The levee project gave me a brief recess Wednesday morning after the first truckload of dirt had been hauled over to the levee and the second load wasn’t due for delivery for a few hours. It looked like the soil in the beds had finally dried out enough to plant potatoes. A week ago a wheelbarrow load of compost from the bin was added to the potato bed, Chickity-doo-doo fertilizer was added and the soil was spaded over.
Since the soil had a lot of clods I used the little Earthquake power cultivator to break it up and prepare it for planting. I would have preferred to use a hoe but didn’t have the energy after already putting 5 yards of dirt into the levee repair. It looked like the earthworms had gone deeper into the soil to follow the compost that was spaded down so I don’t think it was an earthworm massacre.
I’m trying a different approach to growing potatoes this year. In the past I've planted the potatoes about 8 inches deep and added some mulch later in the season. This year I'm trying a hilling method with a few little twists. After the soil was broken up with the tiller I pulled soil to the center of the bed and also to the edge with a hoe. This made two trenches the length of the bed.
The potatoes were dusted with sulfur then set about 10 inches apart in each trench. Here Kennebec seed potatoes have been set in the front trench. The back trench was planted with Red Pontiac potatoes.
Once the seed potatoes were spaced evenly along the trench I planted each seed potato a few inches to either side of the trench in a stagger pattern, using the garden tool shown, which is like a short hoe. Using this tool a little soil was pulled to the side and the seed potato was set into the dirt.
Once the potatoes were planted soil was pulled from the ridges at the edge of the bed to cover the trench. That left the ridge of soil down the center. After the shoots are a few inches high I’ll pull soil from that center ridge over the shoots, making the first hill. I’ve got a large wheeled trash container full of shredded leaves. Those will be used to hill the potatoes a second time.
The same day I also planted the potato box that I built last winter. This is an experiment. The design is loosely adapted from the Henley potato box but the principle is essentially the same – some of the shoots can grow out through holes in the side of the box as the soil or mulch builds up inside. I set the box on the slope toward the pond and leveled it. About 4 inches of soil was added and two Red Pontiac potatoes were set on the soil.
Another row of car siding was put on the front of the box and a few inches of dirt was added to cover the potatoes. From here I’ll mostly add shredded leaves mixed with compost to fill the box.
The catfish are now actively feeding with the warmer weather. It looks like there’s a good mix of large and juvenile fish. They don’t know it but those free meals have a “catch”. . .