The Spud Ritual

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by Sjoerd, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    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.
    spuds11b.jpg

    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).
    spuds11.jpg

    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.
    spuds11a.jpg

    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.
    spuds9.jpg

    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.
    spudsa.jpg

    spuds11c.jpg

    spuds.jpg

    Once all the furrows were "ploughed", my bride scooped out the bottoms of the furrows which would receive the 4-year old stall manure.
    spuds11e.jpg

    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.
    spuds11d.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
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  3. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    what lovely looking soil you have there S. I wish I could get a garden full of that here. I keep amending, but that is years worth of work you have there. Your spuds will be fabulous when they are harvested. I am trying all blue and 3 fingerling varieties this year... if I can get them in the garden soon. I am already 2 weeks late.
     
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  4. Tooty2shoes

    Tooty2shoes Hardy Maple

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    Oh my. What fantastic looking soil. I will have to try that type of Min-tilling when I start planting. But that won't be for another month or more. Temp's here where in the mid 30 degrees.:( I would love some of that composted poo for my soil. What lucky worms. A great place to call home.
     
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  5. marlingardener

    marlingardener Happy

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    I NEED a hand plough! I've been using the edge of my hoe, but that plough looks much more efficient. Your soil is beautiful--no wonder everyone is envious (don't you just love a forum where folks go into ecstasies over dirt?).
     
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  6. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Ahh there's nothing like that black gold of yours Sjoerd - neither wonder you have such a good crop each year. I just know your potatoes are going to thrive for you.
     
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  7. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Thanks so much CAROLYN--I sure do work hard on my soil. It takes up the majority of time and attention because it is the basis for growing good crops and plants. I hope that you can get your tatties in the ground soon. What are the names of your fingerling's this year?

    Thank you 2T--I wish you good luck with min-tilling. It will be a new technique for you and I hope that your ground will allow it. It is easy for me to min-till because I amend it and keep it soft.
    I wish that you could get hold of some composted poo as well. It is some of the best stuff one can use on their ground.

    JANE-- http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-old-rusty-plough-image7268248
    Those hand plough's are hard to find. I would expect at an antique dealer. They may also be called a "ridging tool".
    Yes, I sure do like a place where folks go a little crazy about dirt.

    Thanks EILEEN--I am proud that the soil is doing well. My fingers are crossed for the spuds.
     
  8. mart

    mart Strong Ash

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    https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=push+plow+pic

    Hey MG ,,Just find an old fashioned push plow. keep the sweeps good and sharp and it will get the job done in short order

    Sjoerd, are those worms as long as they look ? I need some of those. I could fish a long time on just one worm..
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
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  9. KK Ng

    KK Ng Hardy Maple

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    Looking at your photos and talking about potatoes, remind me of the wonderful time we had in Belgium harvesting potatoes. It was like digging for treasure and every potato appearing from the ground is just ... WOW!!! Before we only get to see potatoes on the shelves of supermarket and provision shops. It was really a fun time.
    Your soil is really delicious!
     
  10. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    MART--Those ploughs look good. Jane would the the talk of the town with one of those. Yes, those worms really were that long, but of course they were crawling away...so they were stretched out. When I picked them up, they recoiled naturally and were half that size--still a respectable size though. The first worms were seen when my bride was min-tilliing the patch and I was off lugging a couple bags of that well-rotted stall manure ...and she cried out, "Sjoerd, come here quickly...there's a snake crawling around"! I dropped the sack and ran to the rescue....It was just an old worm though hahaha. Well, to be fair, she doesn't become easily excited, so I was well curious.
    As you what saw in the foto--those two worms were stretched way out as they were trying to get away from the disturbance of the ground work. It's the same thing each year. After a winter, protected under all that mulch, the soil is teaming with them when we go to loosen it up a bit..

    KK--Yes, I know that feeling. It is sort of like panning for gold. Such a surprise to see how many spuds and how large...and wondering if I got them all. The thing is that often we say that we'll just dig up one plant for ~three meals...but success with one plant often leads to lifting a second one...and then a third one...and so it goes. It is difficult to stop. hahaha. We can always find a reason to harvest just one more plant.
     
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  11. Droopy

    Droopy Slug Slaughterer Plants Contributor

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    And in they go! I hope your taters appreciate your hard work and give you a hefty yield. We're lucky if we can plant potatoes on May 1st.
     
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  12. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Thanks for your comments, Droopy. It is sad to hear that you will not be planting until so late in the year. How are the ponies?
     
  13. mart

    mart Strong Ash

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    Sjoerd,, do you dig the entire plant if you just want potatoes for one meal ? We do not dig the plant until the growing season is over. If we want new potatoes for a meal we just take a few from two or three plants and leave the rest to grow.
     
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  14. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    It goes like this , Mart--when we think that three may be some tubers (around the time that they have been blooming for a while) we burrow underneath the plant to check on the size of the tubers. Sometimes we take a few (just for the taste, you understand;)).

    When we want to eat a normal meal, then up comes the whole plant and we can usually eat from that three times, depending on the spud sort.

    We do not do large scale plant lifting until the plants have bloomed out and are beginning to yellow and the haulms fall over. Later in the season we typically take out 3-7 plants at the time and as we empty a row, we immediately plant a green manure.

    How fast we harvest depends upon if the spuds get Phytophthora or not. Once that is noticed off comes the foliage and then we leave them sit in the ground until there is time to have a marathon spud-lifting and all are pulled out at once and placed in storage.

    That is how we do it--a bit chaotic and determined by weather, plant sickness and our own greediness.
     
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  15. mart

    mart Strong Ash

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    Ah,,Ha ! Same as we do here then. Except the green manure Worst thing we have is those pesky potato bugs.
     
  16. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    We have great luck that we do not have potato bugs. What are they? Are they like lily beetles but then for potato's?
    I hope that I will be able to plant my spuds in the ground tomorrow, but the forecast is for rain. BAH !
     

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