Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How I grow potatoes....

You would be surprised how many people ask how to grow potatoes.  It's actually very simple.

  1. You dig a ditch.
  2. Put potato in ground.  Sometimes I cut them to get 2-3 eyes in a piece if they are big, otherwise just toss them in whole.
  3. Let the plant start to grow and get green and then pull the loose dirt that you pull out of the ditch back on the row covering the plants, this is called hilling.  Don't hill them too early or you will kill the plant.
  4. Now my soil is really rocky, so I only pull dirt 1 or two times.  After that they get a good healthy mulching with straw. 
  5. When the plants die back (don't be scared they are supposed to die off!), then you can start pulling potatoes.  You can start earlier but you won't get the yield you would if you let them go to full maturity.
So why the straw you ask?  Well, three reasons. 

First I can't really get too deep with my tiller even with the furrowing attachment, and we have lots of rock. 

Second, and one of my main reasons I do it, is to avoid bugs.  Believe it or not you will have far less if not almost eliminate the potato bug from your patch if you use straw mulch.  They hate trying to get through the mulch to get to the plant.

And lastly, mulching anything keeps the moisture in.  Have you ever mulched your flower beds with a good thick layer of mulch?  Go dig down in that stuff and see how moist the soil is.  I never watered my garden this year, although we got a good amount of rain, but where the mulch was the plants flourished.   Mulch, it's a good thing.  LOL!

I didn't fence my potatoes this year and the deer did not bother them.  I know they are poisonous but I have heard others say they had deer damage.  They seem to not bother mine as much as other plants.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Potato time..............

At planting time I planned on only growing 10 pounds each of Yukon and red potatoes.  The place I purchased them from only had a 5 pound bag of Yukon potatoes, but they had a white variety.  Hmmmmm....what to do.  So I purchased 5 pounds of Yukon, 10 pounds of Red Norland and 5 pounds of Superior White potatoes.

To date I have completely harvested the Yukon gold.  Yield......38 pounds.  Is that good or bad?  For me that's great considering last year I planted 5 pounds of Yukon potatoes and got about 3 potatoes back.  The rest died.  I don't know why, sadly.

I have also pulled about 4 plants of the reds and 2 plants of whites.  Yields so far are 8 pounds of red and just under 6 pounds of white.  But the reds were pulled before the plants died back so they were a little early.

I canned my Yukons.  I tried last year to store potatoes in my basement.  What a joke...those stinkers just started sprouting.  Ugh!  So this year I canned them.  I plan on canning the rest and giving some away to neighbors and maybe trying to dehydrate some for later use as well.

I canned approximately 25 pounds of potatoes give or take and after removing bad spots and blemishes the yield was 17 pints and 5 quarts of canned potatoes.

And I couldn't resist this morning.  I made potatoes and onions for breakfast.  Wow!  Way better than you get at any store.....  One more reason to grow your own!

Monday, July 15, 2013

You grow garlic?

Yes and it's really not hard to do, if you are patient. I giggle every time someone says you grow that?  From potatoes to onions to garlic.  The stuff comes from somewhere so I am surprised that people don't know how it gets to the store. 

A lot of people don't realize that potatoes grow under ground. Same with garlic. 

Garlic is planted just like an onion. You could get the stuff from the grocery store in the produce aisle but you are at the mercy of the farm it came from, unless you buy organic.  Other options are from mail order catalogs or local plant stores. I got mine from my local Agway store. 

The trick to garlic....plant in October and harvest in July. Yep that's nine months!!! It will get itself established and sit over the winter. By March or April when the ground starts to get warm it will start to grow. When the garlic stems die off and turn brown you can harvest. I was rather pleased with my harvest and it tastes MUCH better than in the store. 

After harvest you can use it or dry it naturally in a warm dry location or use a dehydrator. If you dry it and then pulverize it, you have your own garlic powder!   By the way, you can do the same thing with onions. 

Here's what I harvested this year. I will be planting a bunch this fall. 

Now go grow some garlic!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let me catch you up......

So the last few weeks have been CRAZY!  Last Tuesday I had sinus surgery.  The third one, the last being 15 years ago.  Everything was going great until I heard after surgery the hospital pulled the plug on part of my treatment.  Not sure what happened and why but I WILL find out.  I'm kinda really pissed that up until my doctor walked into the OR that she thought everything was a go and then during the operation found out otherwise.  Nice for them to let everyone else in on that little detail.  Especially since I was unconscious.    And don't get me started on the last nurse I had to deal with.....there is a letter going to be written!

