I have to wonder how many blogs out there have posts titled like this one.
Jeremy and I have been out of town for the past few days for a comic book convention in Chicago, so I managed to miss almost all of the amazing 50-60º weather that Michigan decided to tease us with. I'm almost glad, since we're due another winter storm this week, with highs hovering in the high 30's. Ah well. Yesterday was the first day of spring, and I can feel the shift into growing season more than ever. The chorus frogs are peeping, as are the spring peepers, the songbirds are singing and presenting, the crocuses are peeking up out of the soil over by Cleo's grave and the final harbinger of spring appeared yesterday while Jeremy and I were at the garden center picking up spring garlic and onion sets to plant. What is this final harbinger? The Turkey Vulture! They may very well be the biggest wimps when it comes to winter weather, but they are carrion and between their dining habits and their naked pink heads nobody wants to use them as a spokesbird for anything. I spotted them swooping around outside while in line at the garden center and commented on how they really are a better indication of spring than the robin who has been around for weeks (and weathered many a snow storm) and a petite older woman ahead of me in line turned around to stare openly at me with a look of disgust and mild amusement. Hah. Ah well.
Yesterday was a day for potatoes. I've never planted potatoes, and I'm known for working out my own (see also: lazy) ways to try new things. I wanted to plant them in straw, and in a number of places I've read I can just lay them on top of the grass early in the spring before it starts to grow and they'll send their roots through to the soil. Supposedly the thick straw mulch will smother the grass and the potatoes will do their thing. I was skeptical, especially since we have such intense perennial grasses, so I decided to add another step.
First I cleared the area of what I could as far as dead grass, branches, etc (A thatching rake is my best friend!) and then I took some of the cardboard that I had laid out through the winter and laid it down where I wanted my potatoes. This cardboard is still intact, but it is very close to decomposition and has wormholes where they've begun to chew at it. My thinking is that once the worms do their thing this spring, they'll definitely chew right through this stuff, but not likely before it smothers the grass.
After the cardboard I covered it with a layer of compost so that the potatoes have something to begin rooting in and the worms have a bit of added incentive to get to the other side of the cardboard.
I laid the potatoes on the compost and covered them with 4-6" of straw mulch that I had pulled off of the strawberry beds (reuse, reuse, reuse!). These potatoes are not the ones that I ordered from Maine Potato Lady back at the beginning of the year. Those will be planted elsewhere. These are the potatoes that I bought ages ago and tried to store in our potato basket. Apparently the basket gets too much light where it is, because all of the potatoes in it have sprouted! Some of them even grew 12" shoots! Yikes. Ah well. They were all fun, organically grown varieties in various colors so I decided just to plant them and see what happens. I'll keep you all posted on the progress of this bed!
On the docket for today: Peas, Garlic and Onions sets have to get in the ground ASAP!
Do you grow potatoes? What method have you found works best where you live?