Our 2022 garden: potatoes, strawberries and sunchokes

We had a lovely, warm and sunny day.

That meant, time to catch up as much as possible in the garden!

My main goal was to get the potatoes in, since the beds for these were all prepped and ready.

The first ones were from the 1kg package; Caribe.

There just happened to be exactly 20 potatoes in the 1kg package, so this bed got 2 rows of 10 potatoes. For each one, I dug into the mulch to the cardboard below – which was very wet, from all the rain we’ve had since this bed was prepped! – cut an X into it and pulled it back, added a potato so that it was in contact with the ground below, then covered it with a couple of scoops of garden soil.

For this bed, I followed up with a watering, to settle in the soil, then covered each spot very lightly with some straw.

Then it was time to do the 5kg potatoes.

The first ones I did were the Bridget. They were planted the same way as the Caribe, though it wasn’t as easy, while having to walk on top of the straw mulch! I also didn’t bother covering them with straw after the soil was added. The hardest part was cutting through the cardboard. Some of those boxed were made of a very heady duty cardboard, and even while soaking wet, it was hard to get through. Which will be excellent for weed suppression, so it’s worth the extra effort.

It’s a lot longer doing it this way, then the first time we grew potatoes the Ruth Stout way. We didn’t have any cardboard, so the potatoes were laid out on the ground, then simply covered with straw. They did okay, but weeds got through the straw mulch as well as the potatoes. This time, we have a thick layer of cardboard, so that should take care of that problem, but it does make it more tedious! It would have been easier if I could kneel down. A lot of head rushes from being bent down so much!

This morning, I checked the tracking for our shrubs and trees, and they were ready for pick up, two days early! By the time I finished planting the Bridget potatoes, it was past 2pm, which is when the post office reopens after lunch break, so I headed out.

Wow.

All that rain we’ve been having, and the road is washed out right at the patch from before – and this is after the water has gone down quite a bit. There’s actually 2 washed out areas. Not as bad as before, though, and I’ll be able to get through with my mother’s car tomorrow, when I had to take her to her doctor’s appointment.

What I forgot, however, was that today was Wednesday.

The store the post office is in, closes at noon on Wednesdays.

Hopefully, the order hasn’t thawed out yet, and they’ll be fine. With tomorrow’s appointment, I am hoping to be able to pick them up after I’m done with my mother’s medical appointment, but it’s hard to say right now.

Not getting to the post office wasn’t a wasted trip, since I did at least confirm the roads are passable.

Once at home, it was back to work.

The next potatoes to do where the All Blue.

This time, I had a daughter able to come out and help. With the Bridget potatoes, with the larger potatoes being cut into smaller pieces, there was a total of 67 to plant, so I had 6 rows of 10 and 1 row of seven.

Having the potatoes chitting in egg trays makes it easy to count them. The flats hold 30, and the carton holds 18, plus extras in the lid. There were 81 in total, so I made 8 rows of 10, with two little ones planted together.

Here are both beds of potatoes done. I have bamboo stakes marking where the potato rows end. These beds are the size of the traps that we lay on the ground to start killing off the grass and weeds. The Bridget potatoes took up half the bed, while the All Blue took up just over half of the second bed. That means we have space to transplant into, in the rest.

While my older daughter and I were working on that, my other daughter worked on the strawberries.

This area is where we had potatoes in grow bags, last year. The soil they grew in was used to create this new bed. I was thinking of planting some of the sweet potato slips here, but we’ll put all of them in grow bags now, so this one can be for the white strawberries.

It needed a bit of weeding, then my daughter planted the white strawberries, which had 10 root stocks in the package. They are lightly mulched for now, and will get more mulch after they have grown fairly large.

She also planted the red strawberries.

I’ve read the strawberries and asparagus grow well together, so they went into the purple asparagus bed. This had a heavy straw mulch which got pulled off completely. After finding where the asparagus were (you can see some of them in the photo; the heavy mulch blanched them somewhat), my daugher weeded around them as best she could, then transplanted the strawberries where she could be sure that no asparagus would be growing through them.

One of the strawberries has already started blooming!

The bed got mulched with wood shavings, then some of the old straw mulch got places around it, partly to keep the weeds down, partly to hold the soil in place, and partly because the soil around the bed is so buddy. It will get more mulch later on.

After all the potato planting, I was tired, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to do one more.

The bed next to the asparagus was planted with strawberry spinach last year, but all we got was weeds. I pulled as many of those as I could, then grabbed the package of sunchokes.

It was a package of 10, with some of them quite large, and others being just little nubbings!

Some were starting to sprout already.

These got planted at a depth of 3-4 inches.

They also got a layer of wood shavings for mulch, and the rest of the old straw mulch from the asparagus and strawberry bed got placed around the sunchoke bed. For this spot, not only was the surrounding soil muddy, there was standing water in places!

These beds are planted with things that can be largely ignored. The sunchokes can be treated as a perennial, depending on how we harvest them, and need little care and maintenance. We hope to propagate the strawberries over time but, for now, we can allow their runners to spread a bit, around the asparagus. We’ve got two more years before we can harvest any asparagus, so the whole bed is pretty low maintenance right now.

It’s supposed to start raining lightly tonight, then all through tomorrow. If I’m able to pick up the trees on the way home from my mother’s, we might get them in right away, even in the rain. It depends on whether they’re still frozen or not. We also need to get the grow bags ready for the sweet potato slips, which really need to be planted soon. We might be getting a rained on a bit, tomorrow!