So the garden is planted with the exception of beans.  I tried to get everything done before surgery but it didn't work out as planned.  And now it is hotter than hot!  Ugh!!!

Our growing season lasts into October so that still gives me about 4 months of growing left.  I'm going to plant the beans anyway.  Crossing my fingers we don't get an early cool down this year.   I think the majority of the beans are 50-60 days so I still have time.  And I want to get some more corn planted.  Late sweet corn is a highly sought after thing around here so maybe I can capitalize on that.  :) 

Tomatoes are looking good, and same with eggplant.  I need to get them some fertilizer since they are looking a bit yellow and not growing too much.  Maybe it's the mulch bed?  Who knows.  I haven't watered at all this year unless it was a new plant in the ground and so far they are all surviving well.

Oh and the sunflowers are up....let me tell you this much....don't buy cheap seed!  I had 2 packs of Burpee sunflower seeds that almost all of them sprouted and the pack of cheap mix flower sunflowers....well.....not so much.  Interesting factoid.  Won't buy them next year for sure.

When this heat breaks or I get out before night and it's cool I'll take some pictures.  Maybe a video.....we'll see.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Celery Update.....

I wanted to give an update and show you how fast this celery is re-growing in the dish of water.

Here's what it looked like 4 days ago...

And here it is today....

There are no roots to speak of and I'm not sure if it will root but in a few days or so I am going to plant it in a pot or in the garden. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Re-growing celery from store bought...really?

I saw a lot of people using the bottoms of store bought green onions and celery to grow new plants and I finally remembered to try this before the end of the stalk made it's way to the chickens or garbage disposal.

What I have here is an organic celery end.  If you are going to do this you may as well invest in the organic produce.  If it works then you get multiple growth from a single purchase.  Stretching the dollar!

All I did was score the bottom lightly with a fork, you could use a sharp knive, and put it in a dish of shallow water.  Keep an eye on the water.  As it evaporates and the plant draws it in you need to add more.

The little sprouts in the middle are new growth!  Amazing.  The bottom should sprout some roots and then it can be planted in the garden or pot.  It should be a fun experiment.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Garden Update - those pesky deer.....

Yesterday was a race against the rain.  I had a ton to plant and get picked and try to fence things in....those darn deer! 

My poor lettuce.  Good thing this variety will grow back.

I started my day running something to school for my son and then decided to hit up the greenhouse next to the school.  Ugh why do I do this to myself?  Bought MORE plants.  Oiy!  I HAD to get more lettuce thanks to the deer and I picked up a few celery plants.  Never grew celery and what the heck, may as well try right?

And I replaced the plants I had on the brink of death and thought I no avail....again the deer.  Ate the leaves right off the little buggers.  But I see they don't like watermelon or basil.  They were right next to the plants and not a nibble.  Good for me!

I also picked up a few herbs....cilantro (my absolute favorite herb), oregano and dill for my pickles.

After this torrential rain we are supposed to get I'm getting the bean T-Pee erected and strings run and then plant the beans and peas.  It's the last day of school here and I really need the help of an older sibling.  Hard to harness a 4 year olds attention for very long.

Here's a photo of one bed of tomatoes.  These are the San Marzano, 12 of them.  Just beyond them are the Amish Paste and the lone Tim's Black Ruffle.  Another bed has my yellow Brandywine and Cherokee Purple and the final "tomato" plants are the Tomatillo.  I know they technically aren't tomatoes but I put them in that category for my garden's sake....


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Breakfast - Local, organic, sustainable.....and cheap!

There is nothing better than going out your back door and picking all the ingredients for breakfast.
Today I harvested some of my baby spinach, pulled a sweet (candy) onion and some asparagus from the garden and hijacked 2 eggs from the chickens.
I par-cooked the asparagus and cut into about 1" pieces.  I then cut the onion to just above the white part and sautéed with the asparagus in a little olive oil and butter.  Added my eggs scrambled and the spinach.  Just let cook on medium heat slowly.   I had a piece of toast with homemade strawberry jam to complete the dish.   
The cost for this meal....pennies.  And I literally mean pennies.  Maybe 5 cents.  Try to get something like that out at a restaurant for that price!
Ingredients - simple.
In the pan...
All done...and it tasted delicious.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Finally some rain and planting!

I did finally get some of my plants in.  I thought I got all the peppers planted....then I found some more!  Whoops! 

I got the mulch in place for my faux raised beds although I may have put a few inches too much.  I think I had to dig down about 6 inches or so to find the dirt below.  Note to self, don't try putting mulch down then planting right away.  The dirt was SO DRY!  I did make holes in the two beds where the tomatoes are going so hopefully with the rain last night there will be some moist dirt under there!

