Saturday, March 9, 2013

Potato Planting Insanity

Our helpers dug too!
As we enter our fourth (can it really be the fourth?) year of planting potatoes at Purgatory Ranch, the situation has changed.  (Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3) Since James and I now live within miles of P.R., driving out is much less of a trial.  However, since we moved, all our potatoes that had been saved for seed were exposed to extreme heat this summer in the moving van, and they were a tangled, vine-y mess.  See what I mean?

I always intended to snap off the sprouts earlier in the winter but never got to it.  Famous last words, right?  So this year, we opted to purchase some seed potatoes and sort through this mess to see what might survive planting.  Since last year we actually had a pretty decent yield from our over-sprouted potatoes, why not again?

I had two buckets and five boxes to sort.  All the small potatoes were pretty well exhausted, so I tossed them into the compost bin.  However, even after discarding all those, I had 35.5 pounds of potatoes (and sprouts) to plant. Add to that the potatoes my dad purchased, and we are well on our way to another record year.

Then, there is always the challenge of calendar.  We received two feet of snow not so long ago, and was the ground still saturated?  James and Dan work opposite schedules.  Myle was caring for a neighbor's children.  I have an almost-newborn.  Spring break is coming and we both had plans that would prevent potato planting by March 17.  Then, the kicker, for me... it was supposed to rain all day this Saturday, meaning the ground would be (God willing: we need rain) saturated, so I couldn't plant in the coming week.

This is the insanity part.  I made plans to plant the potatoes by myself, with three of the kids.  It's a good thing I had a friend offer to help.  In preparation, I cut up several of the bags of seed potatoes.  After toting up my pounds of seed potatoes, I opted to leave the bags of Red Norland and Yukon Gold uncut for a future planting scramble, as I felt confident we had no business planting 81.5 pounds of potatoes alone.

90 minutes later, we had this:

The north bed is almost entirely full.  My friend had a giant blister, and JoJo was complaining of the wind, even well-sheltered in the Moby wrap.  I consoled myself that even if it rained, we had the lion's share planted.  On our way home, the rain started.

Meanwhile, James' plans of building chicken tractors after school fell through.  Upon learning said information, I wildly suggested we plant the rest of the potatoes.  Right now.  As in, throw the kids in the car, scoop up the cut potatoes, and take on the rain, which had stopped momentarily.

This year, we left most of the south bed empty of potatoes.  We have planted potatoes in this bed every year and are risking disease buildup.  So, the only part of the south bed used was the section planted in onions last year.  It received the remaining Red Norland and Yukon Gold that didn't make the first cut.  This was accomplished in 30 wild minutes (wild, because we had four kids with us) of James digging holes, my tossing potatoes, and the girls burying.

And... Done!  All the potatoes are buried in the ground, and I'm off the crazy potato planting hook for another year... (We shouldn't think about the garden that is planned for Yahweh Jireh Acres)

Final totals:
Type Pounds Source Rows (from the north)
Russet Burkbank 5 seed 3
All Blue 7 saved 5
Kennebec 4 saved 4
2 seed
Purple Viking 5.5 saved 2
Dakota Pearl/Crisp 12 saved 13
14.5 seed
Red Norland 7 saved 3
12.5 seed
Yukon Gold 12 seed


If that's not as clear as mud, just ask.  We planted 81.5 pounds of potatoes.  The rows are for my reference in July, when I can't remember what's what.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing and insane! I love your planting adventures and can't wait to do a little of our own someday!