Monthly Archives: April 2013

Growing potatoes

Growing potatoes is very rewarding because, unlike most vegetables that provide garnish, potatoes actually provide meals, which makes them very important to any self-suffciency goal oriented gardener.

When planting potatoes, it is important to plant seed potatoes that have not been treated, like most store bought ones. We think its important to go for organic as well, and varieties that will suit your needs. If you plan to store them: plant good winter keepers! This year we are planting Yukon Golds (notoriously good keepers) and Desiree red potatoes, which do not keep as well, but are delicious. We got our seed potatoes from Peaceful Valley – 7 pounds of Yukon Gold and 3 pounds of Desiree. We plan to get 100 pounds of potatoes, since under good conditions 1 pound yields 10!

Store potatoes around 40 degrees to prevent sprouting, and, conversely, if you desire to “green” them to speed up the process, take them into a warmer place to sprout the eyes a week or two before planting. Make sure to always keep potatoes out of direct sunlight. When you are getting ready to plant, a week or so prior, cut the potatoes into a few pieces at least 2 oz each, making sure each one contains 1-2 eyes. If the potatoes are rather small, its better to keep them whole. Leave the cut pieces for a few days in the storage container so the cuts can heal – this decreases the chances of rotting once planted.

The potato piece with the eye becomes the root base of the potato plant, as the plant grows, it will form potatoes along the stem, however, the potatoes turn green and become toxic when exposed to sunlight. This phenomenon is a natural defense mechanism for potatoes and other members of the nightshade family, to prevent the uncovered fruit from being eaten. The green color is from chlorophyl and is harmless, READ MORE… >

In the garden: May

Last week we have passed the date of the last frost here in Eastern PA. This means we are in Week 1 of the post-frost growing season.
Lots have happened over the last few weeks and we cant wait to share it all!
So – what is growing in the garden this week?

Peas look great so far!


Ducklings in the bathtub!

Here is a fun video we wanted to share of our baby ducklings taking one of their first baths in our bathtub.

They have grown up so much since then already – they live outside now and have their own little pool. I will post some images/videos of their new habitat as soon as it stops raining outside.

Garden Map

When planning your garden out, i find, it is incredibly helpful to have two things: garden map and planting schedule to go with the map.
When approaching the task of garden mapping, a few things must be considered:

1. Crop rotation. Never plant the same type of plant in the same location consecutively – always allow for at least two grow seasons between repeated plantings – this is the first and vital step to preventing repeated disease and pest problems.

2. Bio-diversity. Mixing up your plants ensures less pest and disease problems, as well as provides a richer soil makeup, as differet plants work the soil differently. Patches work better for this purpose than rows. This also makes your garden look more natural!

3. Compatibility planting. When going for the bio-diversity, it’s a great idea to take compatibly planting into account and ensure that plants that grow best together are planted next to each other and plants that do not – far away (3 feet at least). There are many charts available for usage and reference.

4. Light/Drainage preferences. Make sure you know the best location for your plants in the garden, in regards to the amount of light and amount of drainage they prefer. Consider hills and raised beds for plants that require better drainage, planting behind taller plants for plants that need shadowing and/or row covers, etc.

5. Layering and space utilization. It is also a great idea to grow plants that can provide layered structure on the root, as well as, above ground level – alternating deep and shallow rooted plants – as well as taller and shorter –  this utilizes the READ MORE… >

2 weeks before last frost

At two weeks before last frost we should be doing second plantings of lettuce and spinach, yet, with the colder weather and lack of rain we have been having, we have seen no sprouting as of yet, so we have postponed second plantings for another week.

The only seed planting we will be doing this weekend is the first sunflowers. They can be staggered every 5-6 weeks to ensure maximum resiliency to pests and continuos bloom and yield. We will planting Renee’d Garden Heirloom Titan this year. Also, we are planning to cover crop the area of the garden that will not be getting used for the next 1-2 months.

We will be cutting up potatoes, dividing up the eyes  – to let them dry up  for about a week before planting (this is ton ensure that the cut heals and there is less chance of rotting int he ground). Cutting into pieces containing 2-3 eyes, about 1-2 ounces each, and storing them in a dark, cool place until the time is right – currently planning to plant them in 17/18th of April.

You can also “green” the potatoes by placing them at room temperature and indirect sunlight for the eyes to sprout. However, if the sprouts get too long (more than 1-2″) they might be difficult to handle and break off during planting.

We got 7 lb Organic Yukon Gold and 3 lb Organic Red Desiree potatoes from Peaceful Valley . In good conditions, 1 lb of potatoes shoud yield 10 lbs, so the plan is to get 100 lbs out of our 10 lb planted. Desiree would have to be eaten first, and Yukon Gold, being a great winter keeper, kept over winter.

We also have plans to transplant our berry bushes into their outdoor containers, since they have had adequate time to adjust after shipping and can be moved outside, given the weather stays mild and does not revert to freezing.