I have the cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes and tomatillos yet to plant and the rest are getting started by seed.  Beans, cowpeas and squash. 

I want to get them all done this week.  I'm crossing my fingers!  And hopefully the deer stay out!  Then it's time to sit back and wait for everything to grow.....  :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Hot Hot Hot.....

Boy it's hot!  The past few days have been just hot and humid and downright terrible to deal with.  I can't garden or do anything with this heat.  Right now I have to get out there and pick strawberries and asparagus, and I just know it's going to be miserable!

Speaking of the asparagus.  Holy cow!  It got hot and it's growing like a weed.  I picked about 4.5 pounds a couple of days ago and I should have picked last night and didn't and today it's out of control.  And more of it is starting to show up. 

I'll post some photos after I get out there and show you my harvest for today!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Well, deer....not dear.....we need to talk.   Talk about STAYING OUT OF THE GARDEN....

The fence is there for a reason.

Ok, so I'm trying a new approach to the deer fencing this year.  With the addition of the extended garden, I can't afford to put up conventional's just too expensive.

I saw on youtube a video where a guy used 30# test fishing line to keep the deer out.   String it tight and when the deer press against it they don't like it and they can't see it to jump over.  I did 3 strands and thought I was good.  Well......

This morning about 6:30am I ran out to let the chickens out.  What do I see.....a deer in my garden.  Now granted the only 2 sides are done with the fishing line.  He or she ran up to the top edge and stopped short of the fence.   Hmmmmm.....going to stay in there or what.  Next, and I swear it happened, it stuck it's tongue out at me and slipped right through the middle and top row of line!  WHAT!?!?!?!?!

Ok so now I have run three full sides and half of one.  I still need to get the tractor in there so it's partially open.  AND I made it 5 strands not 3.  I'll be out again in the morning to check on this stinking deer.  Going to first rake all the footprints out and stalk those buggers.

It may be kinda hard to see but it's there. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's planted now!

Yesterday was a hot and humid day.  I think it was near 80 but it felt so much hotter.  Especially when the clouds let the sun through.  I felt like I was baking! 

I re-tilled an area that was a new section of garden, connecting two gardens together.  It was a pain to mow and not get grass in either the strawberries or the garden itself so I just tilled it up.  It is now home to the corn!

So corn went in yesterday, 3 rows.  In another few weeks I'll get another 3 rows planted.  If there is seed left over, I plan on doing a row or two in the upper garden.  Hopefully we will get a good crop this year.

The past few years, we planted silver queen corn.  It was a disaster!  Hardly any yield to speak of and then the stink bugs got them.  This year I chose a bi-color variety, Luscious.  And I'm going to attack those darn bugs with a soapy water bath when they come around!

Things are getting there, but slowly!  I am planning to get the seeds I have started into the ground this week.  I must be done! 

Next new deer repellant system......cheaper and I hope it works!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

More planted, more to go! And I saw some new flowers!!!

Yesterday I did some tilling.  Yes, I know you Back to Eden purists are cringing right now, but I did it anyway.

I did get about 1/2 a row of stringless stringbeans planted and a few lettuces I had growing in pots.  I plan to start some more and have a rotating crop.  Some didn't germinate.  I guess that is a good thing, then they aren't all coming in at once.  There is NO way to preserve lettuce and we can't eat all of it at once.

I planted today some spinach and the rest of the baby bok choy.  I tried some over a month ago and only a couple came up.  Crossing fingers I have better luck this time.  The ones that did come up I see are being eaten by something, so I am going to break out the DE and dust the dickens out of them.  And I found some slugs, baby slugs, but still....they'll be getting the treatment too!  *evil laugh*

I noticed this morning that my peas looked like they were either getting new growth or some flowers.  This afternoon I can confirm they are flowers!  That means peas around the corner.  This variety is called Strike Peas.   I purchase a lot of my seeds local from Amish farms.  They told me the must be staked.  I did some research on the internet and found they only get about 2 feet tall and staking is optional.  Hmmmm......I went the optional route!  Why not and see what happens.  They did only get a little more than a foot tall and seem to be ok so we are going to let things be for now.    I can do a fall planting and maybe stake them...or not...

I will have pictures to post later.  I must run to a baseball game for my son.  That's been my life lately.  So, check again tomorrow....I'll have more growing updates then.....

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Radishes are up.....

Our frost date was this past weekend.  I never trust those dates and for good reason, two days later we had a frost!

