For a potato that's been around since World War II, Kennebec sure gets a lot of attention and praise! The choice of fine restaurants and gourmet cooks everywhere, it's also the home gardener's favorite for early, generous crops that taste delicious and store well. Give it a try this season and we predict it will become your go-to tater, too!
Kennebec is a large, oval potato with a thin tan skin (easy to peel), few pockmarks or craters, and firm, dense white flesh. It is good for baking, chipping, mashing, scalloping, and boiling. Superbly disease-resistant (it was developed by the USDA), it adapts to gardens in all climates and conditions across the U.S., and was originally selected in Maine. In other words, this is a homegrown potato that anyone can grow and everyone will love!
Finishing earlier than most others, Kennebec also delivers a few extra spuds in every harvest, too. Possibly this is because of its terrific disease-fighting capabilities, which keeps the plants healthy and highly productive. Kennebec is resistant to potato leafroll virus, late blight, black leg, fusarium (dry rot), phoma rot, potato wart, and two types of potato virus. You just can't beat it for ease of care and successful crops every time!
Expect these plants to reach just 8 inches high but spread 18 to 24 inches wide in fertile, well-worked, well-drained soil. Like all Potatoes, Kennebec fares best in sandy, enriched soil, but if you have heavy or clay soil, just used a raised bed or plant the tubers more shallowly, mulching them well with straw. Here's how to grow them:
If your soil is normal to sandy, work in some gypsum and Epsom salts before planting, then set the tubers 3 or 4 inches deep and about a foot apart. (If your soil is heavier, plant more shallowly and rely on mulch rather than soil for coverage.) Potato tubers should be planted in early spring, at the same time as you sow your green peas. If a late frost threatens, just toss a few inches of straw or other mulch over the young plants, and chances are they'll be fine.
When the shoots emerge, you may want to sow some bush beans alongside the young plants -- they'll keep the bugs down! Basil and Summer Savory are also fine companions that keep insects at bay -- we usually just wait to see which Potatoes didn't sprout, and fill in the gaps with these helpful herbs! (Of course, Marigold, friend to all vegetables for its ability to destroy more nematodes than commercial repellents, is always a beautiful choice too!)
Potatoes tend to grow their fruit right under the soil, and over time the tubers may stick out above the soil line. This can cause greening, which ruins the flavor (and adds toxins to the Potato), so watch your plants and add more soil, straw, or peat moss as necessary to keep the taters under wraps! The plants may also bloom, and small, hard green fruits will appear when the flowers pass. Don't be tempted to harvest them -- they're toxic!
When it's time to harvest, begin at the outer edges of each plant and work your way in. You want to gently turn over the soil using a garden fork or blunt-edged spade, to avoid cutting into the potatoes. Store the spuds, unwashed and not touching one another, in a totally dark, cool place, where they'll last for several weeks. (You can eat them after they've sprouted; just cut away the inedible sprout and its eye.) Once you've harvested the crop from end to end, begin in a new spot and work your way through it from a different direction. You'll be amazed at how many spuds you missed the first time!
This bag of tubers plants 20 to 25 feet of row. Make Kennebec part of your permanent vegetable garden -- try it this season!