I am a periodic gardener. I do not slavishly visit the garden every single day to pull weeds and generally fuss about the place. I am extremely time poor. I tend to carry out garden maintenance in blocks of time as this method fits in best with my self employment of creating bead embroidery jewelry for sale. I tend to regard my time in the garden as “sessions”. Today was a potato session as I put in some seed potatoes to enjoy in a few month’s time.
I don’t generally do what they say on the packet of seed potatoes. I plant my way and this has proven to be an excellent way of harvesting good sized tubers that are plentiful. As always, the answer lies in the soil. We are new to this part of the world so I do not have my own compost yet. Horticultural compromises must be made as a result of this lack of nature’s miracle product. I always shove in potatoes to start with as these loosen up the soil.
I buy registered seed potatoes wherever possible as these are disease free. I shove the tubers into an old egg carton and put that out on the back verandah. The tubers green up and then start to form chubby sprouts.
I then wait until the moon has past the full moon phase and is reducing in size. This method of planting by the moon has been carried out for centuries by my ancestors, all farming folks in Eastern Europe. I know people scoff at planting by the moon but that is their problem and not mine. The moon planting cycle works for me as it has for my impoverished ancestors who relied on their crops for their survival.
I usually shovel out a long trench that is approximately 30 centimeters (12 inches) in depth. This is twice as deep as what they say on the packet but if I went through life following what was written on packets and listening to our politicians, I would not have done half the things I have done. I break down clods into fine tilth.
Then I sprinkle in a line of rose food. I don’t muck around buying in specific fertilisers for plants as this is a waste of money. I just buy a big bucket of rose food. After the first line of fertiliser has gone into the soil, I cover over with a light sprinkling of soil and then add the tubers with the sprouts facing upwards. The tubers are just covered over with soil.
Another line of fertiliser and then the trench is filled in. In effect, this is a two fertiliser layer method of planting that I have developed and it works for me. As I have no compost, the next best adjunct to long term soil improvement is a thick coating of lucerne.
After one month has passed and the plants are well up, I do another important step in successful potato growing and that is to hill up the plants. I also add a third addition of rose food and water it in well during this time.
Spuds need food and moisture if they are to produce crops. A shortage of water will turn off the plants from producing tubers. I start digging spuds up when the plants start to dry off and flop all over the place.
The moment of truth arrives. The spuds in the basket are what one single plant produced. These are Pontiac potatoes and they grew to a very large size. One weighed in at one kilogram. Just remember to fertiliser well and keep the moisture up to your spud patch for a great harvest.
We play a word game in our house where we liken our pets to objects for a close match as possible. Playing the word game here in the vegie patch, I’d say Teddy is a Pontiac with that huge, elliptical head and cavernous mouth that belongs to the Shih Tzu breed. Priscilla on the other hand is a tiny Maltese so I reckon she would pass for those slender Kipfler potatoes …..