Monday 18 June 2012


Traditionally, potatoes haven't played a big part in our diet.
Both Kira and I grew up eating potatoes with most meals;
standard Canadian fare, cooked beyond recognition.
Potatoes are normally a cheap buy, but there are dangers associated with them.
Non-organic products are remarkably low in nutrition, and are heavily abused by chemicals due to the high rates of disease and pest infestation.
Potatoes have become a rare item in our pantry.
So naturally, we have yet to grow potatoes despite their relative ease of care.

It so happens that our friend Henry Ellenberger is the best source of organic seed potatoes in the province, and we were fortunate enough to receive two bags worth of his potatoes for our own use.
Just because we hadn't planned on planting potatoes doesn't mean we should pass up the opportunity.

There are three varieties: Onaway, Red Norland, and Agria.
I have planted them separately in order to keep track of their individual progress.
I have always been interested in the stacking method of growing potatoes, but I didn't have much prepared, so these have been planted in the stacking style, but just on the ground.

Having done a great deal of planting and digging, and digging, and digging already,
I wasn't eager to start a large plot of potatoes.
Instead, a simple cruise around the yard would suffice,
to find some suitable spots for growing spuds.
Oh yes! I had that great Stompin' Tom song running through my mind all day. Even now....
Of course, not having any knowledge of potato growing, this was mostly guesswork.
I have researched the stacking method, and so I used what I learned to figure out where to put potatoes.

I put three different beds in place using natural features.
The first is a depression along the edge of our driveway.
It's a natural trough, and so the potatoes went onto the ground and were covered with aged horse manure.
Once the tubers begin to grow, then I'll keep piling organic material over top to bolster the yield.
It is the same procedure as the stacking method, only more difficult to harvest.

The second planting is adjacent to the garden.
The potatoes were simply placed on the ground, and covered with soil.
The major issue is the chickens. They are always watching.
Break up any dirt, or lay mulch on the ground and they're into it with no regard whatsoever for what was just planted.
Until the chickens are properly fenced, everything else must be protected from them.
I tried a few different tricks to deter them, but I'll have to keep an eye out.

There are lots of good places in the pig compound, but the pigs would have them eaten up right away.
But there's a pile of half rotten balsam logs that looked perfect.
In fact, this may be considered 'hugelkultur', though I still don't fully understand the specifics of that term.
The logs are largely decomposed in the middle and offer prepared troughs which looked suitable for planting potatoes into.
I placed soil over top and then placed more logs to keep both pigs and chickens out.
The pigs could get them if they really wanted to, but I am hoping that it will be too much effort for them when there is easier food to be found.
Like in the other plots, I'll pile on more material as the plants grow.
These should be easy to harvest.

If any of these plantings work, it will be a precedent for future potato plans.
There is plenty of difficult land here that could be put to good use by planting potatoes.
My hope is that by building up the soil growing potatoes, these prepared beds may serve to grow other crops in due rotation.
It certainly is a good exercise in using as much available space as possible.

There are a few leftover seed potatoes.
Auren thinks that he would like to start his own potato patch.
He may be thinking about the potential for French fries.
Or, perhaps he's a potato farmer at heart.


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