Gardening Tips: Potatoes and the Apple Season | Chroniclers


The unusually hot weather continued until mid-October and I’m not complaining at all. It has been humid and hot for several weeks now and many garden plants continue to grow. I’m hoping to get a really good beet crop from the seeds I planted on July 22, right after harvesting my garlic crop. I planted carrots on August 15th and it doesn’t look like they will reach a harvestable size anytime soon, but maybe if this heat wave continues I could still get a decent harvest by mid- November. Now is the best time to plant garlic for the next season. Remember, the bigger the cloves you plant, the bigger the bulbs you will harvest next July. Garlic prefers rich, well-drained, fertile soil, so take the time to plow and add organic fertilizer now.

My grandson, Danny, dug some of my potatoes this past weekend and I was dismayed to see that about a third of them had been damaged by mice, voles or chipmunks. We cut off the damaged parts and had “Grand Bob’s Roasted Potatoes” as a side dish for dinner. Thinly slice the potatoes and place them in an aluminum pan. Sprinkle olive oil on each layer and season with S&P, garlic powder and onion powder. Bake at 400 degrees until tender, or toast a single layer of very thin slices for the best chips you’ll ever eat. If you’ve never eaten freshly baked potatoes, you’re missing out on a treat.

The potatoes that ‘volunteered’ this season from neglected, unharvested potatoes I planted in 2020 produced huge ‘lunkers’. Planting, or neglecting to harvest whole potatoes, results in “volunteers” often large, but few in number. Planting smaller cut pieces of potatoes usually results in more tubers, but smaller ones. Two of these “volunteers” weighed nearly a pound each. This fall I’m going to try to make sure I dig them all out, but I try to do this every year and usually fail.

The rest of this week’s column is from Ulster County Cooperative Extension. I rarely include recipes in these columns, but this week is an exception in two ways.

Did you know that apples are the official fruit of the state of New York? Celebrate our official state fruits during Apple Month. Zestar and SnapDragon are two new varieties that you can find in supermarkets, farm stalls, and farmer’s markets. Zestar is tangy with a nice crunch and SnapDragon was developed by Cornell University and is sweeter with a “crunchy monster”.

Are you interested in picking apples with your family? Use this link to find a U-Pick farm near you. Be sure to check with the farm for its schedules and COVID restrictions before you go apple picking. A large apple has 130 calories, 20% of your daily fiber requirement, no sodium, fat, or added sugars, and is easy to take anywhere and eat for a snack.

Here are some fun apple facts from the New York Apple Association: Apples are part of the rose family, along with pears, plums, peaches, and cherries. It takes about 36 apples to make a gallon of apple cider. Apples float because 25% of their volume is air. The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet 4 inches long. (She was 16 at the time and grew up to be a sales manager at an apple tree nursery.) (Source: Guinness World Records)

Taste the test apples with your children. At the farmers market, farm stall or local supermarket, choose 2-3 different varieties of apples to try. When you get home, wash and cut each apple. As a group, try one variety of apples at a time and decide which apple is your family’s favorite.

Microwaveable applesauce for 7 servings Serving size: half cup

Ingredients: 6 apples, peeled, seeded and quartered or chopped (about 8 cups) 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup sugar (or less to taste) 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: 1. Place apples and water in a 2 quart microwave safe dish. Cover with a microwave-safe lid. 2. Cook on high power for 10 to 12 minutes or until apples are tender enough to be mashed. 3. Use a potato masher or fork to make applesauce into pieces. 4. Gradually add the sugar to achieve the desired sweetness. Add the cinnamon. 5. Serve hot or chilled. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

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