Tuesday, June 3, 2014
My dictionary does not list the word chitting as anything let alone a process for pre-sprouting seed potatoes. The old Ronninger catalog used the word and so will I. These potatoes were delivered here in mid May as ordered. Their condition was excellent upon arrival here with no growth showing at the eyes. Old inverted plastic nursery trays were placed about the living room and the hallway where indirect sunlight could find the potatoes. Potatoes were carefully placed on the trays with potential growth spots pointed upward. A combination of warm air and generous light begins the growing cycle for potatoes.
Purple Viking has long been a favored variety here. Their skins are colored pink and purple in a swirling spotted pattern that brings back images from the 1970's. Each potato is uniquely marked and digging them is like a treasure hunt. Clear white colored flesh is tasty so this spud is an all around winner.
My history with cutting seed potatoes has been dismal. Placed in soil that remains cold encourages rot. My carefully cut potatoes frequently never grow. Allowing the cut pieces a week to skin over before planting did not improve my record. My solution was to order single drops, potatoes sized so that they can be planted whole. The Potato Garden delivery exceeded expectations. Egg sized potatoes were delivered and nearly all have produced sprouts.
Canela is your basic white potato. Yields are good, storage is long and they taste like potatoes.
Local wisdom says that when the dandelions bloom it is time to plant your potatoes. Frost and dandelion flowers occur at the same time so we have been trying for a later planting time. When I lived in town and commuted here, I drove past the trailer tenanted by a farm's hired hand. Outside of his trailer, he grew chickens and potatoes in separate locations. In my opinion he always planted potatoes late but his plants were always excellent looking. Finally his method has registered here and we are now planting potatoes in June. Soil temperatures are warm and the danger of frost has passed.
Red Gold is another favored variety. Yellow flesh under a pink skin combine to produce an interesting appearance at harvest. Their overall color is orange and it is anything but subtle.
Our other unusual practice is the use of molasses as a soil amendment. Three quarters of a cup of molasses is mixed with four gallons of water. Allowed to brew overnight, the mixture is sprinkled on the surface of the soil after planting. A second application will follow first hilling. In theory, beneficial soil organisms multiply in response to the presence of molasses.
At this moment, seventy-two hills of potatoes are in the ground. We have enough open garden space for twenty-four more and they will be planted tomorrow. If this summer features regular rainfall, we could have an abundant harvest. We got rain today after a dry spell so we are off to a great start!