June 20, 2010

How to Have Potatoes in June

Yes! Fresh new potatoes in June! Here's how to do it:

1.) First of all, remember that potatoes are Irish. Or that the Irish love potatoes. Or that potatoes grow in Ireland. Or remember the Irish potato famine. Or think of anything Irish. Because then you will remember to plant potatoes on Saint Patrick's Day. What?! Your ground is still frozen then? Same here. But potatoes get planted as close to Saint Patrick's Day as possible.

Of course I've never found a nursery that has seed potatoes for sale in March, so you want to save some of your potatoes from last season to use for seed.

They aren't pretty. But they are good for seed. (And truth be told, most of them are still good eating, too.)

These potatoes started growing little potatoes in storage. (You can read about harvesting and storing potatoes here.)

2.) Put on your winter coat. Your garden is cold in March.

3.) As soon as you can get your rototiller and your hoe into that cold dirt, work the soil into a nice powder and dig a deep trench.

4.) Cut your seed potatoes into chunks that have an eye or a tendril growing from them.

As the plant begins to grow it will get energy from that potato chunk, so be sure to leave enough potato to feed the plant.

Place your chunks of potato about a foot apart in the trench, tendril or eye facing up.

5.) When all of your potatoes are placed in the trench, cover the whole length of trench with a hill of soil. Really pile it up so those potato pieces are laying deep down in the soil.

6.) Now wait. And watch. Eventually little green shoots will start to poke out of that hill. If you planted your potatoes in the middle of March you are probably still having occasional frosts when the plants start to show. That's okay! Cover those babies generously with loose straw. Make sure they are well protected under straw any any time you suspect a frost.

7.) You might need to say a little prayer to Mother Nature because you put a lot of work into planting those potatoes and she can take out your whole crop with one cold night.

No matter how well you cover your potatoes, they might get a little nip causing some leaves to turn black. Don't lose hope if this happens. The potato plants might survive this.

8.) Beware: Some people who don't know any better might laugh and make fun when they see you planting potatoes in your garden in March. Let them laugh. Snuggle down into the warmth of your coat and think about June... you will be the one laughing when you are eating fabulous fresh new potatoes!

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