Potato, All Blue –
As the name suggests, this heirloom potato is blue (purple) inside and out. ‘All Blue’ is a flavorful potato that gets its pleasing color from high levels of anthocyanins, which are high in antioxidants. The color is maintained even when the potatoes are cooked. It’s a mid-season plant that produces potatoes around 80 days after planting.
Potatoes are tender perennials widely cultivated as seasonal annual crops. They are bushy and have crinkled compound green foliage. Their small, star-shaped flowers bloom in late spring or summer and often lack fertile male pollen. Those of ‘All Blue’ are white. Bees pollinate the fertile blooms and small, round, seed-filled fruits follow that are greenish yellow.
The starchy potato tubers develop from underground stems. The skin of ‘All Blue’ tubers is purplish brown with purple ringed flesh. The small, shallow, pinkish eyes on each tuber are leaf buds that can sprout to form new plants. All green parts of a potato plant are poisonous.
Grow potatoes in full sun and fertile, rich, loamy soil that’s evenly moist but well-drained. Plant seed potatoes deep along berms to increase productivity and make harvest easier. Drought stress and high heat will reduce productivity significantly. The potato is a cool season crop typically grown when conditions are moderately warm and pleasant. In frost-free, subtropical areas they are grown in winter or spring when conditions are more favorable.
Potato beetles are the chief pest and must be regularly removed or they will completely defoliate a plant in no time. Fungal blights also destroy crops. Regular rotation of potato crops will reduce the instances of re-infection with soil-borne fungal diseases.
Potatoes are rarely propagated by seed. Instead, whole small tubers or chunks of tubers with eyes are planted. These are called “”seed potatoes”” and produce exact clones of parent plants. In temperate regions potatoes should be planted one to three weeks before the last frost date. Though susceptible to frost, they are slow to emerge from the soil. The new shoots can be protected from late frosts with frost cloth. As plants emerge, the soil can be mounded even higher around them to build the hill. Any exposed tubers should be immediately covered because sunlight causes them to turn green and green potatoes are inedible.
After flowering, the plants start to develop their tubers. Once the foliage begins to turn yellow, the tubers may be dug up and eaten, though it is common to raid potato mounds early for new potatoes. The tubers should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location where they can last for months. Never chill potatoes as this will cause them to become sweet and unpalatable.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
Select a site with full sun and deep, well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
Buy seed potatoes of early varieties for planting as soon as soil can be worked in the spring. In the North, plant seed potatoes of later varieties from mid-May to early mid-June, 4 to 5 weeks after planting early varieties. In the South, plant seed potatoes of late varieties 1 to 2 weeks after early varieties. Cut seed potatoes into small pieces with two to three eyes per piece a few days before planting. Dig trenches 6 inches wide, 6 inches deep, and 30 to 36 inches apart. Space seed potatoes 10 to 15 inches apart in the trench and cover with about 4 inches of soil.
Protect emerging plants with soil or other cover in case of a hard late spring frost. Hill the soil up against the plants about a week after leaves emerge from soil. Repeat 2 to 3 weeks later. Be sure to provide adequate water 6 to 10 weeks after planting, when the potatoes start to form. Contact your local County Extension office for controls of common potato pests such as Colorado potato beetle, European corn borer, and leafhoppers.
You may begin harvesting new potatoes six to eight weeks after planting when tubers are 1 to 2 inches in diameter by carefully digging next to stems with a small fork. Wait for the main harvest until plant tops start to die back on their own. For storage, cure undamaged, harvested tubers by placing them in a dark humid location at 65° to 70°F for two weeks. For long-term storage, place cured tubers in the dark at 40° to 50°F. At colder temperatures, potatoes may become sugary.