Sharecropping. Or, Potato, Staff of Life

A good friend of mine has been building a house single-handedly for seven or eight years now, and it occurred to me this spring that his front yard would make a great potato patch.

In what was admittedly a great gardening year in terms of rain, I only visited the potatoes four times: once to plant, twice to weed, and a final time to harvest the taters. Our efforts were rewarded with about 100 pounds of beautiful Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold potatoes.


the patch, late September



there is potato scab, a harmless toughening of the skin in some places, in the soil at this location



our kids know where their food comes from

Much maligned in our overfed times, the potato is a miracle food. The potato is the Edmonton gardener's only chance to really make a dent in how much of his food comes from his backyard, since one cannot grow more calories worth of food in a smaller space than with this nutritious vegetable.

Granted, the latest research does show that, if you are inactive and eat a lot of them, the simple carbohydrates in which their energy is contained will encourage weight gain. Still, I believe that potatoes can be "part of this nutritious breakfast".

Did you know that 100 grams of potatoes contain 24% of a day's vitamin C? And 14% of a day's iron? (source)

I celebrate the homegrown potato as a delicious, nutritious, near-zero-carbon super food. I add them to soups and stews, fry grated potatoes into hashed browns, add them to coconut curries, and bake them with cheese and leeks into scalloped potatoes.

But the best part is the harvesting. Digging up potatoes in the Fall is one of the great pleasures of being an urban farmer in Edmonton.