Over the next few days, we are expected to warm up, but the overnight lows are still expected to be just above freezing. That will give us time to prep a few more beds, though we could start transplanting some things, as long as we include something to protect them from the chill nights. The heavy mulch in the beds the potatoes are in will also help protect anything we transplant into them.

There is still so much to do! But I’m glad that we at least had today to catch up a bit.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Eagle Creek potatoes are here!

Oh, I am so happy! The potatoes we ordered from Eagle Creek have arrived!

I appreciate their sense of humour!

As for the growing directions, for most of them, we’re doing the Ruth Stout deep mulching, so we won’t be hilling them. We specifically chose determinate varieties with that in mind. You can read about what we ordered, and why, at this post.

After doing battle with the remarkably strong bag and metal staples (I ended up having to cut it open! LOL), we had our three varieties.

The one kilogram bag of Caribe potatoes is 2.2 pounds, and the 5kg bags of Bridget and All Blue are 11 pounds each, so we’re looking at just over 24 pounds of potatoes here. 🙂

They’ve already started to sprout!

These are all the Caribe potatoes in the 1kg bag. There’s actually more of them than I thought there would be. Though we could split some of the larger ones, I’m not going to bother. These could be planted right now, if we wanted.

Here are the All Blue. There were quite a few large ones, so they got cu smaller, and will need a few days for the cuts to dry before planting them.

Here are all the Bridget potatoes. A fair number of them got cut smaller, too.

The Bridget and All Blue potatoes are meant for the two heavily mulched beds we just finished. While they are left to chit and the cut edges to dry, we will give the straw mulch repeated soakings with the hose. Hopefully, between that and the rain we’re supposed to be getting, off and on, for the next while, the straw will get good and moist, and keep the layer of carboard under it moist as well.

Now we have to decide where the Caribe potatoes will go. With how many potatoes there turned out to be, the spot I was thinking off will not be large enough. Perhaps these will do well in that low raised bed that we need to finish filling.

Finishing that bed will be a job for tomorrow, then.

The Re-Farmer

Our 2022 garden: Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes order placed!

I wasn’t going to be able to place another order for our garden until next month’s budget, but thanks to my daughter, we now have our potatoes ordered!

While I was very happy with the potatoes we ordered from Vesey’s, we went with a new company this time – one that I have added to our Cold Climate Seed Sources list.

Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes is in Red Deer County, Alberta, so we can be pretty sure that anything we order from there will grow in our Zone 3 area. It was a company recommended in one of the cold climate gardening groups I’m on, and I really wish I’d discovered them earlier! Not only to they provide a lot of information on each variety of potato they carry, they even have a container and tower pack. That would have been very handy, for when we grew potatoes in feed bags, before we knew that potatoes came in determinate and indeterminate varieties!

This year, however, we are going to use our potato plantings to reclaim more garden space, and will be using the Ruth Stout method again.

These are the potatoes we ordered, to be delivered in May (they let you choose your delivery date range), since our last frost date is early June. They can be ordered as 4 packs, 1 kg or 5 kg sizes (1 kg = 2.2 pounds), and some are available in 14 kg bags.

All images belong to Eagle Creek. All links will open in new tabs.

Caribe.

This is an early maturing variety, though it’s said that they can get quite large if left until late in the season. We ordered these in a smaller, 1kg (2.2 pound) package, to stay under budget. They are listed as having excellent winter storage, and described as making the fluffiest mashed potatoes ever! 😀

Bridget.

This is a medium maturing variety (though the description also lists it as early maturing) with good yields in most soil types, good winter storage and good disease resistance. They are noted as being particularly good for making French fries, though that’s not something we normally do. They are also a good baking or mashing potato. We ordered this in the 5kg size.

All Blue.

Well, we just had to include a purple potato!!! This is a late maturing variety with great winter storage, and is good with pretty much any cooking method. We ordered this in the 5kg size.

Last year, we ordered 4 varieties in 6 pound packs, for 24 pounds of seed potatoes. We got a pretty good return on them, though nowhere near enough to store any for winter. This time, we’re getting about the same weight in 3 varieties.

As we are planning to use the Ruth Stout method again, we’ll have to be pro-active in combating snails. Our first year growing potatoes left us with soil that was much more workable when we converted the space into beds for onions and carrots. We pretty much doubled the length of the beds, and when we were harvesting and preparing the beds for the fall, we could really tell the difference in the soil between the two halves! Where the potatoes were grown previously, the garden fork easily sunk deep into the soil, but in the extended portion, once the fork got through the new soil we added on top of the beds, it was like hitting a hard floor beneath.

When we grew potatoes that first year, the only thing we had available for mulch was straw. It’s what we can get, so that’s what we will be using again this year. This time we can run the straw through the shredder chute on our wood chipper, first, so it will cover better and break down faster.

As far as quantities go, unless these all turn out to have amazingly high yields, this is not going to be enough to last us into the winter. Which is okay, because these are new varieties we are trying out. Over time, once we’ve worked out what grows best here, and which ones we like the most, we will get larger quantities of seed potatoes and, hopefully, be able to have enough to plant our own potatoes every year, instead of having to buy seed potatoes. At least, that’s the long term goal for the bulk of our potato growing. I suspect we will continue to try new and different varieties regularly, simply because we like trying new things!

One more item for our 2022 garden to check off our list!

The Re-Farmer