Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rootin' 'Round the Tater Patch

It's time to plant potatoes in our zone, but we're ahead of the game.  Those gnarly sprouted potatoes that I planted two months ago during an unusually temperate March, are going strong.  Prior to the last snow fall, Tim and I covered them with salvaged roof panels from a friend's commercial greenhouse, and when the snow melted, we just propped the panels up for ventilation and left them there.  Voila' ~ Tater Greenhouse.

They are now ready to be hilled.  Now, the drawback to my tidy little tater patch at the edge of the walk is that there is NOwhere to put dirt.  Last year, we planted the potatoes, and when it came time to hill them we brought in a loader full of dirt.  And another.  And another.  There was no way we were going through that again.  The tater patch has been tilled and prepared, and was a good 12 inches higher than the railroad ties containing it, but luckily not eroding.  I had to come up with a plan to move the dirt.  I began by digging a trench to plant the second row carefully shoveling it down each side of the existing row, hilling up two thirds of each plant as I went. 

That seemed to be going well, so I paused to cut the larger seed potatoes.  You need to leave two eyes per section, then leave your cut pieces out in the sun and wind for a few hours to dry out and sort of scab over before planting.

When I had the first row laid out, I began digging the third row, using the soil to fill the second row and leaving the extra in between for future hilling.

When I was done I had one hilled row, and two shallow trenches planted with potatoes.  When the first row is ready for it's second hilling in a few weeks, I can pull dirt from the ridge over into the hill.  When the other two rows are ready to be hilled, I can dig my way in from each end using the ridged soil to in between the rows to cover the plants protecting the roots from the sun.  Extra seed potatoes went into large pots on the patio which I had great luck with last year. 

Next year, I will rotate my plantings and put summer squash and cucumbers in this area.  Then I will be faced with the challenge of hilling potatoes in a raised bed!

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