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

Back to planting potatoes

Before all of this adorableness - and snow - happened I was planting potatoes...

Sprouted spud.

We had plenty of spuds left over from last year. The taters I couldn't get canned or frozen just happily sat in a bucket taking up space. Then they started to sprout.

Potatoes growing in a bucket.

You know how potatoes you get from the store just get mushy and weird if you don't use them? This is what happened to farm fresh potatoes. From last fall. They never got mushy or weird. They grew. In a bucket without any water or soil.  Isn't that amazing?

My potato planting method is extremely simple and can be found here. But I'll shorthand it for you - till up the spot for your potato patch - but don't put a lot of effort into it. Dig a small trench, throw potato parts on the ground, cover with dirt, then heavily mulch with clean straw. Then it's just a matter of sitting back and waiting - and keeping the chickens out of the straw.

Straw them in deeply.

I know that planting potatoes sounds like it should be more complicated but it's not. I found this method in a great gardening book by Barbara Doyen called The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden. This little book provides all kinds of terrific, common sense information in an easy and fun little book. She also provides farm-style recipes. It's just terrific. 

Anyway, I pile all the branches from trimming the fruit trees on top of the straw to keep the chickens from digging up the potatoes. Or whatever I can find. Once the plants take hold they will be fine. While they are growing I just keep piling on the clean straw to keep the weeds down and to keep the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight.

The best thing about this method is that you get potatoes... and fabulously improved, weed free soil when they are ready. When you dig up the potatoes you are basically tilling the soil - and then you can plant a fall crop of beans. Talk about a win! Tilled, weed free, clean soil and then the nitrogen gets "fixed" from the beans. Next year you are ready for tomatoes. Easy peasy.

Two things that worked really well last year were.... first, canning potatoes. I'm telling you this is the best thing going. No more of that senseless peeling - they are all ready to go in a jar. So easy. Next, freezing blanched potatoes in serving sized freezer bags. Now THIS is easy. Both make excellent fried potatoes. But I think I prefer the frozen ones for mashed potatoes. 

Look! They were really growing!

Today I'm hoping to get a few more rows of potatoes planted. I keep finding buckets of potatoes - all of them are sprouting... and none of them are weird and mushy.

Happy Friday everyone! Do you have your potatoes planted?

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Diana said...

I love the idea of this method and I'm trying it this year... but the dang burdock keeps pushing up through it and I'm about to tear my hair out (can't tear out the burdock, it's too strong) and the potatoes have sprouted and have tiny roots, but won't actually start growing! Arghh! I think I'll start another batch from a different source.

Anton said...

Our seed potatoes are scheduled to arrived via UPS today, can't wait to get them in the ground! Wish we had leftovers from last year, but alas the harvest was poor and all were eaten.

Vintage Maison said...

Still preparing the ground for my spuds - two weeks late so far! Anyway, our main problem here in France is Colorado beetle, or 'doryphores' in French. We usually pick them off every morning but they are so prolific if you miss a day or two. My neighbours all spray which can be bad if the blossom is out as the spray kills bees instantly. I like your straw method - might give it a go, although it will upset our traditional neighbours!

Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)

Unknown said...

I'm going to plant some next year. We finally enlarged our veggie garden, so we have more room. It's sad, in Idaho, to buy year old taters in the sotre. You can only find "fresh" ones, overpriced, at farmer's markets.... and most of them are a long drive to get to...

Wildcard said...

I planted most of my potatoes in pots this year and they are doing so so. I already pulled one and got two nice sized potatoes and a few tiny ones that didn't taste great. My one plant out in my "ninja" garden is doing really well. It looks healthy, at least.

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