Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Planting

Cute little fingerlings
Valentine's Day, the day for love. Going out for romantic dinners, wine, candles...right?

Well, maybe for some, and if you had a Valentine's day like that, wow! Good for you. Me? What did I do for Valentine's Day? Well, I planted my potatoes.

I have been wanting to get this done for a few weeks now... so my Valentine's day gift to my husband will have to wait for a few months 'til I harvest.

Potatoes are a fun thing to plant in the garden. The part we eat is actually a specialized stem. If you look at a potato, you will see the "eyes" which are where the shoots will form, the "eye brow" is actually a leaf scar. Anyway, it is from each of these eyes where a new shoot will form. The potato part will form under ground along the main shoot. So as the plant grows, you want to keep covering it to promote potato formation.

OK, so now you're a potato professor, let's go on.

Usually, I purchase seed potatoes from the nursery or feed store, but this year I just purchased a bag of organic fingerlings from the grocery store. I liked the fact that there were purple, gold and red in the bag together. Also, I prefer to just plant whole small potatoes instead of cutting up bigger spuds and planting only eyes.

I purchased my potatoes, put the bag in a dark, cool place for a few weeks and waited until they started sprouting. Then I knew  they were ready to plant.

Normally I just plant  potatoes in a bed like any other crop, plant the seeds and cover with soil. But this year I wanted to try planting in straw. Now I do not have straw but I do have lots of hay. So that is what I used.

Loosen the soil by hoeing.

I first had to prepare my bed, so I hoed and loosened up the soil that was in the bottom of the garden box.

Potatoes like a soil rich in compost, and I do have that also!

I amended the bed with composted cow manure and Epsom salt.
sprinkle some Epsom salt and work into the soil

Epsom salt adds Magnesium to the soil. I believe magnesium is low in most soils, so I almost always add it when planting.

When ever I add amendments to a garden bed I hoe it in evenly through out the bed, then before planting I rake the bed out and remove any rocks, sticks or just anything big.

Next the planting! Just space potatoes evenly in the bed.

Cover with straw, water and wait til they sprout!
As the tops grow up, they should be covered to promote the production of baby potatoes.

rake the soil smooth and level

space the potatoes in the bed
cover the potatoes with straw or hay and water
I also planted a bed in the traditional method as an experiment, I will keep you up to date to see which method works best.

Happy Gardening!

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