The Yukon Gold potatoes have been turning brown, which was my cue to dig up a few plants and see what would be found. Once I got digging, I became more and more focused on pulling up as many as possible, to see just how many had grown.
I separated the potatoes into two areas, one with uncut seed spuds, and the other with potatoes cut into approximately one inch slices. I wanted to determine how much of an impact slicing the spuds would have on the yields they would deliver. While this was not a scientific method, as I didn’t count the number of spuds planted in each row, I did find out that the results were comparable.
I’ve found that if I invest one seed potato into the ground, I’ll get about 3 to 5 large potatoes or up to 10 smaller potatoes in return. If I had to guess a percentage of return, I’d say it’s over a 3X return on the original investment – Just try and pick stocks with those kind of results !
When the rain threatened to wash off my potatoes, I decided to move them inside. Potatoes that are washed after being dug up will rot, whereas unwashed spuds will last well into the next spring. When I saw the rain clouds threatening, I piled all of the drying spuds into this laundry basket and lugged them into the house. I was quite happy to being trudging along with so many pounds of weight, and I still have three whole rows of potatoes to dig up (7 rows planted).
If last year was an indication, these spuds should last well beyond February. Now, I need to find a way to store the apples that are beginning to ripen.
I planted quite a few potatoes this year, and I just couldn’t wait anymore to try them out. I was going to rip one of the plants out of the ground, for investigative porposes, when I heard that you could sneak potatoes off the side of the roots without harming the plant.
The process is very simple. Start by slowely digging around the roots of the plant. Use care not to damage the roots, as this will slow the plant down in it’s growth process.
Once you dig back some of the dirt, the potatoes and roots should be showing. Some of the potatoes will be a bright color, and a few will be darker. The darker colored potatoes are the original seed potatoes, and should not be picked. When you’ve chosen which spuds to nab, simply pluck the potatoes from the soil, and gently break any attached roots.
Once you’ve gotten a small heist, cover the roots back over with a loose covering of soil. Do not pack the soil, since this will hinder the plants growth.
You may hesitate for a moment before recovering the spuds, as I did. It’s simply amazing to imagine that a plant can harvest the minerals and moisture in the dirt, and convert all of that with the help of solar radiation into an edible potato. If you simply pause for a moment and look around, this world is pretty amazing.
The zucchini patch is doing much better these days. It seems the ground hog that I have yet to eliminate has decided to munch on only one of my zucchini patches, and leave the other alone. While I’m happy for something of a compromise for now, I will not loose to this beast, and I’ve got a long term mentality in mind. I realize this will be the location for my garden for years to come, and this family of rodents must be eliminated before all of my plants are as worn out as my aging checkbook.
The plants are still a bit small, but their ambitions must be appreciated. Most of them have three inch sized zucchini, pretty impressive for a plant which is less then two feet tall. One of these plants is sporting a double growth of produce.
I think the biggest reason for this turn around in my plants growth is directly related to the Miracle Grow I’ve been using to encourage life in these plants. I’ve sprayed a few gallons of the water/crystal mix on both patches of zucchini. It seems both areas are growing faster, and one will produce enough to keep the ground hogs away from the other. These rodents are also munching on the zucchini alone, and leaving the recovering cucumber plants alone as well.
Some of the first seeds I sowed in the garden were Waltham Butternut Squash, which are my second favorite winter treat, second only to Yukon Gold potatoes. I wanted to give these plants plenty of time to get growing well, but it didn’t seem to work. They have been popular snacks for deer and ground hogs, and most plants are shorter then the kitten that runs in my house every time I open the door. I’m going to make them a priority for side dressing and the blue water miracle grow mixture I’m using, as soon as I get some time.
Although the ground hog had trimmed my zucchini and with that action also trimmed my pride, I still have a good deal left. The front portion of the garden is growing very well. Here you will find two tomato patches, 7 rows of Yukon Gold potatoes, beans, celery, and onions. I’ve side dressed the celery and onions in an effort to kick start their growth, and I’ve applied lots of water on these brutally hot days. At least one day a week, I will cover the whole garden with four hours of sprinkler time.
