Post date: Aug 14, 2012 1:04:41 AM
We were able to grow potatoes this year because of the expanse that became our garden. We started by researching how to grow potatoes. Of course reading does not prepare one for the peculiarities of the crop. there are surprisingly few photos showing the different stages of growth. This made it extremely difficult to know when to take action.
We started with seed potatoes we got from our local garden store. We placed these in a sunny window to promote growth before cutting the larger potatoes and drying them for a couple days before planting. First we turned up the the soil around the planting area and dug a deep trench. The seed potatoes were tossed into the trenches and lightly dusted with loose soil.
Fairly quickly we started to see green leaves tinged with purple sprouting from the surface. When the greens became about ten inches tall it was time to re-bury the plant with half of the soil we had set aside. We repeated this process several times. Yes, your math is correct, we ran out of set-aside-soil and had to start borrowing from the rest of the garden. We capped off the ever growing mounds with a soaker hose for watering.
Then the potatoes started to flower. Who knew potatoes flowers were so beautiful?! We were treated to a variety of colors from all the types we are growing; French Fingerlings, Early Rose and Red Thumb Fingerling. Alas, the flowers marked the last bit of excitement the potatoes would provide. It marked the start of the waiting period. All our reading said to wait for the greens to die back before harvesting. Some sites mentioned that, although, it was ok to harvest a few new potatoes, our small fingerlings were not worth it.
The questions were continual, "Is this how they normally look?" or "Should we keep watering?" "Do they have some kind of virus or disease? Are they died back enough to harvest?" Well finally with lots of, um, patience we decided to harvest. Gently we pulled back layers. Carefully using our fingers we gently dusted off the remaining dirt to reveal small treasures. It was one of the funnest most rewarding experiences of the season.
Unfortunately, last year our whole garden was part of our lawn and therefore, we had to contend with grubs and other root eating worms who stuck around for the summer. The damage was not horrible, but digging up the soil and turning up grub after grub would have suggested it could have been terrible. It was still disheartening to see the damage and small pile of lost potatoes grow as we harvested.
We cannot wait to do potatoes again next year! Don't worry we are fully aware this is a crop that needs to be rotated and not to a spot that had tomatoes this year. The good news is that our garden has been established for a full year, so the grub population should be down to a minimum! 2013 here we come!