New Potatoes are one of our fun crops of early summer. We usually start harvesting in late June or early July. In my early farming days, it was a stretch goal to get them in by the Fourth of July, but now we regularly harvest them a week or two ahead of that thanks to a technique called “greensprouting.” Potatoes, as many of you know, are started by planting a seed potato that then grows into a full potato plant. You are probably also familiar with the white sprouts that grow out of a potato that you’ve left on the counter for too long. As an aside, conventional potatoes are often treated with sprout inhibitors that keep them from sprouting; who knows what they inhibit in your body. Conventional potatoes are also planted with an insecticide (one of the neonicotinoids that have gotten so much press lately for their toxic impact on honeybee populations) that is taken up by the plant and expressed throughout the whole plant tissue so that the plant itself is toxic to insects that try to eat it. The insecticide is supposed to have have a half-life such that by the time that spud gets to your table (well, maybe not your table if you are buying organic!) the potato is “safe” to eat. But anyway, back to greensprouting. Greensprouting essentially pre-starts the growth of the seed potato; we get our potatoes in March and keep them in a warm, dark place (sixty degrees–warm for March anyway) for a few weeks. After the sprouts start to emerge, we spread them out in the greenhouse to expose them to light, which makes those sprouts form into a sturdy green plantlet that won’t break off in the planting process. This has allowed us to get our potatoes a couple of weeks earlier. It’s always fun to see the rapid growth of the potatoes at this stage of the game. We had to dig a half a bed of potatoes 2 weeks ago to get 2 buckets of tiny new potatoes. Last week it was a third of a bed for 4 buckets, and this week it was less than a quarter of a bed for the same 4 buckets. As they grow, the price will come down and by next week we will have some in the share. We now grow mostly just new potatoes, and leave the storage potatoes to bigger organic growers (part of the way we support the whole local food system), but when we were growing potatoes for storage, we really thought that greensprouting helped us get higher yields since by jump-starting that exponential growth curve before the insect pressure got too high. New potatoes are a real treat; they are extra moist and creamy and great for summer eating.