast the Yukon gold potatoes and make them into mashed potatoes. Again, no need to peel off the outside — leave the goodness on and enjoy! To roast, chop into bite-sized pieces, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper (add rosemary, thyme or basil if you want) and roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. They crisp up like french fries, but there’s no guilt or trans fats.

My daughter and I grew these last year and were shocked at how many we had in just a small space. When I grow potatoes in my containers, I often have to add more dirt and mulch twice a week! I think this is almost as fun as harvesting — watching them grow up so fast is amazing, plus, your potatoes will bud all along the area you bury, which means more to eat or share!

To grow potatoes: Decide on your container or if you are just planting in the ground. Put a layer of good composted soil (you can use premade soil, but it gets expensive. Put in your potato seeds (the eyes that are sprouting — you can separately plant each spout, cut them apart and bury. Cover with more dirt — at least 3 to 4 inches. Water thoroughly, but don’t waterlog them. The soil should feel like a wet washcloth, like you’d wash your face with. Wait a few days and they will be emerging from the soil.

Bury them again with dirt, straw, compost or leaves. Keep burying them until your container is full with dirt and straw/leaves to the top. If you are planting in the ground, keep “hilling” up the dirt. Harvest them 90 days later.

Besides checking to see if you need to add dirt, you will need to keep the soil watered all the way to the bottom. For my contraption, I turned on the water hose and let it run until water was leaking from my drainage holes in the bottom.

To harvest, we took a tarp and dumped out the trash bin and dug through the dirt and compost like hunting for Easter eggs! Some of them were oddly shaped, but they were really delicious. I was able to reuse the harvested dirt and put it back into my compost pile.

I made this cake for my family for Easter (yes, the mashed potatoes had the peels on). I have read that a cake made with mashed potatoes will stay moist for several days. Since it was gone the same day, I haven’t been able to test out this mashed potato cake recipe from 1929.

Happy planting!

DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident who blogs at VictoryGardenGal.com. Email her at VictoryGardenGal@gmail.com.

Mashed Potato Cake

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups sugar

⅔ cups butter

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg yolk beaten

2 egg whites beaten (separately)

3 squares melted unsweetened chocolate

1 cup warmed mashed potatoes (can use leftovers- even with peels on)

¼ teaspoon salt

2 ½ cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

DIRECTIONS

Cream 1 ½ cups sugar with ⅔ cup butter; add ½ cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 beaten egg yolks. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add 3 squares melted unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup warmed mashed potato, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 ¼ cups flour and 4 teaspoons baking powder. Beat 3 minutes. Fold in 2 egg whites, beaten stiff.

Bake in layers in a moderate oven — about 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit — for 25 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Put together with butter frosting between the layers and on top.

Butter Frosting

INGREDIENTS

1 box powdered sugar

1 stick of butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Splash of milk

DIRECTIONS 

Cream together powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Add ⅛ cup of milk in slowly until frosting is the consistency you desire. To make it thicker, add more powdered sugar; to make it thinner, add more milk.

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