Sunday, May 23, 2010

Potato Planting

Local wisdom supports planting potatoes when the dandelions bloom. Not to be fooled by the flowers near the base of the house, I waited for the dandelions to bloom out near the garden. Year after year my potatoes suffered from cold wet soil. Cut potatoes always rotted as did a significant number of whole seed. There had to be a better way. This year my seed potatoes arrived on the first of May after the dandelions had flowered. The potato eyes were tight and the flesh was solid. The picture shows their condition after two weeks in the living room. Indirect sunlight and relative warmth brought the potatoes to life. Mid May is a better time for planting here in zone 4. The cut potatoes were given an extra week indoors to heal their wounds.

A new planting area is under preparation near the start of the wilderness. Removing the sod and some of the stones worked well here for potatoes last year. Twenty-four hills of potatoes now occupy some of this new garden. A molasses water application was the only addition to the soil.

Peas follow potatoes in our crop rotation scheme. Despite my efforts to harvest every potato some always are left behind. This forgotten potato selected its time to grow. We will see if the last frost has already happened. The long range weather forecast indicates that this potato should be safe from frost. Is there a reason why all of my potatoes cannot be planted this way? If I leave some of this year's plants undisturbed until I have prepared next years planting area, then plant potatoes the same day that they are dug what will happen? The potato in this picture had such an experience and it is doing fine. Perhaps a dozen hills planted this way would be a fair test. Check back next year and see how it worked.

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