Trial and Error

These are the other members of the Seedsavers Group I’m a part of – Francoise, Kate and Adele with Rosie standing in the front, and Francoise holding …..  This was obviously taken before the cold set in! The great thing about our group is that we meet every Wednesday and share gardening notes, seeds and, as often as possible, actually plant out containers of seed. Another great thing is that we share our trials and errors … with potatoes, for example, we all planted at vastly different times and have now been able to compare notes.

Adele, for example, decided to experiment and put her potatoes in much earlier than the usual suggested spring planting. She did, in fact, plant them in mid July, which is right in the middle of winter. She was thrilled to harvest them in December! A growing season of 4 1/2 months.

Kate planted her potatoes in October, the usual time suggested, and harvested them in the first week of February. A growing season of 4 months, or just over.

I, through dreadful mismanagement rather than deliberate design, didn’t plant my potatoes until mid January (check out my January 6 blog) when they looked like this:

I really didn’t deserve to get any sort of result but, in fact, today I harvested the best potato crop I’ve ever had … over 200 potatoes so far and I’m only one third of the way through! It’s been 5 months but, judging by how big many of them are, I could have harvested them earlier. I was too frightened to look before now because I assumed they wouldn’t have worked ….

What I’ve learnt from this is that you could easily grow enough potatoes for a year’s supply if you staggered the plantings … there’s really technically only one month where you don’t have potatoes in the ground – harvesting at the beginning of the frost season ensures they don’t rot! I would undoubtedly have had a bigger crop if I’d planted earlier but the good thing to know is that even if you think you’ve missed potato planting time you actually do have a much bigger window than you might have thought – from July through to February!

I’m also thrilled because the potatoes I harvested today were in the same bed as those from last year and they are, thankfully, disease free. I’m definitely planting in a different bed later this year though – no point tempting fate!

I also harvested Yacon or Peruvian Ground Apples which I used for dinner.

Sliced some up in a lime juice salad and cooked some with carrots and beans. They’re delicious. The salad also included red mustard, rocket and sorrel out of the garden….and, of course, tonight

we had potatoes out of the garden too.

Today I also cut back a large shrub that’s shading the beds I made out of an old watertanks I got on Freecycle. I’m going to use the branches to grow peas on and to make mulch for paths.

My political action was a quick one because I’ve been out digging potatoes all day, but one I’m going to spend more time on next week …. I signed a petition calling for feed in tarrifs for solar power … click here to sign. The NSW Government is also still deciding whether to go with a gross or a net feed in tarrif …. time to lobby some more.

3 thoughts on “Trial and Error

  1. mountainwildlife

    I have potato envy!! Mine were a dismal failure… I tried a ‘cage’ system and a built up no-dig style. I kept hilling up around loads of lovely green foliage- but when it died off- NOTHING underneath! Definitely in the soil next time- more likey to suceed.

  2. Rose

    That’s really interesting about when to plant them. I’m an eratic gardener and love potatoes so now I won’t hesitate to just plant when I think of it or have time . Thanks for the info

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