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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Final Potato Harvest!

So I have managed to get all my potatoes dug up, take a look:

These particular ones are "German Butterball" they are an heirloom variety, and I do have to say that I really did prefer them to the ones that we planted from our winter sprouters. Also I liked them more from the "local" seed potatoes as the heirlooms produced much more as you can see in the vid. Now I am going to walk you through my "experiment" process with this again. For those of you who want to know about it.

This is what we had started with a, about one inch layer of composted goat manure on some cleared ground. The area was about 5ftX10ft. We planted first our "over winter sprouters" in the first "row" (if you want to call it that). That was a mix of russets and fingerling potatoes that we bought over the winter from both of the discount grocery stores we shop at.

Then we both ordered the Butterball seed potatoes and bought some local seed potatoes as we didn't know how well any of them would produce. Also as I have never grown potatoes before it was a trial in many ways for me. I now understand why I have heard people say that "anyone can grow potatoes". They are very simple to grow and I barely watered them

I hope you can see what's in this image, it's one of the "sprouter" potatoes coming out of the ground. Now I learned that it takes quite some time for them to "get moving", so if you have never grown potatoes; don't worry they'll come up.

Here is where we started putting straw down to cover the base of the plants. I waited for them to produce a good amount of leaves before I started doing this, as I did not want to smother the plant.

This is after I stopped layering the straw over the base of the plants, the potatoes made such a nice "mini forest" at this point. They were also very lush and I still was not watering them at this point. I only watered them once we started getting a week or more without rain.

I am wondering to some extent if I had watered more would the potatoes have gotten bigger? Also all around the "pile" Lamb's quarter started growing, so we had some extra food growing. Yeah for Nature's bounty!

This is from my first harvest in the "pile" as you can see the ground is a lovely dark color under the straw. The straw right before the ground level has turned black and is "slimy" to an extent. A good "earthy" smell started coming up when I was digging through this.

I will say digging up potatoes is like going on a treasure hunt... you can see:

These were from my first harvest, and it is all we got from the store seed potatoes and the sprouters. Now, this does show that over wintered sprouters can be grown, they might not grow as much as "seed" potatoes; but some will produce. You can also see we got some russets and some golds.

That was about 5 Cups worth of potatoes we got in the first "half" of the "pile".

Of Course these are from the second half off my "pile", as you saw in the vid. I am very happy with how well the Butterball's did. I will be buying them again next year, I am thinking of keeping an eye out for winter sprouters again so we have some early potatoes. I am also planning on watering more regularly next year and see if they get bigger due to it.

I also learned that a thick layer of straw will help your topsoil, as it is really making the ground under where my "pile" was a nice and pretty section of dirt. We are going to apply this knowledge to the rest of my current garden space and our future large garden space. The plan when the "cleared" area gets the downed trees cut up and the brush removed we will cover the future garden space with either straw or hay.

Then we will leave it until the following spring, and it should get nice and dark below the straw from the local earth "movers" working their way through it. Also the fungus's that grow beneath the top layer. It is an interesting process to watch, the straw frost drops any seed it had and then we get grass growing. A bit of water and mushrooms grow, bit more water and mold will start forming in mats.

Insects start moving in making little paths in the straw to let more air and water pass. Earthworms start chewing up the lower bits of the straw leaving behind casings. Eventually all this together will make it into compost. It's almost like making your own leaf mold to some extent. I can't wait till I check out what has happened to it by next spring!

That's it for now,

Be Well, Be Safe and Blessed Be...

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