The other end of the front row is also looking pretty great. My broccoli are slowly beginning to form heads, the colorful chard and lettuce are growing faster then I imagined and the beans are doing well enough considering the local deer populations appetite. My kohlrabi plants are still low to the ground at about 5 inches tall. These are cool weather compatible, so I’ve got plenty of time to get bushels of space cabbage. I’ve also planted a few pak choi plants near the kohlrabi, but they are still too small to see in the picture.
Just to note, the camera was about 15 feet in the air when I took these pictures, so the garden looks much smaller then it really is. The total length is about 250 feet long, and about 60 feet wide. I do tend to get carried away some times.
After detailing the war that has been ravaging portions of my garden in yesterdays post, I thought I would return my posts back to the bright side of things. The chard that I’ve been eating at least twice a week is doing great, still growing in wondrous colors. It’s very cool to pick and eat colorful food, and it’s an added bonus to an already healthy meal. The chard I planted last spring is just now going to seed, and I’m trying to help the plants with lots of water as they give their last energy to a new generation of possibility. I’ll do my best to collect as much seed as possible, and distribute it to fellow gardeners.
My seven rows of Yukon Gold potatoes are doing great. The first flowers have formed on a few plants. When the flowers disappear, the plants will begin production of my favorite spuds. There were three shorter rows of potatoes last year, and they lasted nearly to February. Seven rows should provide enough golden goodness to last all winter and have enough seed potatoes for next year.
This year I forgot to start some Tomatillo seedlings in the greenhouse, but Mother Nature decided to start some for me, and they are located all over the garden. The plants that do not get misidentified as weeds should grow to carry the green colored tomato-like food. I’ll then make it a point to save seeds this year.
My lettuce patch is doing great, and I really think the puppy within 30 feet of these leafy greens is the primary reason why. The endive I’ve planted further away is being nibbled down to nothing, so I know the critters have an appetite for lettuce. I’ve been trying to keep this area of the garden as free of weeds as possible. In the photo you can see how much trouble I’ve had controlling the grass.
I took a shot from one end of the garden, looking down towards the opposite edge. A good deal of the green in the photo is comprised of weeds, but I’m keeping them shorter then the garden plants, and many of my family members are beginning to help with the pest plant control. I even had help from two of my niece’s friends.
Last year when it came time to plant the potatoes, we dug a trench and placed the spuds in the ground. This year, I’ve made mounds about a foot tall, and planted the potatoes in a ditch along the ridge of the trench. This should allow the potatoes to dig deep, and grow lots of new roots. I’ve separated the spuds that were planted whole from the ones which were sliced. The first three rows were planted whole, and the following four rows were cut spuds.
When planting potatoes, it’s OK to cut them into smaller chunks if they have more then one eye. The eyes are the portion that grows out of the potato and sets leaves. After cutting them into sections, it’s a good idea to let them sit for at least 24 hours before planting them. This gives the plant time to form a scab, and helps deliver larger yeilds.
After several days of constant planting, I decided to switch gears and do some construction. I started building the roof sections, and Nate snapped this picture when I was checking out the view from the top. I’ll admit that when I first climbed up to the top I was a bit scared, but I soon found that If I concentrated on my work, didn’t look down and moved slowly, I was just fine with being up so high.
On one of the days last week, some of the neighbors came over to check out my garden and all of my other plants. It’s nice to have company that shares an interest in growing food. Darlene had given me a book about herbs a year or so ago, so I made it a point to share the rewards I had learned from the book, and I gave her one each of the herbs I’ve been growing. The next day, Dan brought me a tree that fit excellently into my little farm. Above is an English Walnut tree, and it’s the first of what I hope to be a large collection of various nut trees. He also brought some mulch to place around the plant, and after seeing just how nice the mulch worked, I bought several bags for the farm.
