Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July Potato Harvest

After I heard rumors that in some US climates, gardeners can plant potatoes in the fall, Ms. Philly Organic decided to try. We dug a nice deep row and planted potatoes, each one separated by the length of Mr. Philly Organic's foot. Underneath the potatoes, we left a little leaf litter to create warmth for the spuds, then we immediately hilled them.

The idea is that the potatoes will begin to develop a healthy root system in the fall, which will be warmed and protected in the winter by the decomposing leaf litter. No green shoots will appear until spring but they will appear much earlier than they would if you waited for the ground to warm up before planting. The root system will begin to grow potatoes right away, instead of needing time in the spring to develop and grow.

We saw our potato flowers early and Mr. Philly Organic tasted a couple, pronouncing them unbelievably delicious. This week, Ms. Philly Organic noted that the tops of the plant were dieing and so it was time to harvest! The above picture shows our yield from our lightly amended, compacted, clay soil.

The beauty of growing potatoes in the winter is that it allows for a dual harvest each year. After digging the potatoes, Ms. Philly Organic planted some beans and onions. A row of corn is growing in nicely behind the location for the row of potatoes. Potatoes are economic and easy to grow, even for beginners. Simply plant whole, partial, or even peels (tested years ago by Ms. Philly Organic and her mom). This fall, give up a flower bed to grow a few potatoes!

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