It goes a little something like this – kick it!
I built my concrete block raised bed garden last fall with the intent of building another this spring and planting all kinds of stuff. As usual, my desires and interests exceeded the reality of my available time. Kids, both parents work, no day care – what was I thinking? After writing my mighty potato post, and – of course – living in Maine, I also had a big potato patch visions. I never bought the seed potatoes, and figured . . . next year.
Then an older lady I know came by, and said, “Here” and handed me bags of seed potatoes and other seedlings. It was past the ideal date that they should’ve been in the ground, and I had no ground prepped, but what was I to do? Quick! I dug into the ground, loosened up soil, stuck ’em in the ground, covered ’em up, and fenced the area to keep out the damn deer. This constituted my first attempt at backyard potato action.
I didn’t hill the plants as early as I should have. My father came over, and said, “You need to get those covered!” Then grabbed a shovel. I had a pile of aged cow shit and screened loam – AT THE OTHER END OF MY PROPERTY – so I had to mix that action and haul it in a wheelbarrow. I gave the plants some water here and there in the beginning, but other than that, and hilling them until I couldn’t fit in the space any more, I left them unattended.
If I’d had the time (and additional fencing on hand) I would have planted these things in rows, but alas . . . next year. Instead I just dug a circular area up about 12′ wide in diameter and planted the potatoes. The space grew in fast, and hills started hitting hills, but today . . . after work . . . I harvested a few of these bad boys.
I know some of you are old time potato people, and since I’m writing this anyway, spare me the Google time and tell me your technique for getting them out of the ground. I used a spade fork and gingerly dug deep into the pile and lifted the potatoes out. Needless to say, I speared a number of the big, juicy potatoes – doh! Then I just rolled up my sleeves and dug in with my hands, but that wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped. I’m thinking a pitch fork might be the best solution. What do YOU use?
Below is a picture of the potato patch with the part that I dug up. I think the soil could have been improved beyond the nitrogen components so that more of the lovin’ would’ve gone to the actual potato rather than the plant stalks. Ideas? I can say one thing, that soil would’ve been AWESOME if I was going fishing. The worms were plentiful and huge. The kids had fun with those.
– Ranger Man
BTW: Why didn’t the damn deer eat those sweet smelling home brew stout grains? What are they stupid!?
Anyone offer up potato storage solutions? Eventually, some day, I’d like to get to the stage where I could grow a good portion of the year’s potato belly intake. I’m thinking part of that would include buying a french fry cutter, processing the potatoes into fries, and freezing them. Beats buying them that way at the grocery store, and kids ALWAYS love french fries.