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Fingerling Potatoes (page 3 of 3)

by Charlie Nardozzi

How to Grow Fingerlings

Grow fingerling potatoes just as you would any potato. But keep in mind that all but 'French Fingerling' need at least 90 to 100 days of frost-free weather to produce tubers. Plant seed pieces in the garden after the last frost in your area. To avoid diseases, plant where potatoes or related plants (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) have not grown for at least a year.

Make fingerling seed pieces smaller than those for ordinary potatoes. Cut tubers into 1-ounce disks that have at least 2 to 3 eyes per disk. Larger potato varieties usually require a 2-ounce piece.

Set the seed pieces in 4- to 6-inch-deep planting holes or trenches. Because fingerling plants are usually larger and rangier than modern varieties, give them more room than you would typical potatoes: Space seed pieces about 18 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart.

Like other potatoes, fingerlings need a loose, deep, sandy, or sandy loam soil, or soils generously amended with organic matter such as compost. Ideally, cultivate a 3- to 4-inch layer of composted manure into the planting bed early in the season. All potatoes need regular irrigation or rainfall throughout the season. But be especially careful to keep fingerlings' soil moist. Even brief dry periods will produce misshaped or smaller tubers.

Once the plants have emerged from the ground, hill soil up, covering all but one-third of the sprout. Repeat hilling three to four weeks later. Mulch the rows with a 4- to 6-inch-thick layer of straw mulch when plants emerge to help conserve moisture and stop weed seeds from germinating.

Fingerlings are no more or less susceptible to potato pests (blights, scab, and insects such as Colorado potato beetle) than ordinary potatoes. To help prevent disease, plant certified disease-free potatoes, maintain soil pH close to 6, mulch with hay or straw, and avoid overhead watering. To control Colorado potato beetle larvae, check weekly for the clusters of orange eggs on the undersides of leaves and crush them. The larvae can be controlled by spraying Bt 'San Diego' when the larvae are small. Repeat spraying as the eggs hatch. The spray does not control the adults, so you can either handpick the adults or spray them with pyrethrum insecticide.

Because the tubers are small, picking and cleaning can take more time than with larger varieties. The easiest cleaning method is a strong spray of water from a hose. Beware: Once you start eating fingerlings, you'll never want to limit yourself to one type of potato again.

Fingerling Serving Ideas

Here's a sampling of how some of America's finest restaurants are serving fingerling potatoes.

  • Baked with wild striped bass and shellfish broth, served with whole garlic, tomato, and olive oil -- Gotham Bar and Grill, New York
  • Roasted, served with seared diver sea scallops, toasted peanuts, and caramelized endive broth -- Water's Edge, New York
  • Roasted with breast of chicken, carrots, leeks, and lemon thyme in butter sauce -- Jake's Restaurant, Pennsylvania
  • Roasted plain, served with leg of lamb and yellow wax beans and red torpedo onions -- Equus, California
  • Roasted with medallions of ostrich, served with applesauce, caramelized onions, corn, tomato broth, and fall vegetables -- Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, California
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