Auther Ray, On Old Time Ways – Holing Potatoes

Irish (white) potatoes being harvested from mulch

Auther Ray is a friend of mine, who I met on the Oklahoma Gardening Forum. He also belongs to Green Country Seed Savers and is a member of Homesteading Edu. You probably won’t ever see him in a video. Yet I have the pleasure of hearing from him, via e-mail, on a regular basis. Auther’s family arrived, first in Arkansas, over 160 years ago (1854). His grandfather moved the family to Oklahoma in 1930.

Old Timers Have Things to Teach Us.

Auther, himself could, no doubt, share things with future generations. I have throughly enjoyed hearing snippets of life from his parents’ and grandparents’ time. I’m going to post a brief e-mail exchange from November 2017. I believe you’ll find it interesting and the technique of “holing potatoes” may have some potential in your own lifestyle. I hope to try this in 2018! Note: Auther is writing about Irish potatoes, which are very different from sweet potatoes.

Correspondence on “Holing Potatoes.”

Irish Potatoes
Irish Potatoes

November 4, 2017


Have you ever heard of Holing up potatoes ? My father used to tell about how when he was a boy they would dig their potato crop and store them in a crib or in a shed to let them cure out awhile then later they would dig a large enough pit usually about knee deep and big enough around for ever how many potatoes they had. Then layer hay straw or grass about a foot deep in the bottom of the pit where they would pile the potatoes. When they had all the potatoes piled in the pit they would cover them with more grass/straw, a couple of foot deep and then cover this with dirt in to a pyramid type mound and pat the dirt smooth so that when it rained it would drain off and not set on the mound of potatoes. He said that the potatoes would last all winter and stayed in good condition. When ever they wanted potatoes they would go out to the mound and dig down to the potatoes and pick out as many as needed, there were nine children in the family so it took several to be able to go around. During WWII my father was a POW and escaped from German guards and hid in woods surrounding fields with large mounds along the ends of the field and lived off of the potatoes buried for safe keeping in the mounds until he was picked up by a British unit.

I just thought I would pass this along.

Holing Potatoes: Tried and Proven in Oklahoma and in Germany!

November 5, 2017


Auther, that is a fascinating account! I’ve heard something about doing sweet potatoes like that, in the deep South.  But, no, I hadn’t heard of holing Irish potatoes. I’m going to have to try this! Did your father grow up in Oklahoma?

“Holing” Sweet Potatoes Would be Experimental in Oklahoma

November 5, 2017


I’ve never heard of holing up sweet potatoes before. You may be able to do this where you live if your soil has some clay in it as it will pack down enough to turn rain off. No my father was raised south of Clarksville Arkansas as was my Grandpa Ray. My Ray ancestor came originally from North Carolina to Bradley Co. Ark. about 1854 and my great- grandpa was born there before moving up to the Clarksville area. My Grandpa Ray moved the family to Oklahoma about 1930. His aunt who moved over here years earlier had written him a letter telling about how so many people had left for California that farms were setting vacant and he could almost have his pick for 1/4 crop rent and it was hard to rent good land in Arkansas without giving as much as a 1/2 or 2/3’s crop rent which was share cropping. My Grandpa Ray used to tell about how his Dad would hole up Irish potatoes and turnips. He said that his Dad thought turnips were the greatest inventions that ever was.

So there you have it. This correspondence is rich with information, both in terms of technique and history.

An “Old/New Tip” from the Homestead,




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