Port Townsend gardener’s Ozette potatoes among club’s offerings this weekend

PORT TOWNSEND — Pat McMinds can hardly wait for the Port Townsend Garden Club’s annual sale on Saturday.

But it’s not because she wants to jump-start her garden by buying vegetable starts.

It’s because she wants to get rid of them.

Pat is one of dozens of garden club members who have rolled up their sleeves, donned gloves and dug in early to propagate vegetables from seed, pot up strawberries and berry vines, divide perennials and dig up shrubs to sell at the sale, an annual rite of spring that takes place at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In addition to the bounty of her greenhouse, McMinds, aka the Potato Lady, is sharing her stash of Ozette potatoes by giving out starts at the gate as long as they last SEmD for free.

“They’re reliable,” she said of the variety. “They do well here and don’t get too scabby.”

But Pat had never heard of Ozette potatoes, she said, until she saw an article about the Neah Bay tubers in the Peninsula Daily News a few years ago.

That’s where she learned that Ozette potatoes have been cultivated for several centuries by the Makahs after traders brought them up the coast from South America.

“I thought it was a neat story,” Pat said.

But when she wanted to try them out, she couldn’t find the variety in garden stores, so went to the Food Co-op and bought them as new potatoes.

That was two or three years ago.

Now she grows enough so that she and her husband, Doug, eat the bigger potatoes during the winter and save the smaller ones for seed potatoes to plant in the spring.

Ozette potatoes are funny-looking, she said, but their bumpy exterior harbors more flavor than other varieties she’s tried.

Her favorite way to cook them: par-boil them, then slice and fry them.

“They hold their shape better,” she said. “They don’t go to mush.”

Pat also has started spinach, chard, bok choy, lettuce and lettuce bowls in her greenhouse, and dug up iris and roses from her flower beds.

Other club members have started heirloom tomatoes, dug up strawberry plants SEmD more than 200 SEmD started dahlias in milk cartons and raided their borders for hostas, native plants and grasses.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to get plants that have proven to do well in our area and talk to gardeners who grow them,” said Jean Harrington, a PT Garden Club member who is handling publicity for the sale.

Harrington advises people to arrive early SEmD even with the large number of plants being offered, because the room empties fast, she said.

Proceeds support the club’s scholarship programs and civic projects, including maintaining the Chetzemoka butterfly garden and donating landscaping material and labor for new Habitat for Humanity homes.

For more information about the plant sale, call Harrington at 360-385-1504.


Port Townsend/Jefferson County Reporter-Columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at 360-379-5688 or jjackson@olypen.com.

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