The earliest potatoes are picked with the index finger.
Today came for the kitchen gardener almost "sacred" moment, when the first new potatoes could be harvested. A little earlier than usual, but the weather has been warm and a careful watering has replaced the rain that has been virtually non-existent for a month.
New potatoes are really just newly dug up, "immature" tubers, where some of the sugars have not yet been converted to starch. Therefore, the coveted new potatoes can have an almost delicate sweetness that is not found later in the season in the ripe ones of this kind. It is the same as you can experience with, for example, freshly harvested peas or corn, which after a few days (or less) loses its sweetness and becomes more starchy and floury.
Therefore, the potatoes must be taken early before they have become too ripe, where the farmer of course harvests entire plants with machines. You do not have to do that in the kitchen garden now. Instead, stick your finger in the ground here in late May until one day you come across a potato tuber of appropriate size. Then pry the tuber up from the ground with the index finger while the rest of the plant remains standing. In this way, the smaller tubers on the plant have the opportunity to grow larger. This can be continued with perhaps every other day until one does not come across more suitable potatoes at the depth of the index finger. And then you can go over to pull whole plants up - and then maybe find some in the size of a baked potato at the bottom!
There are some radishes still in the bed, but they are no longer as mild in taste as they have been. Radishes are best in cool weather where they are just mild, while in hot weather they get a somewhat stronger and sharp taste. Maybe a little too strong for some people's taste buds on the open sandwich, but here lately we have discovered that even large, strong specimens are excellent fried in a wok or on the pan along with other greens.
Written by Peter Norris, May 30, 2018