I finally snapped a picture of the baby apples on one of the trees in front of my home. These are the first little apples I’ve seen, and I’ve been waiting for years to see them.
I found the cart on the back of the lawn mower works very well when moving plants. There are three large gardens on the farm now, and it can be quite a pain to walk the plants two trays at a time from the greenhouse to the other end of the farm. Once we began using the cart things got much easier.
By the end of my vacation time, I had the beginning of the peak constructed. I’m using more 2 x 4s then recommended and trying to arrange the boards in a beam type construction method. At the top where the angle of the roof changes dramatically, I have three 2 x 4s wide, with the peak itself two boards wide. I built an archway in the center to help support any accumulated snow, with two boards wide, and two high. I’ll need to load up my car with 2 x 4s on the way home from work Monday to continue moving upwards.
On Sunday I snapped the picture above. If I had to choose one picture to sum up my vacation, this would be the one I would choose.
I’ve meant to post more content during my time off (I’m on vacation), but I’ve been so busy, that I haven’t found the time till just now. The last few days have certainly been interesting, with pop up storms, and very loud lightning on two occasions. The storm this morning was potent enough to knock out power at work, and cause some pretty interesting server problems. Those are fixed now, and I can go back to the farm and enjoy the good life.
When the storm shown above came through over the weekend we had little warning other then some ominous black clouds off in the horizon. Within a few moments, the clouds began to contort and shape into formations that were not taught to me in school, nor had I ever seen them before. After a good 15 minute pounding of rain, the clouds parted just as quickly and the sunlight blanketed the farm once again.
I’ve been working very diligently in the garden, and I’m approximately 3/4 done planting. I’ve moved all of my peppers out of the greenhouse, planted dozens of Tomatoes, three rows of Yukon Gold Potatoes, and all sorts of seeds have been sown. I’m trying a few experiments as usual, such as direct seeding four rows of peppers, and separating the potatoes that I’ve cut into two pieces from the spuds I’ve planted whole.
Outside of the garden I’ve been working on my chicken coop/wood shop and I’m hoping to add yet another title to this structure: Tiny observatory. I really enjoy checking out the sky on clear nights, and I’m contemplating adding a flat landing in the center of the roof to give me just enough room to set a telescope and a chair. I still need to add the peak and cover the roof, then build a small set of steps to lead up the the landing above.
Well… I’ve got some more spuds to plant, and with the sun well behind the hill, and a cold beverage soon to be in my hand, I think I’ll get some work done while things are cool !
I’ve decided to take a new approach with regards to my chickens. Up to this point, I’ve kept them in a chicken house, with a fenced in run. Since the garden is well picked over, It seemed appropriate to release them all.
They are now “free range” chickens, and they return to the chicken coop each night, which I then lock up. This protects them from foxes, bears, or any other danger of the night. Each morning I release them, to wander as they wish. I was surprised that they didn’t fly around to celebrate their freedom, but I did notice a few extra eggs the second day. I’ve fenced in the few crops which I hope to munch on later in the season.
After observing the chickens dig and peck for a while, I was off to my sisters farm for some more puppy pictures. She needed some good pictures, as the pups are for sale, and she was placing an ad for them.
After taking pictures, we started cooking up some food, most of which came out of the garden. It’s amazing just how little the whole family has spent on groceries this year, and we’ve been eating better then ever. Sandy got a steak and chopped it up with some veggies. We placed it all in an aluminum foil pouch, added some water, and placed it on a grate over an open fire.
Most garden veggies are great raw, however Kohlrabi is not one of them. I have learned a way to cook it which I really enjoy, diced with garlic and butter. Sandy and Davie have been cooking over an open fire before winter takes the option away, and I’ve learned quite a bit about eating healthy, delicious food from them. Did you know you can heat up a can of beans by simply removing the top of the can and the paper wrapper, then placing the whole can on a grate above a fire ? Simply stir occasionally to keep the beans from sticking.
We also cooked up some late season Zucchini to complete the menu. I don’t think I’ve had so many vitamins from a single meal that was totally delicious.