N.W. Indiana Garden Potatoes "Plant Those Spuds!"
Cut Seed Potatoes
Planting Those Potatoes
I took a look in my almanac this morning and it was a prime day to plant my potatoes. I would normally have them in the ground by now but, it was just too cold. I was so excited to finally get to work in the garden. Not that it was a lot of work because I have spent most of the real work making my garden into a low maintenance situation. I didn't have to do much to get the job done.
Exposing The Underlying Soil To The Sun
Reds Are The Favorite At My House
I bought my potato seeds some time back and have been waiting to get them in the ground. I always get them at the same small nursery.The place is not fancy or large but it has been there for years. Most of the older folks around here buy their seed potatoes and onion sets at this place. I was not sure where to shop so I asked a local gardener and they sent me to that nursery. I was pleased the first year and this was my third year to return there to shop.
First thing I did this morning was cut up the whole potatoes and, put them in a sunny location to dry. It was pretty breezy so that helped quicken the drying process. My garden has a 6" to 8" layer of composted leaves and grass clippings on top of it from last fall. There is also all of the grass clippings and the compost pile from last year, tilled into the underlying soil. We tilled it all in early, last November. I also topped the soil with ashes from our fire-pit and the barbecue grills. We save those in an old garbage can close to where the grills live. Potatoes benefit from the addition of wood ashes to the soil. These were dusted on top before we did the tilling.
Try A Fresh Potato Salad
The 4th of July would not be complete without a dish of potato salad to add delight and color to your dinner fare. There are so many ways to make this dish the possibilities are endless. I found a HubPage written by Bob Ewing that has a very good recipe for a Red Potato Salad. This is sure to make you want to plant those spuds again next year.
How To Make Potato Salad
Filling The Trench With A Layer Of Straw
Building My Potato Bed
Not too much to do here as, the work was done the past few years. I got a hoe out and pulled the layer of compost mixture off the soil. That put me down to about 6" above the garden floor. I let the sun heat the soil for a good part of the day. It is calling for rain in the forecast tonight so I wanted to get the maximum benefit out of what Mother Nature was doing. Late in the afternoon I put a 3" layer of straw on the bottom of the trench. I let that set for a couple of hours to warm and dry in the sun.
Straw Costs or Find It Free?
I watch my neighborhood every Autumn to see who will be throwing a bale or two of straw to the trash after Halloween. Many of the people around here use the straw to decorate with pumpkins and scarecrows. I make sure to pick up what I need for my garden before the trash man gets there. This practice saves me about $15. and also I do not have to travel far to find it. There is usually a bale within walking distance of my yard. My neighbors are nice when I ask to take it and, the straw has an extra winter to decompose before I use it. I like that because straw breaks down pretty slow.
Seed Potatoes on a 3" Bed Of Straw
The Fork Shows How High Off The Ground The Bed Actually Is
Cover The Seed Potatoes With Straw
I made sure to run my errands and get back to the house in time to lay the cut potatoes on top of the straw before the rain started. It was just a few minutes of work and I covered them over with about 3" to 4" of loose straw. I figure they will get a good start with rain headed this way. It is actually starting to rain now. I guess this worked out very good and I can rest assured that the warm days they are predicting for this weekend will give those spuds a great start.
My finished planting is about 12" off the ground so that will insure that the drainage is good for the new planting. I will continue to mulch the potatoes as they grow and I know there will be few, if any weeds. I do not have wooden sides around my beds as other gardeners often suggest but, I still have the same benefits. I believe I have an added benefit by not having any wooden sides. I can change the shape of the beds anytime I plant without having to stay within confines of a wooden frame. I also did not have to purchase the lumber it would take to make a frame, so that saved quite a sum of money.
This year I relocated the potato bed so I can use the old location for a different crop. The first year my soil was extremely poor and it did wonders to plant the spuds. They have a natural way of helping to break up clay soil. There were hardly any earthworms in the garden 3 years ago. Now we have plenty of worms and big fat night crawlers. I will try some other vegetables in the old potato beds this year.
More Information To Ponder
You can do additional reading and research on the potato and, how to grow it by clicking on this site offered by Purdue University Horticulture Department http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-62W.PDF This covers the potato in great detail. You will find all about other potato varieties and the like by checking this information out.
There is a great hub written by Bob Ewing on building raised beds. I think it is well worth looking over his information. There are also a number of other hubs on the same subject. Raised beds are the way to go and if you would like for them to be very beautiful making that wooden frame is worth the cost. I have not built frames because I keep changing the beds sizes and shapes and have not decided exactly when my garden will be ready to make permanent beds. I do have a wooden edge around the entire garden but, that is too devide it from the lawn and, define the garden as a seperate section in our yard.