Red Maria is a very productive late-season potato
When author Louis Hémon wrote “Maria Chapdelaine,” his epic tale of a lonely French-Canadian girl, he really was talking about Québec, and the mass migration from there to the industrial towns of the United States So when a brilliant red potato was developed, it was named after the title character, and the Red Maria potato was born.
This is a late-season, very productive potato that is resistant to common scab as well as many other potato diseases. It is an excellent storage potato, so crops dug in October will last through Christmas. Red Maria is almost perfectly round with very shallow eyes and white flesh.
The semi-upright plants often spread slightly.
Red Maria is a good all-purpose potato with extra-sweet moist flesh that is perfect for boiling, mashing, roasting, or being made into potato salad. It retains its moisture when baked.
Like all potatoes, Red Maria does best in soil that drains well and is loose.
Plant potatoes where they will get full sunlight – at least six hours of sun every day. Space the rows about 3 feet apart. The best soil pH level to grow potatoes is a bit acidic, between 6 and 6.5, but they will grow in soil with pH as low as 5.
Make a trench 6 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches deep. You can add compost or well-rotted manure before sowing the seed potatoes.
Gently press the seed potatoes, with the cut side down, about a foot apart in the trench. For smaller potatoes, plant them closer together. Cover each piece with 3 to 4 inches of loose soil.
You can cut large seed potatoes with a sharp, sterilized knife; just be sure each piece has at least 2 eyes.
If the seed potatoes are the size of an egg or smaller, just plant them whole. Let any freshly cut seed potatoes heal for at least a day or two before planting. This lets them form a protective layer or scab over the cut surface, which will help keep in moisture and prevent rot.
About two weeks after planting, you will see sprouts appear, and you can 'hill up' the soil with an additional few inches around the plant.
Keep adding more soil every few weeks. You can also add a good organic mulch of straw, grass clippings or leaves to keep weeds down and keep the soil cool.
Your Red Maria potatoes will be ready to dig up when the leaves begin to die back. To toughen up potatoes for storage, do not water them for a few weeks before harvesting. Cut off the dead leaves and stalks, but do not dig the potatoes for another two weeks.
Never leave your potatoes in the sun after digging them up, or they can develop green skin. Green potatoes contain the toxic substance solanine, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea when eaten. Always peel away any green areas on potatoes before cooking them.
Store your potatoes in a cool, dark area away from fruits, especially apples, because apples release ethylene gas which will rot the potatoes.
Plan now to order Red Maria seed potatoes for next spring. You will be rewarded with bright-red, sweet, white-fleshed round potatoes that will make you dream of Quebec, and thoughts of the lovely Maria Chapdelaine. No need to abandon the farm for the factories of the United States.