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Potatoes!

By Lauren

So this year I turned the entirety of my mound garden from last year to the potato patch this year.  This created a bit better than double the space than we had from last year and I hoped that it would provide enough potatoes for at least 3 families.

Last year I planted intensively and operated on the false notion that the more potatoes that I planted the more potatoes I would yield.  Well folks, when you crowd plants they tend to produce less! A lesson that I learned, yet we still had a fantastic yield, supplying both my family and Trista’s.  This year however, because we keep our produce in the root cellar that my dad built, that is located at my sisters house, I wanted to make sure there was enough spuds for her family as well. So we expanded the patch, AND planted differently. I am a fan of companion planting and biointensive planting which in my opinion is the most effective in raised beds and optimizes space.  It also helps with soil health. But after the back breaking task of digging the potatoes last year I decided to plant in rows so that we could us an old horse drawn potato digger.  I lack the horse in this equation but my trusty four wheeled red beast was up to the task.

SO, I planted potatoes at least a 12-18 inches apart and also gave atleast 18 inches between rows! Well, it worked! Last year as potatoes were ready we ate 1/3 of the patch through the summer, this year we did not even finish one row! I think I planted about 7 rows. I planted a  Cheiften, a Purple Russian and a Russet.

I had plans of putting a deep straw mulch down to help with weeds, and I did get that done with my beans to great success. But the poor potato patch was neglected in my rush to get ready for a trip to Denmark to visit family. I settled with the fact they were planted.

My most enthusiastic helper sorting spuds by colour to be planted from our leftover potatoes.

My most enthusiastic helper sorting spuds by colour to be planted from our leftover potatoes.

My mantra remains “Next Year”.

I had also planed to get those potatoes out of the root cellar before May so that they could hit the soil growing but alas, it came time to plant and I remembered that I should have had them out three weeks ago.  Next year…

Potatoes planted.

Potatoes planted.

Same goes for hilling the potatoes.  Trista and I swear like sailors every time we harvest at all the sunburnt potatoes we toss. I was thinking we could save them for seed potatoes but they were already starting to go bad before we even got them to the root cellar.  I am not a perfect gardener, not even a really good gardener.  The amount of weeds in my garden is staggering and sends many in to a tizzy when they walk through it with me, but I don’t worry about it.  If I did, I would probably quit growing things because of the massive amount of things I don’t get done.  I choose to focus on what I do get done and do my best to do better next year. I know that I could lighten my load exponentially by spraying round-up on the quack grass and weeds, but I can’t do it.  I would rather look on a forest of weeds than give in.  I choose to keep my garden and the food it produces free of chemicals. I have even stopped using commercial fertilizer, focusing instead on learning about soil health and growing really healthy soil. Something that is not easily done if you use a spray like round-up as it kills the micro organisms that are the foundation of healthy soil. So that is is my soap box for today.  Despite the lack of perfection in my garden it still produces a wonderful bounty for my family and friends. I feel such great satisfaction and gratitude that I am able to feed my family by my own hands.

In my absence from the garden between June and July (only the worst time to leave) I have to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to my dad, who stayed at my house and watered every day and kept things growing. Thank you, Dad. The garden would have been a shrivelled barren patch had you not kept an eye on things.

We had great heat this year most of the time we were gone, end of June and beginning of July, and the potatoes were flourishing. When I got home from our vacation, the garden was at the hight of the season.

My first big harvest from the garden. Purple beans, potatoes (red and purple) parsley, basil and a few onions.

My first big harvest from the garden. Purple beans, potatoes (red and purple) parsley, basil and a few onions.

One Hill.

One Hill.

This wondrous machine made short work of the digging.

This wondrous machine made short work of the digging.

When done properly the potatoes just spill out of the ground and await us to come pick them up.

When done properly the potatoes just spill out of the ground and await us to come pick them up.

This goofy mutt dug a fair few potatoes out for us.

This goofy mutt dug a fair few potatoes out for us.

I am excited for next year, I am planning a lot more flowers and a new approach in regards to controlling the quack grass. I am hoping to smother it with black plastic.  Burn it first then mulch heavily with wood chips.  The chips can then after a few years be put onto the garden.  I am not expecting miracles but a little bit more manageable would be nice.

 

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