Potato Time

You’ll hear conflicting opinions from old-timers concerning potato planting time.

“Plant potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day and they’ll all rot in the ground or have their tops frosted!”

“Always plant potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day!”

Well, if my cousin thinks it’s wise to plant corn on St. Patrick’s Day (at least a month early), I can’t hide behind my calendar.

It’s time to plant.  So, as mentioned in a previous post, I hammered in stakes and defined a 4′ wide bed with baler twine.  Here’s a shot of the bed:

I also cut and cured my potatoes in the basement.  I did this two different ways.  I simply cut some and placed them in a cardboard box, others I spread on a shelf in the basement and covered them with newspaper.  Here are the pontiacs as I weighed and cut them.  Anything over 4 ounces was cut in half, over 7.5 ounces was cut twice.  Make sure there are still two eyes on anything you cut.

Here they are two weeks later, ready to plant:

The cut and cure concept is not necessary, it’s just something you can do.  Just like the planting time above, ask any two gardeners about cutting and they’ll tell you two different answers.  Curing is the same.  We cut but did not cure last year’s potatoes and they did fine.  My sister didn’t cut anything and her potatoes will be fine.  I piled some in a box and they sprouted perfectly.  I sprouted some on a shelf and they sprouted perfectly.  The potato is very forgiving.  Garden as desired.

We are big fans of “How to grow more vegetables than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine“.  It is a book on biointensive gardening that we have had a lot of success with and was a gift from my sister years ago.  I have never grown potatoes using their method so I’m kind of taking a chance.

The basic idea is, you plant to the minimum spacing in hexagons making a pattern that shades out the weeds.  I have an easier time visualizing equilateral triangles but you get the idea.

Here is how it looks as we were planting using a 9″ spacing.  I have used various triangle templates when making holes to plant our garden but when making rows for my potatoes, good enough seemed good enough.  The rows aren’t as precise as they could be but the green stuff will grow anyway.

We have always planted straight rows of potatoes and hilled the rows.  This time we’ll just shovel on manure or pile on straw across the entire 4′ wide row, being careful not to knock down the tops.  I hope this works.

As you can see, we aren’t digging the potatoes in.  We are placing them on top of worked ground.  Then we cover them with a few inches of composted horse manure.  Most people with horses have horse manure to spare.

Here is the finished row.  We got tired of constantly shoveling manure so we broke up the monotony by shoveling sawdust for our path.  The sawdust makes a good weed barrier and rots quickly.

 As the potatoes come up we will continue to maintain the bed.  Look for updates as they grow.

 Sister added straw to the top of the row but I’m chosing not to.  The dark surface of the horse manure should warm the potatoes in case it chills.  I may regret the decision.  Garden as you go, take notes, do better next time.

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