Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Planting potatoes

Note: I have no idea why this republished today... it was from a couple years ago and I updated it this morning with a link to the book.... hum..... oh well.. Carry on...

Planting potatoes is as easy as throwing them on the ground. I'm telling you I learned the easiest, sure fire way to get a good harvest of taters from Barb Doyen's spectacular book, The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden I'm sure there's lots of other ways, but lets face it. I have bad soil so I needed a way to grow stuff and improve the soil at the same time. This tater method does both. Here's how.

It's as easy as throwing taters on the ground.

Step 1: Pick your worst growing spot and give it a little bit of a rototill. My tiller creates two little, side by side dug out rows which makes the next step even easier.

Step 2: Get your seed taters and cut them so that each piece has a bit of a sprout, or an eye. I usually do this as I'm going along.

Step 3: Throw the cut pieces on the ground. Aim for your little rows. If you'd like, take your hoe and cover them a bit. But don't spend a lot of time on this - just enough to anchor them.

Step 4: Mulch deeply with fresh straw.

Tater Row - ready for action!

That's it. I'm not even kidding. As the summer goes along I add more fresh straw to make sure the taters are completely covered and just the grow-y end is sticking up.

I know. It sounds like there is no way it could work but it sure does. Really! For whatever reason the taters kind of dig themselves down into the ground. So when they are ready all you have to do is grab a pitch fork and its like the world's best Easter egg hunt (with digging). Not only will have you have spectacular friable soil, but you've killed the weeds, and when you are done digging - you've tilled up a place for next season. So get your barn litter and mulch again and voila! You're ready to plant in the spring.

And wow do you get great results! Remember all the taters we had last year? We also really loved how well canning potatoes worked. I know it sounds stupid, but wow its easy and fun to get all the prep work done so you can have a quick supper any time. We are going for tons of taters this year.

I planted two batches. The first was the long row of taters featured above. I created this row just below the Pasture Mix in the front of the property outside of the fence. I'm not particularily worried about varmints, but I want to fence that area anyway. So any malfeasance will just give me a reason to hurry up and get it done.

This first batch was from the taters we kept by from last year. They are a mix of Yukon Gold (best variety ever) and Red Pontiac. They had a ton of sprouts on them and very little rotten ones. I had two half-full five gallon buckets. They are planted really close in this row.

The second batch are all Yukon Gold - a 5 pound bag from the feed store. The taters were lovely but really they looked like they should just be peeled and cooked. They only have a few sprouts each - which I didn't feel was a great value considering the price. I planted these on the north east corner of the upper garden along the fenceline by the cow peas.

Cow peas - who knows what they are but I like cows and I like peas so I think we're good.

In other news - Wednesday was hot. Like summer hot. Like - I have the 'air conditioning' on hot. What's with that? Fortunately the creepy meats all seemed to have lived but I was nervous there for a while. Pigz are doing well. I think they realized that I'm "She who brings the yums." Great. Not I'll have to spend all summer convincing them that I'm not their mommy and I don't love them. Sheesh!

Happy Thursday everyone!

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12 comments:

Grandpa said...

I'm on blogcation. One of the things I do while on vacation is read your blog.

We grow sweet potatoes much the same way you grow your potatoes.

We've been experiencing the heat wave here too with people, including our two grandkids getting sick from stroke. But the rain is here now, so things are cooling down.

Happy Thursday pal, and all the best with those plantings.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

hey Grandpa! I figured you were away. I was JUST about ready to come looking for you tho! Thanks for saying hi! I can't grow a sweet potato to save my life.

Wow with the heat! Take care of those little ones. Poor Kai said it was the hottest day of her WHOLE life!

Sending very warmest wishes and my happiest hello's
:-)

Bri said...

Making me feel like a slacker! We don't have anything in the ground yet except peas and onions, and even those are un-spectacular. :)

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Ohiofarmgirl..I love Cowpeas, so I don't think you will be going wrong planting them..I'm sure your Taters :o) will make do with what they have going on...

NancyDe said...

That's my next project!

Danni said...

Hello, Chai Chai sent me. :-)
Great blog - I've peeked in over here a couple times, but today I love your potato planting tips. I got my taters in a few weeks ago and we immediately had days of torrential rains. This resulted in compacting the ground so hard, it dried like cement. I had to go through each of my 9 rows and, literally, crack the ground so the taters could sprout. Wondering whether your straw tip would work here in my beyond-wet Pacific Northwest environment, I've never heard this idea before but I like it a lot!
Take care -
danni in oregon

p.s. please send some warmth. we topped out at 48 degrees yesterday. :-(

Robin said...

I don't plant them exactly like you do...but, very similar. I plant them about 3" deep and then mulch them with straw as they grow. There is no way I'm doin all that hillin!!

Chai Chai said...

Last year my potatoes were so small, I'm going to give your method a try this year.

MaineFarmGirl said...

We have never had much luck with potatoes in the past. Now, I'm excited to try again!! Thanks for sharing this. :)

Heiko said...

Just make sure you keep them pigs out of your spud bed, sis! I'll be ready to harvest mine in about a month I reckon.

ckb said...

Cowpeas are black-eyed peas, more or less. Also might be called "field peas" down South.

I planted potatoes last year and hilled them up ("earthed them" according to Brit friends. This year I planted collard and mustard greens in that spot. I heard you should plant potatoes in the same place more than once every three years. Any experience with that?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hi everyone! Wow I'm glad they got this post back. Thanks Blogger!

You said it, Robin. I can never believe this method works - but it does every time.

CC - Small potatoes, huh? Hee hee hee I don't know why thats funny.

MFG - We can't grow anything in our bad soil but these taters. Its such a great way to improve the soil we're using it to break ground in all our new planting spots.

Heiko - we'd have ham and taters for sure! I'll be by in a month to help you dig yours.
;-)

Hi Ken! If you keep this up you'll have the best American Southern Food kitchen in all of France! I think the trend is toward garden rotation for everything - so I've heard to move them as well. Since we use them to break ground in new garden spots we'd just do it anyway.
ps I made another fresh neufchatel a couple weeks ago - it was splendid. When I have it as a snack, I always thank you and Walt for the inspiration.

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