Earlier this week I told you about our harvest for the food bank. The vegetables have been sitting in my garage waiting for me to tend to them. Many people think we just dig the potatoes up and drop them off at the food bank. Definitely not. Maybe its all my years working in the retail food industry but most people would rather have their vegetables cleaned up a bit. I was waiting for a dry day to get the potatoes ready for drop off. Yesterday we had a break in the rain and I was outside to take advantage of it. You can see my plant sale shelf came in handy this week. Everything I have harvested this week is laid out to dry and the potatoes are covered in burlap and newspaper. If it hadn’t been raining the onions would be outside curing on my shed porch.
This is how the potatoes look after they are freshly harvested. I placed newspaper on the bottom of flats to catch the soil as it fell off. There was still work to do. Hubby had offered to wash the potatoes on the day of harvest and I quickly said not a chance. He didn’t understand. Sure washing is fine if you are using the potatoes right away. Have you ever smelled a rotten potato? I am sure you have. If we washed the potatoes they could rot in storage. It’s not like the commercial farmers who have washers to clean their stock and air dry them before storing. Lets look at how I do it on a small scale.
I grabbed a flat of potatoes and got started. This is what the potato looked like before cleaning.
I grabbed my favourite vegetable brush. Isn’t it cute? The brush isn’t too rough as I don’t want to skin the potatoes, just brush the loose soil off.
After a bit of brushing this is how the potato looked. Compare it to the before photo and I think you will agree, the potato is more desirable looking. We are so used to supermarket vegetables that a bit of dirt will often turn people off. I often wonder if people even think about where vegetables grow.
I also like to oust any green potatoes from the harvest. Greening on potatoes is caused by exposure to light and warm temperatures. It is most likely that this potato was growing close to the surface of the soil. It won’t kill you to eat it as it would take a lot more than just one piece to make you ill. Honestly, I will just cut this green part off and use the rest. I hate to see wasted food.
I will cull the damaged potatoes from the harvest. Some may have been accidentally cut in the harvesting process.As much as we try to be careful digging the potatoes out, a few always get damaged. Any cut potatoes should be used immediately. I also remove any potatoes with insect damage. You can see this potato has something bugging it, wireworms perhaps. Luckily I didn’t see any wireworms coming out of the potatoes this year. Not sure what this hole is from but no one would want one with such damage.
Now to weigh up the harvest and drop it off. I like to keep records so we know how much is donated each year. In the fall the students come to the Ladner Community Garden and tally the weights of the donated vegetables. It’s a good math lesson in the school garden.