Thursday, May 7, 2015

Potatoes on Purpose in a Gift of Dirt

I've never tried to grow potatoes before.  I've a had few survive the compost pile to make a pretty plant, but this is the first time I've ever had potatoes on purpose, so this is new and exciting territory for me.  

Tamara gave me some potatoes that she harvested last year, that were sprouting in their bag.  They looked sort of sad and desperate for some dirt and light.  Nothing motivates me into action like having something I know will die without my attention.   At the end of March, Jamie and I were loafing in the yard after an office work day, looking for something to entertain ourselves with while enjoying the snow free yard.  I remembered the wrinkly sad potatoes with their pale tentacles waiting patiently in a plastic bag, so Jamie quickly created a trench in one of the raised beds, we lined up the potatoes in the trench, and covered them with soil.  So easy!  Will that work? 

By the end of April, this is what they looked like.  Not only do they have nice deep-green leaves, which look somewhat like tomato plants, but we could see potatoes swelling up out of the soil.  Already?!  We were contemplating what to do about this, since I knew it wasn't good to let the potatoes be exposed to the sun, when a friend of mine gave me his garden dirt.  What a perfect gift!  

Since my friend is planning to move, he wanted to remove two raised bed gardens from his yard so he could plant grass.  He brought me a giant tub and two five gallon buckets filled with dirt, which are just he first load.  This isn't just any old dirt either, this dirt was created from peat moss, vermiculite, and compost.  It's a truly engineered soil (from and engineer, even), and it is light and fluffy like good potting soil.  It makes my dirt look like the weed infested clay that it is!  

We mounded the pretty dirt around the potato plants until just the leaves were poking out.  

We planted at least twelve potatoes, and I think we have eight plants now.  I wonder how many potatoes a person can get from eight plants in a small raised bed?  

To keep Mrs. Hall and June from digging up the new soil, we put tomato cages over the plants.  After just a few day, the plants are already nearly a foot taller than the top of the soil.  Luckily, the second load of gifted dirt has been delivered, so we can keep adding it to the bed, making more room for more potatoes.

Potatoes aren't the only cool think happening in the garden dirt.  There are also newly planted beet seeds.  I always think beet seeds look wrinkly and strange.  Don't you?  

In the small raised bed on the opposite side of the yard swing, there are parsnip seeds and beet seeds.  Also, a few turnips that sprouted from our first early planting effort that was sacrificed to bad chicken behavior.  As you can see, I must be alert when uncovering dirt that the chickens haven't had access to in a while.  They love to hunt earthworms in loose soil, so I can't turn my back for more than a few seconds.  Psst! Get out of here!

See the hoe laying on the ground?  It's laying there because as I was backing up to take a picture of the silly chickens in front of my newly planted bed, I stepped on the blade end of the hoe and had one of those cartoon moments, that the chickens always enjoy, when the handle reared up conked me on the head, hard.  Ouch!  Mrs. Hall knows who the silly one is. 

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