The sun was out, the temp was up, the wind was still and I was in the mood. It is time to get those spuds in the ground, people. Time to roll-back the winter blanket and prepare the ground. On the pic below, you can see the "winter blanket" rolled back on the foreground, the exposed soil and in the distance, the min-tilled soil.--One can see all three stages. Once the soil had been exposed it was time to min-till the soil. Many of the oldtimers on here know that I do not turn my soil....dig the soil. Rather, I minimally till my soil. A simple process whereby one sinks the fork into the soil (see her dainty foot at work). Once the fork is in all the way, you push the handle downwards towards yourself so that the soil "fractures" and lifts, letting oxygen into the soil. Then bring the handle back, straight up and twist right and left as you withdraw it--that's min-tilling. The min-tilling did cause a bit of panic underground and like the pitter-patter of rain--the worms were driven up and out of their lovely subterranean accommodation. Here are two of the fleeing Annelids. There were so many earthworms in the soil that I frequently got up to take the largest ones to the compost bins. I felt like a "Dances-With-Worms" character. They were just everywhere. The next phase was to make the furrows with my little hand plough. Once all the furrows were "ploughed", my bride scooped out the bottoms of the furrows which would receive the 4-year old stall manure. The layer was shallow and just enough to give the spuds a good start--not that they really need it, as I find our soil rich enough as it is. You can perhaps see that these furrows are only half full--we filled them in two stages. Now then, in the bottom of the trench-like furrow I will make holes with a tulip bulb planter and in the seed potato's will go. A little bit of back-filling and then we will just wait until the first "mouse ear-like leaves break through the soil's surface. There will be a little celebration that day. We will just keep covering those tender leaves over when night frost is forecast. True earthing-ups we will do twice thereafter. I decide year-by-year if a side dressing is necessary.--it's a "feeling", not based on any specific climatic conditions. This involved technique must seem like a lot of extra work to many folks, but we are used to it and feel it well worth the hard graft; because, as you know the potato tubers are formed not on the seed potato, but on the stems that it sends upwards...so, the longer the up-shoot is, the more space for tubers to form--the greater the harvest. See how that works? Here is our potato patch then, next to the broad bean patch in the foreground. The blueberry patch with the little white tulips are in the background.