Wednesday, May 18, 2011

our homestead: oh hey, potatoes!

All of the potatoes I planted back in early spring are growing and appear to be very healthy. I planted French La Ratte Fingerlings, Peruvian Purples and Nordland Roasters. I've been foliar feeding my potato plants about once a week now...usually I give them a little spritz of a mix of water and organic fish fertilizer (nice and stinky). I also like to crumble a little compost around each plant now and then. It also helps that I planted sugar snap peas next to my potatoes- legumes grab hold of nitrogen in the air and bring it into the soil (nitrogen promotes leafy green growth). Right now, my pea starts are about a foot tall each.

Two of the best preventatives of potato blight include crop rotation and good nutrition. I'm growing my potatoes in soil that has been free of potatoes or tomatoes or any other Nightshaders, and I'm keeping up on the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.

Anyway, I did my first "hilling" yesterday. Hilling- where one draws the soil up around the potato plants on either side to build a raised mound- is essential for edible tuber development as tubers that are exposed to sunlight can turn green (a green potato can give you a stomach ache). The potatoes will branch off along the stem of the plant, so in hilling the soil, I'm ensuring that my tubers will grow in darkness and thus be fit to eat. There's nothing like a new potato- fresh, buttery and sweet with thin, papery skin. Mmm...

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