Greenhouse Winter Potato Growing Experiment Jan.1, '09 - May 4, '09
Four months may seem about the right timing for a successful potato harvest, the number of days for harvest ranging from 70 to 135 (according to The Wood Praire Farm in Maine, which is in no way responsible for this potato comedy. They are lovely growers of seed potatoes already planted outside. We'll see how those turn out in approximately 90 days.)
First mentioned on Feb.11 in the post Greenhouse Potatoes, this experiment was to see if seed potato would be able to last out the warmish winter until planting time by growing in a deep greenhouse bed. Was the experiment successful? That would depend if success was based solely on harvest or by the relative health of the plants and the carefree nature in which I'd wished they had grown.
Summer of '08 was my first potato planting, so I am unfamiliar with their ways. Now I realize that what I'd thought of as dread disease in the greenhouse plants may be just the natural dying off of mature plants. Are you experienced? Please let me know your thoughts.
They looked at first (well after the frost die off in their first weeks of life), to be marvelously healthy, albeit planted too closely together. It was an urgent "save the seed" movement, rather than careful planning of optimal growth conditions. This photo is from March 13th.
Then came the little disfigurements of disease
Then total disaster as the aphids increased, thanks to the ants.
Then it seemed that the plants were truly dying. Of course I never thought to count the days to see if perhaps all was on divine schedule after all. I used nitrogen therapy to try to bolster the leaves. That worked nicely for a couple of days, but alas, just more and more wilt.
Also, I was hoping to see some flowers. I'd read that the potatoes are reaching maturity when the plant flowers. I suppose all its flower-making energy was going into the aphids and I didn't receive the sign to start digging for potato treasures.
Finally today I decided I couldn't stand to see the dead foliage any more, cut the dead branches of one plant off and gingerly dug. First I pushed away the aphid ridden soil so it wouldn't get on the potatoes, then dug up ...
These beautiful, if small, clean and healthy looking blue skin potatoes. There's even enough left of the seed and stems to plant again, if there's room in the garden.
Although the original idea of these was to serve as seed potato, I've ordered many others from Maine. The brothers of the seed planted in the Greenhouse spent the rest of the winter in a friend's crawl space, cooler than mine. It turns out that those seed did wonderfully well and are now ready to plant. I hope that its dry enough tomorrow to do just that. They have wonderfully grown up eyes.
What to do with the new potatoes shown above? If they are not to be used as seed, what then? Hmmm, yummmm, with butter.
We'll know when we eat them, if the winter greenhouse potato experiment was indeed, a success.
May all your experiments bring out the beauty, joy and resiliency of life.
The greenhouse spinach was cut down to the bone to remove aphids (aphids again!) I’m wanting to be in the kitchen preparing spinach and eggs, yum. But I’m glued to the screen of my computer, working on communications to people I’ve met on a gardener blog community. I’ve spoken to many people in the past who are devoured by “social networking” on the web. But this great place, www.blotanicals.com is more than social, it ties in to my strong focus on growing food.
See, the title indicates I’m going to tell you about the new sprouts that came up in the last two days and the cool tools that came by UPS, but no, I’m getting right to the blotanical focus, so just to proove I can, I’m signing off Blotanical and going to the kitchen, n o w.
Global Growing Inspiration and Information in a friendly sharing web environment is a reality in a network of garden bloggers called Blotanical.com
Its such a delight to connect with gardeners who love to grow from myriad perspectives, flowers, food, native biospheres and suburbs. All supporting and communing and reading each others’ blogs.
An example of how much I am enjoying this creative web family is what happened when I returned home from a long day trip to the nearest city. I left garden and greenhouse supplies in the car and brought inside the edible delights. In the hallway was a big box containing long awaited garden tools. The box label read “Haws.” Wow, my watering can and garden knife. And for the last 3 hours, the box is unopened!
I went right away to the computer, opened my mail. I was faved! (That means a reader on Blotanical wants to continue reading my posts. I feel very honored and excited.) Soon I was deeply involved with editing and publishing today’s blog. Then I remembered that there was an excellent snack which I’d brought from town. Blotanical is so delightful I forget to eat my goodies, that’s quite amazing.
All gardening friends are invited to check it out. Its a safe, well-lit place for the plant oriented people. Welcome!