This weekend the weather was amazing. The sun was out, it was warm, and we all got sunburned. It was the first really nice weekend of the year. So nice in fact, that I was completely unmotivated to sit down at the computer inside and write a single line. I had plenty of blog inspiration though. I took no less than 76 photos this weekend.
Since the weather is so nice, we’re thinking we’ll be able to open the beehive in a couple of weeks and actually get some cool photos (and possibly harvest some honey), so I decided to put off the beekeeping 101 boot camp until then. The bees were doing some housekeeping this weekend, and I saw of them coming back to the hive with pollen even, so I know it’ll be good news on the bee front.
We got started on some of the early spring to-dos. We cleaned out the flower beds and checked on the garlic. I have some kohlrabi that looks like it has made it over the winter, and we got a jump on removing the grass and from some new beds that we hope to plant this year. And we hacked out a place for some potatoes since the neighbor is using his garden for other crops this year.
Once we got some of the prep work out of the way, Rick went downstairs and got our seed potatoes out of the cellar.
You might imagine that we were surprised to see the spuds with eight-inch long sprouts sticking their tips out of the top of their box. From everything we’ve read, you are supposed to “chit” your potatoes around January, letting them begin to get sprouts, and then plant them out with one-inch long sprouts.
In case you’ve never heard of this before, chitting potatoes means you are encouraging the eyes of your seed potatoes to sprout before you plant them.
I don’t know if we left the lid open too early or what, but they were a-growin’. The potatoes, fingerlings, were a little soft, spongy even. We were feeling a bit panicky, unsure if our chits were ruined or if they had a head start.
We decided to go ahead and plant them. What is the worst that can happen? We’ll get a lousy yield? If we didn’t plant them, we wouldn’t get any. So in the ground they went.
This year, since our space is pretty limited, we decided to experiment with a tower. Most of the potatoes are in rows, but we had room for one tower. I’m excited to compare how they do. From what I’ve read, fingerlings are good candidates for towers.
I stated by digging a round hole about eight inches deep. I put some loose soil and finished compost in the bottom, and then spaced my super-chitted spuds in a circle around the hole, sprout side up. I lightly covered them with soil.
I had some half-decomposed leaves lying around, and since potatoes are heavy feeders and the tower is in a newer bed without the best soil ever, I layered in some leaves with the soil.
I alternated layers of soil and leaves until the sprouts were completely covered. Then I put an old cage over the top. Notice, there is still a pile of soil there on the left and some leaves on the right of the tower, so I can continue to hill-up as the sprouts poke through.
I’m very excited to see how this comes out. I was completely surprised at the chits having such long sprouts, and so I’m looking forward to how they do. And I’m excited to see how the potatoes in the tower do compared to those in the rows that we planted at the same time.
Have you planted potatoes in a tower? What about our super long sprouts on the spuds; ever had something like that? Do tell!
I just put my potatoes in this weekend… there was a layer of softish ones left from last year’s harvest, and they all had big, long sprouts on them. I put them in rows, though, having never heard about the tower. I look forward to hearng how they do!
Wow, those are some super-long sprouts! Still, I’m betting they’ll be ok, especially since you’re putting them into such well-prepared ground with the compost and leaves.
I’ve not tries tomato towers with taters before – will you be hilling them up in there as they grow, or is it to support the plants themselves? I’m contemplating trying a potato box this year, as I always wrestle with properly hilling them up without walls.
We had an unseasonably warm winter up here in Michigan, but I’m still hesitant to put anything into the ground yet, for fear of a vicious cold snap before April. Going to get started on seeds inside this week, though! \o/