Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Adventures in Pototoes

This is my first time growing potatoes.  Hopefully it will be a rewarding first-time experience.  I decided on red-potatoes and sweet potatoes.  In our area, red potatoes are ready to start now.  The sweet potatoes, I have read, are a bit of a warmer season veggie so I should wait until June to start those.  That said, I have begun the red potato process and thought I would share with you my experience thus far.

I ordered a 2lb bag of Red Norland Potatoes from Henry Fields Nursery.  I am not plugging them by any means, but I have had good success with them so far with everything I have purchased from them.  I have purchased asparagus roots and blueberry plants and both came to me in great condition and both have been  successful in their growth for me. I selected Red Norland potatoes as I read that they produce compact plants which are good for smaller gardens, which is what I have.  I have also read not to use grocery store potatoes for growing as they are treated with a growth retardant. Also it is good to use certified seed potatoes that are meant for producing eyes on potatoes

When I got the bag there were about a dozen small potatoes in the bag with eyes started on each of them.  You are not supposed to place the entire potato in the ground with more than 2-3 eyes on a piece potato.  What you do is cut the potato so each cutting has about 2-3 eyes per cut.  Each eye will produce a plant.

After I cut the potatoes, I placed them back in the bag to for a few days to heal and form a scab over the cut area.   After that they are ready to be planted.

Today, I was finally able to get them in the ground.  We have had so much rain this week that I was unable to plant them sooner.

To plant potatoes, you first need to dig a trench about 8" - 12" deep.  You then place your potatoes with the eyes facing up about 10" apart"

You then cover your potatoes with about 2-3" of dirt (you don't back fill in the trench completely)

I ended up with 4 rows of about 5 potatoes per row.

(I am saving the other half of the bed for some sweet potatoes.)  As the potatoes start to grow.  You are supposed to do something called "hilling".  Which is after the plants are 8-10" tall, use a hoe and pile several inches of soil up around the stems. The prevents exposure to the sun which causes tubers to become green and inedible.

Hopefully, they will do well.  I am so excited to see what happens next!

The Blueberry Experiment

I am determined to salvage that blueberry branch that broke off from the plant that I ordered.  So here the following is what I ended up doing.  Hopefully it will not be in vain.

For those that don't remember from my past post, I had planted a bluecrop highbush about a month back only to find it battle damaged from small boys playing in the backyard:

What I ended up doing to the broken branch was take it inside and put it in a cup of water and put it in a window sill.  I have been surprised with how the buds have continued to grow and new buds have since formed.

So what I ended up doing is potting the cutting in peat moss.  I soaked the peat moss in water and then placed the moss in a pot.  I then put the branch in the peat moss and  covered the pot in a plastic wrap to create a sort of humid effect to help keep a warm moisture to aid in root generation.

I currently have the cutting in my window in my office and so far I am surprised with how much new growth it is producing.  Hopefully though by placing it in the peat moss it will give me some root so I can get it back out in the ground outside.  I will keep you informed of the progress or lack thereof.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Busy weekend

Oh my!  What a weekend I had.  We were supposed to have gone to Washington DC this weekend as I was registered to run in the Cherry Blossom 10-miler, but we have been going non-stop and decided to stay put this weekend.  That gave me that chance to work on the garden some.  As a result I got quite a bit done.

On Saturday I worked on weeding and tilling up some of the beds a bit.  Hard work for sure.  I had put down compost from my compost bin in the fall, and so the soil is very rich and ready to go for the summer.  I will add compost throughout the year as needed by just laying some on top and turning it in a bit.  Anyway, I was able to weed around the garlic that is growing nicely as well as the chive and oregano.  Also I cut back the dead from my asparagus and weeded around it.  All in all quite pleased with how the beds cleaned up.

Here is the garlic that I planted in the fall:

While I was tilling up the beds, I decided to remove the strawberries that I had planted last year.  I realized that for my garden, planting strawberries was a bad idea.  I just don't have the room to support them.  Perhaps when we have more land I will have a separate area just for strawberries.  So for now I dug them up and decided to pot them, hoping that they will produce a few strawberries this summer in the pot.

And finally, for the end of Saturday, I planted a first phase of lettuce, some spinach, arugula, swiss chard and some cilantro.

All-in-all a productive first day.

For Sunday, (today) I first worked on getting my peppers into larger pots as they were just sitting in peat pellets.

After that I Matt and I worked on planting some flower seeds.  So now they are busy "incubating" So they will be ready to go for the summer. 

Matt counted them and we planted 80 flower seeds in all!  The above picture is my indoor set up.  This is our bedroom.  Our bedroom gets the best/most sun so this is where I start all my seedlings.  Mike made that little enclosed plexiglass box for me to help create a mini greenhouse for me to aid in germination. 

I also finished tilling up the rest of my beds. This bed I will be planting potatoes.  Which I will be putting red potatoes in the ground this week.

And finally, planted sugar snap peas, peas, snow peas, green beans, soy beans, parsley and transplanted the broccoli I started.

In hindsight, I am concerned that I should have held off on planting the broccoli outside, but if it doesn't take, I'll just start again with a direct sow in the ground.

Anyway, busy weekend indeed.  I am quite sore from all that work.  Getting old is no fun, but it was great to be outside and working in the dirt again.