Archive | April 2012

Trash Can Potatoes

I don’t plan on doing any “how-to” posts on here, but just writing down my garden stories once in a week or so.  But there wasn’t much new going on in the garden this week, so I think I put down how I put together my trash can potatoes.  I can’t remember where I saw this idea first, but I think its brilliant.  When grown in the ground, potato plants are grown in big mounds.  The seed potatoes are planted and as the plant grows the stalk is buried and reburied  to increase production.  This works because the tubers of the potatoes aren’t actually roots, but come off of the stem.  So as more of the stem gets buried, more potatoes will grow from it.  Some people use bags or buckets, but I really liked the idea of trashcans as they are larger and so should provide a higher yield.

So I order 2.5 pounds of Yellow Finn seed potatoes from SSEto be delivered around the end of March.  From what I understand, potatoes enjoy warm weather but a frost shouldn’t do much damage so there isn’t too much risk in getting them planted early.  The trashcan actually help as they are black and will soak up the sun’s heat and keep the container warmer.  So once they arrived I had already picked up the trashcans, some straw, 4 bags of topsoil, and 2 bags of compost.  In concept its basically just like setting up some very large planting containers, so the first thing to do is drill a bunch of 1/2 inch holes in the bottom of each can for drainage.  Next you should move the cans to where you plan for them to stay because they will get heavy really quickly (I overlooked this step) and add a layer of drainage material.  I used landscape rocks that have been laying in some of the beds and still need to be gotten rid of.

Rocks in the Trash can

I’ve seen a few different ideas on what type of growing medium to use.  I’ve heard of people using pure topsoil, pure compost and one place I saw used only straw to grow his potatoes, so I decided to add a bit of all three.  I started with a layer of straw for additional drainage.

First layer of straw

Then some compost and topsoil was added, a couple of inches into each can.  I used two bags of topsoil and one bag of compost.

1st layer of compost and soil added

Then you simply add the potatoes.  Some people add the potatoes whole, but some of the ones I got were pretty good sized, so I cut them up making sure to have at least two eyes on each piece.  Then I left them out for about 24hours so the cuts dried out a bit.  Then I placed them in the soil with the cut side down.

Potatoes planted

Then just add another couple of inches of soil on top.

Soil on top of potatoes

Congratulations you’ve planted potatoes.  Now all you can do is water and wait.  In about a month the cans loo like this.

Top Growth after a month

Once these guys get to be about 7-8 inches in height I’ll add enough soil to only leave about 1-2 inches of growth visible.    I’ve got three set up and I’m hoping to get about 10-15lbs of potatoes from each one.

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Earth Day 2012

So it is April 22, 2012, Earth Day.  The day to remind us about our impact on Spaceship Earth and hopefully gets us to do a couple of things to reduce our impact on the world around us.  So today I spent most of my time outside working on the garden.  I planted out the cucumbers, which was badly needed as they were starting to flower in their 4 inch pots.  I also planted the melon and squash seedlings into the ground as they were also bursting at the seems.  The pumpkins were put into larger pots as I don’t have their permanent home ready yet.  I also transplanted enough tomato seedlings to fill the tomato bed, which brought up one more problem.  I have way too many tomato seedlings.

I’ve got a least 2 dozen extra tomato seedlings and nowhere to plant them.  Most of them are already too big for their current containers.  I was able to move six to quart sized containers, but I can’t keep it up forever.  So I’m going to have to find some people to take them off my hands.  I guess this kind of a problem is good problem to have.

ITS HARVEST SEASON!!! 🙂  At least it is for the colder weather plants.  I’ve harvested nearly a pound of lettuce leaves and almost 2 pounds of radishes with their greens in the last two weeks or so.

Purple Plum Radishes washed and ready to eat

I’ve also went and bought three cattle panels.  Now I live in the city so keeping livestock is out, but these things make great trellises.  As you can see from the pictures, they are rods of galvanized steel welded together.  They are light, strong and relatively cheap.  They generally go for around $20 for a panel that is 16ft long and 50in high.  I cut each panel in half (which is pretty easy with bolt cutters) so the three 16ft panels are now six  8ft panels. My problem was transporting them home.  I don’t have a truck, only a PT Cruiser.  Eventually with the help of one of the employees from the store, we got all six panels in my little car.  Four of these panels are going to be used for the bean trellis.  The cucumbers will receive one and the melons will get the other. 

I have hopes of getting a few more in the future for pea trellises, but that would be a project for next year.  There are some really neat things people do with cattle panels.  They are flexible enough to bend pretty easily, but stiff enough to hold up for quite a while.

This post is way overdue

It has been way to long since my last post, so I’m going to listen to some music and update all y’all on whats blooming.  The vegetable garden has had only one hiccup.  We had been having temperatures in the 50 degrees to 70 degrees  with lows in the upper 30s at the coldest.  Well then the other week we had a real cold snap (actually it simply returned to normal April temperatures) and it frosted pretty heavily.  I got the potted plants inside, but the beans that were sowed in the ground didn’t make it.  I picked up some more seed to reseed in about two weeks on account of another couple of cold nights coming up later this week. But the other veggies are doing well.  The peas, lettuce, and radishes are loving this cool weather and some of the pea plants are about a foot tall.  I also started the trash can potatoes, but that’ll have to wait for another post

If I remember correctly, in my last post I said I’d add pictures of the blueberry and currant bushes I bought.  So there they are.  I also planted a thyme plant in amongst the berry bushes as a useful ground cover.

Thyme, all I need now is parsley, sage and rosemary

And now for something completely different, the tulips have bloomed.

Striped Tulip

Close up of the striped tulip

Orange Tulip

I also bought three bee balms and a purple loosestrife.  These are all supposed to be good plants for attracting butterflies and good insects, but the main reason I bought them was this…

My favorite type of plant

Lastly I’d like to thank Kevin from Nitty Gritty Dirt Man for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I’ve read the requirements and I’m going to try and get a post up for it.

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