The potato plants took a little hit.  Yukon golds more than the others.  I believe they will be ok.  I did hill them once already before the frost hit.  Strawberries made it with no damage. 

Here is the first veggie that I planted from seed this year.  These are Saxa II radishes.  They say they are ready in 18 days but these took about 6 weeks.  Maybe it was a bit cool for them to get started.  I also have some baby bok choy that I planted around the same time.  Most of it didn't survive but I think there are a few still going.  I'm going to plant more so no worries there.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

First Vegetable - Asparagus

We have had some teetering weather here lately.  Some days warm, some cold, too cold for me, but, one sure sign that the weather is changing is this:

My first asparagus stalk has come out.  This was April 14th and now there are several more coming out. 

At first when I planted them I thought I may have sentenced them to doom.  I didn't plant them deep enough.  So I piled on some dirt and then some wood chips once I cut the ferns down.   Looks like all is well, thankfully.     I can't wait until I have enough for dinner!

Next post is a video of the garden so far.......stay tuned!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

End of winter? Let's hope!

Boy has it been cold.  I don't think Old Man Winter wanted to give up his grip this year.  We got a snow storm on March 25!  And it's almost April 1 and I haven't even gotten my seeds started yet!  This is probably not a bad thing since it's not warm enough to get them outside anytime soon.  If it runs a little later in the season it's ok.  We stay warm here in Pennsylvania until sometimes late September.

So where are we with the garden?  I have my mulch moved to the garden area.  See post below to see my huge loads of FREE mulch!  I contacted my local appliance store and they saved me some cardboard boxes.  Apparently I'm not the only one that has figured this method of ground + cardboard + mulch = an awesome garden bed!  At any rate, I'll take what I can get. 

I have most of my garden layout done with the Mother Earth News Garden Planner software.  Check it out here:

I am going to deploy a  mix of the Back to Eden method and square foot gardening.  Now I know the SFG method is for small spaces, but I need to pack a lot into my space.  I am hoping this works out!    I'm sure it will be ok and I'm worrying for nothing.  But like my dogs, the garden is a part of my family! LOL!

This year I'm going to try and film at least once a week to show you how things are going.  Maybe more depending on what is happening.  There is going to be a lot of planting and such the first few weeks but then it will die down until we get into harvest.  I'm planting a lot of tomatoes this year and hope to make quite a lot of tomato sauce to can.  I'll bring you along on this journey too. 

Oh and my asparagus isn't up....yet....and the strawberries look like they are starting to come back and I can see some new growth.  It won't be long and I'll be up to my ears in both of these!

I have lots planned for this summer....stick around!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Got mulch?!?

I was fortunate enough to find a tree crew, which I call my orange truck guys, who could deliver some wood chips for free!  Unfortunately, they couldn't get the trucks with the booms to the back of my property, they felt it was unsafe because the path to get there had an incline they had to ride along.  So they dumped them in my driveway.  Two loads and 40 yards total!  Holy cow it's a big pile of mulch.

(40 yards of free mulch)

I will have to move it with the tractor but hey it was free right?!?

So what am I going to do with all this mulch?  Well, I'm planning a modified Back to Eden garden of sorts.  A few posts ago I mentioned that I had expanded my garden.  It will now include a 60' x 60' bed along with the original 25' x 50'.  I share with my neighbor so don't freak out and think it's all mine!  LOL! 

I have already placed mulch from a previous load of free chips (sadly that pile is almost gone!) between my rows of strawberries and over my asparagus patch.  The rest are for the garden.  I'm combining square foot gardening and Back to Eden gardening methods.  Since my plot is huge and raised beds are just not in the budget I am going to have to compromise. 

So the plan is to plant my plants in the square foot method and then mulch around them creating a semi Back to Eden faux raised beds.  The pathways are going to have to remain uncovered unless I can be fortunate enough to get more wood chips.  The only things I won't be covering with mulch are the potatoes. They get their own special treatment of straw mulching.  I did this last year and it worked fabulously.  I never watered the potatoes, they stayed moist because of the straw, and digging them up only required pulling the plants and moving dirt with my hands. 

In the 25' x 50' plot I will be attempting the 3 sisters method.  I know, a lot going on in my garden but how else to learn what works!  I will have corn, Missouri Wonder pole beans  and pumpkin, cantaloupe, and maybe some other winter squash in here.  I may put some teepees with some cowpea variety.

So it's an experiment.  I have a ton of varieties to grow, just see my seed hauls!  I think a mix of these gardening style methods are bound to work.  It can't hurt to try, right?

Stay tuned, it's almost time to start seeds indoors.  I almost can't wait!