The Potato Box

Bountiful potato crops always eluded me in previous gardens, but I decided to try again this year in a raised bed. I ordered Carola variety seed potatoes from the Seed Savers Exchange and planted them in April. The vines grew fast. Potato vines are supposed to be buried as they grow, so that only a few inches stick out of the soil at a time. They are expected to produce potatoes on all the buried parts. So about two weeks ago, the plants got tall enough to start the burying process (called “hilling”). I was unprepared, surprised they grew so quickly. I was finally able to source materials, so today I built two 8″ high cedar extensions to contain the extra soil, installed them, and filled them with garden soil and compost. Already, they are so tall that I had to bury 16 inches of the plants! Hopefully I am not too late. I can almost taste these potatoes.

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Resolutions For A New Year

This farm originated with a garden. A craving for the rich taste and the warm memories bound to the tomatoes that my late grandpa used to grow was powerful enough to move me to try growing a seed. The power of that seed was enough to propel me to grow a whole garden of seeds. That garden led to another garden, and that one to yet another. When I didn’t have my own land, I rented space in a community garden. When even community space was unavailable, I filled my balcony with pots of soil. But in an ironic twist, when I finally gained some real land of my own, I found myself much too busy for a garden. Between full time off-farm work with a new longer commute and time spent tending the land, restoring over-farmed soils, caring for animals, and planting trees, there hasn’t been enough of me left over to grow a garden. But our soil is well on a path to healing itself, and we’ve already planted over 1300 trees. It’s time to make time for a garden again!

There are still trees to plant and chores to do, and the commute continues; so it can’t be a fussy garden, or a huge one. In an attempt to maximize the efficiency of my gardening time, I plan to build four raised beds this winter. I’ve never had a raised bed before, but I’m told that they reduce gardening time due to their perfectly mixed, weed-free soil and excellent drainage. I’ll need to have these beds totally done before spring arrives, because spring will require its own set of tasks. But I’ve become a fairly skilled builder, and I think I can tackle this project in the time allotted.

I’m trying another new thing for this garden. I selected all seed varieties that claim to be easy to grow and high yielding. In the past, I’ve gravitated towards specialty heirloom types that have amazing flavor and beautiful colors. These types of plants are very fun to grow, but many of them can be fussy and low yielding. While I look forward to growing those special vegetables again sometime in the future, this year I’m looking for some easy wins. Harvest early. Harvest often. Eat. This year’s seed choices are still heirlooms, but they’ve been selected for productivity over novelty. I’m hoping to grow enough bounty to fill my pantry shelves with canned goods for the winter.

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