In the Garden: Planting Potatoes and Hidden Gold

This week we finally got around to planting 15 lbs of potatoes.  A little late this year, but we did eventually get it done.  We got three varieties this year – Pontiac, Kennebec, and La Soda.  We didn’t till the soil this year (tiller has a flat tire, among other problems), but ran the chickens over where the rye was planted to try to work the soil a bit.  We’re cultivating the top left side of the garden for the first time, and it’s more sand than soil at this point.  I went through (with gloves) and pulled out the blackberries, some of which had enormous roots.  Then we used a shovel to hack through the tough turf of dormant broomsedge roots and carefully tuck the potato chunks into the ground.  It was a lot of work close to the ground, and we went home that night smelling of earth and milk.  Once the potatoes sprout, I will use some organic fertilizer and the Desert Dynamin clay because the soil is so poor, and heavily mulch them with the cow’s trampled hay.
Last year I made the usual “layer cake” permaculture beds to plant potatoes in, but pests like earwigs and massive pill bugs ate holes in them.  This year I am growing all my root crops – yuca and sweet potatoes, too – with just a big dollop of mulch.

I also planted some turmeric.  I have grown it before in our yard in town, and I love having fresh turmeric to add to the winter ferments, for the flavor and the immune-supporting benefits.  The color of the inside of the roots (or are they technically modified stems, like onions and ginger?) is striking.

There have been many beautiful salads eaten this week – I’m so glad to have so much lettuce growing now – really all because of Forage Farm’s lettuce trials.  I never used to like eating big green salads this time of year when the weather can be chilly, but I have really enjoyed it this year.  I’m planning a big lettuce bed next year – and hopefully I can save seed from the varieties I’m already growing.

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