I've had a few bags of sprouting taters waiting for the right day to get to plant them. The original plan was to plant them on St Patrick's Day like Grandpa used to; that was not in the cards with all this wet weather we've been having! (That is a bit early for our region nowadays anyway. Handsome hopes to get his planted on Good Friday.) It has rained a couple days and then dried off for one or 2 days. Then it rains again.
Finally there was a break in the weather for almost a week! And the wind dried it out enough that I could atleast dig holes and get the fertilizer underneath the plants. It was still a bit wet underneath, about 3 inches down. I wouldn't want to try and do real yard work yet, the yard would still rut up.
My back pain and overall strength have been improving steadily over the past couple years. Last year, I couldn't work more than an hour at a time in the garden, regardless of the task. I wasn't strong enough to keep going and my back would just scream. I would also be "down" the following day to recover. If you ever want to realize how far you've come, take a glance back to see what you were doing the year before. It will remind you that you can do whatever you set your mind to; even if you're impatient and want it now.
Yesterday was a blustery day but it was 68 degrees!!!! I was determined to get some of these taters planted. Sadly, one bag was too far gone and they made it into the compost pile instead. I had a 5 pound bag of russets that I cut up that gave me quite a few starts. Then there was the 10 lb bag of mixed baby taters that were all sprouting. I sorted through those and still have a few handfuls of those left to plant. Overall, I was able to get almost 100 sets planted in about 3 hours or so. It was so satisfying. I worked until I kept thinking that I wasn't going to be able to move today; but I can still move today!!
If there is anything I've learned the past couple years with my gardening is to be more aggressive with fertilization. I grow most things as organically as possible. I don't pull out the chemicals unless I absolutely have to in order to save a crop; this pertains to fertilizing as well. I use items that I've either raised or can find around home to fertilize with.
I have a big pile of aged cow manure at my disposal and that helps tremendously. It is over 10 years old and alot of the actual fertility has leached out over time. It is fantastic compost and planting medium at this point. I add it all around the garden and use it quite copiously every spring for seeding and transplants. If you can find a source of some type of animal manure and either allow it to age, add it to your compost pile OR even add it to your garden in the fall while the manure is still "hot"; do it!
Last year, I perfected a fertilizing technique for the tomato plants that I will be repeating this year. Dig below where the plant will set atleast a few inches, throw in an egg, a tablespoon of pickling (or hydrated) lime and a tablespoon of epsom salt. Then add in a hand trowel full of organic fertilizer**. (This Espoma is my favorite. One bag will last an entire season.) Be sure to crack the egg before adding soil ontop of the concoction. Add a couple inches of soil or compost ontop of the mixture and then plant your transplant ontop of it.
No-Diggy Taters: My potato planting technique is a bit different from what's recommended. I don't like having to dig deep for potatoes when I harvest them. I always end up sticking the potato fork through them and it's frustrating. I want to be able to scratch the mulch back and literally pluck the potatoes from the soil. Occasionally, there is a rogue tater that runs off further into the earth, but I can usually scratch it out with my fingers.
Potatoes and peppers are closely related to tomatoes so my thought process was do something similar for them. I did not have pickling lime on hand and wasn't fond of hunting down the epsom salt yesterday so each potato start got an antacid tablet in each hole to account for the magnesium and calcium. I also did not add an entire trowel of fertilizer as potatoes aren't as heavy of feeders as tomatoes so I only used half a trowel.
After the fertilizer installment, I back filled the holes to the original soil level with compost. Then I placed each potato set into the compost and covered each one up with another shovel full of compost. Once the potatoes start to stick through the tops of their piles, they will be covered with mulch to keep the weeds out and allow the potatoes to grow at soil level without turning green. I use the used bedding from the chicken coop and bottle calves for the mulch. There's a little bit of oomph in the bedding from their poo and pee but it will wash away quickly with all this rain; that will just leave the pine chips behind.
Once the potatoes grow up and their stems die back this summer, I will be able to pull the mulch aside and gather the potatoes off the top of the soil. No-Diggy. Then I will scoot the mulch back together and the spot will be ready to replant with something else. No tilling to prepare for the next crop.
Since becoming a proponent of the no-dig gardening movement; I've seen the soil in my garden change. Flat black dirt surrounds my home and while the conventional farmers use all their tillage and chemicals on their acreage, my little spot of dirt has become overrun with worms and soil tilth that I wouldn't find in the crop field 100 feet away.
Anyway, if any of these ideas sound good to you, give them a try!
What are you planting in your area right now?
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