A plough and harrow specifically for potatoes, and a potato sorter – evidence of the good times, when the farmers achieved a degree of prosperity by growing potatoes.
In around 1900, the Bavarian government established an experimental fenland estate in Karlshuld, in order to boost farming in the Donaumoos region. Scientists analysed the soil, carried out fertiliser tests and experimented with growing various crops. They discovered that the peat soil is especially suitable for growing rye and potatoes.
The farmers received suitable seed and fertilisers from the state. Producers’ associations monitored quality and organised the sale. It was a success story, because by 1938, one in every three seed potatoes planted in Bavaria came from the Donaumoos fen.
One elderly farmer reported that in around 1950, the profit from a single potato harvest paid for the building of new stables – and enabled him to “marry off” his daughter.
In April and May, the farmers would plant out the potatoes: thirty thousand tubers per hectare, that is, for every 2.5 acres, all placed at the same prescribed distance from each other. As soon as the seed potatoes had chitted, the rows of plants would be gradually ridged up – covered with a growing mound of soil. Inside that mound, the tubers developed. By mid-November at the latest, the potatoes were ploughed up and kept in storage clamps over the winter.
In spring, the potato grader went into action – note the example in the corner on your left. The potatoes were tipped in at the top, then the grading sieves were set into motion, and at each level, the potatoes dropped into a sack, automatically sorted by size. The smallest were offered for sale as seed potatoes.
So much for the story of our famous tuber. And now, we’re going to nip over to the Hofstetter House.