November 19, 2012

Mini Harvest - Fall 2012

About a month ago we dug up the potatoes and beets we planted this year, and cut down the basil plants. More recently, we turned over our garden bed and planted some garlic.

The weather was excellent, and Violet and Millie were great helpers in picking the basil leaves off the plants.

Later, Becky made all this basil into quite a lot of pesto, which went straight to the freezer.

Violet in particular was excited to pull up the beets. Though most of them were too small to be impressive, they were cute and we roasted and enjoyed about half of them on salads.

The garden box was planted by the girls and my mom, who visited in the spring. They also planted peppers, which all eventually died, cherry tomatoes, which did well for a while, then abruptly all died in July, plus some marigolds, nasturtium, sage, and thyme. Here are some pictures of them planting:

I had got the seed potatoes for the potato boxes last spring from a colleague at work, Wendy Montanez-Ortiz. She is an enthusiastic amateur potato breeder who corresponds and trades samples with other breeders on the internet. I planted two of something called "AK", which is pretty vigorous and a good producer. I also had one "Yungay" and one called "104"  I think.

My plan was to build up around the potato plants as they grew with soil, adding more levels of box framing as needed. As it turns out, I didn't really have enough soil to plant them in, possibly 10cm deep at the bottom of the box. It was about 1/2 compost, 1/2 soil from the garden store. We don't love using our own soil due to heavy metal concerns.

The plants got off to a decent start, especially the AKs, in the upper right of both boxes shown below in the spring some weeks after Violet and I planted them.

I had heard that you could build up around potatoes with mulch or hay instead of soil, and that sounded a lot easier to me so I proceeded to build up with hay. Unfortunately some of the hay I started with was infested with slugs! So every morning I would pick like 20 baby slugs off the potato plants on my way out to work.

After building up a second layer of box frame and adding hay a few times, I got rather sidetracked and neglected the potatoes until fall, other than watering them when it didn't rain much.

When we finally unpacked the boxes, there were no potatoes in the hay, to our disappointment. We were thinking the potatoes were a bust, but then we got down to the soil, and it was probably 50% potato by volume.

There were almost no potatoes bigger than a pea from the other two plants, but the AKs had put out a solid load of red skinned, white fleshed potatoes. Possibly 2-3kg in all.

We rinsed them off and brought them in. I saved a couple for seed for next year, and we ate through the rest over the next few weeks. They were pretty tasty, though some of the small ones had a weird texture, as though the starch hadn't fully formed or something.

Several weeks later, I turned over the bed with a fork, folding in compost cleaned out of the bin for the winter. We planted two heads each of Applegate Giant, and Mother of Pearl, both softneck varieties.

Then we heaped up a bunch of leaves on the bed for the winter. First time planting garlic, so we'll see how it goes.

 We also put some compost + leaves on the potato beds.

No comments: