Friday, June 19, 2015

Potato Planting

It's mid-June, and I'm feeling like I'm a bit behind schedule with planting out my potatoes.  They seem happy enough though--they've been chitting away on the porch for six weeks now, and have very healthy, sturdy shoots started.  But, it is time to put them in to their growing containers because, eventually, they will stop looking so cheerful, wither up, and die.  That would be a very sad waste of a good seed potato.

So, it was out to the backyard to set up their growing location for this season.  They did very well last summer placed along the back fence, so I thought that location would work well for them again this year.  A couple of modifications were in order, though.  First, leaving a "gap" between the compost area and the potato bins.  This was needed because I have plans to add a second compost compartment (made from pallets) this summer.  Second, a layer of weed suppressant cloth.  Last summer, it was incredibly tedious trying to weed whip around each bin...ugh.  Eventually, I just ignored the weeds and it got to be quite a jungle.  So this year, an attempt to keep the weeds from growing quite so exuberantly around the bins.  It likely won't work entirely, but it should help a lot!
Don't they look nice, all in a row?  Well...perhaps you don't share my love of old, battered trash bins repurposed as potato containers, but I think they look pretty smart.

Then, it was simply a matter of layering in the materials:
Delightful "muck", courtesy of the Bunny Barn residents.

Next, a layer of compost with a handful of organic root crop fertilizer.
Add seed potatoes, "eyes upwards".
Add label--before I forgot which variety it was! Potatoes look very similar...
Add another layer of compost and "muck", and continue to the next bin.
After an hour's work, all five varieties are planted and ready to take off, growing into a fine and lovely crop.  I've got one bin each of Augusta, Magic Molly, Peter Wilcox, French Fingerling and Red Pontiac.  I haven't tried any of them before, so I'm excited to see how they do with our Wisconsin summer weather.  As it was forecast to rain, I didn't worry about watering them in but if you opt to try growing potatoes in containers, giving them a good drink to settle them into place isn't a bad idea.  They'll need periodic watering throughout the growing season, too, particularly in times of hot dry weather.  Keep an eye out for Colorado potato beetles, squish pests as needed, and with any luck, you'll be rewarded with a good crop come fall.

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