Hi everyone it’s John again, here to bore y’all with some horticulture. A while back I shared some pictures from Feb. 23, 2014 and talked a bit about adding organic material to the garden soil. The next day, Feb. 24th, we planted our potatoes for the year. Once again I took lots of pictures and would like to share.
I started potato planting by opening rows using a middle buster plow attached to the center of my cultivator implement bar behind our tractor. As shown above, I started out by plowing one straight row and placing each additional row by simply running the wheels of my tractor in the track left behind when I made the previous row (above left). This makes the row spacing just right for future cultivation and weeding between the rows. To cultivate I remove the middle buster from the implement bar and attach smaller plows at the attach points shown in the picture (above right and center). These smaller plows will contact the soil right behind my tractor tires as I cultivate. This method of laying out my rows allows me to drive the tractor back through the same tire tracks left behind when I opened the rows to accomplish weeding without damaging my plants.
After opening the rows for planting we cut our seed potatoes. The part of the potato that grows into a potato plant is the eye. Each seed potato may have several eyes so this allows us to cut the seed potato, usually into several pieces, for planting. We planted about sixty pounds of seed potatoes this year.
We placed the seed potatoes in the open row approximately six inches apart along the length of each row and at the bottom of the furrows. We use chicken manure for fertilizer but commercial fertilizer may be used at this point in the process. Something like 13-13-13 works well, however, a soil test can tell you exactly what you need to use. Keep in mind that if your soil test says to use lime, never use lime on potatoes. A calcium supplement can be sprayed on the plants later instead.
Here’s Justin Cole, my step son, covering my seed potatoes. Pretty nice of him to help me out with all this huh? He spent a good part of his day out in the cold helping me with this potato project. Notice he is using his feet to close the dirt in over the seed potatoes. If we would have had a large field of rows to close, we could have placed hilling disks or closing plows on our cultivator and closed the rows with the tractor.
I hauled a truck load of hay to spread directly over the rows to protect them in case of a hard freeze. Its a good thing I did too! Not long after we planted this potato crop we had about three inches of solid ice and freezing weather. The hay cover provided enough insulation to keep my potatoes safe from the freeze.
The above picture was taken Saturday, April 12, 2014. Looks like our potatoes are doing well! I have already had to spray for potato bugs though. A small brown bug that looks kind of like a ladybug will eat the potato plants and bring the crop to spoil if not kept in check. When I see these bugs begin to appear I spray the plants with insecticide or treat them with 5% seven dust.
The next thing we planted was onions. About two weeks after we planted potatoes and right after the last hard freeze, my brother-in-law John and I planted a couple of rows of onions. We started out by opening some rows just like I did for the potatoes.
There are a couple of ways to start onions. One way (shown above) is to plant onion bulbs. Bulbs can be saved over the winter just like many flower bulbs or they can be purchased from a feed store or farm supply in late winter. Onion plants can also be used. I have also heard of people starting them from seeds but I’ve never tried it, maybe a future project.
I place the onion bulbs in the row differently than I do potatoes. I don’t put the onions all the way in the bottom of the furrow. I put them about half way down the side and alternate them from side to side as shown above. This makes one row almost like two close rows side by side.
Above is my brother-in-law John covering the onion bulbs. He just covered them loosely with a couple of inches of soil.
The onions did come up and are growing well. We also have planted strawberries, lettuce, turnips, radishes, kale, and about a third of an acre of sunflowers. I will keep you updated on our progress in the vegetable garden in future posts.
Look forward to Pigs-n-chickens in just a few days!