Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

Well, yesterday we had a great anniversary dinner. 12 years sure makes for some great memories!

If you haven't been able to tell, I'm breaking up my posts EG style.  There was so much going on that it would have been a jumble for one post, so you get shorter, more focused posts for the whole week.  I hope you like this approach better.  Makes it easier to write, that's for sure.

Today will finish up my potato bin story to-date.  That way it's all together.  Yesterday I built the beds, that was actually Saturday.  Sunday was taking advantage of the nice weather to plant the beds. 

First though, I had a bit of a compost issue.  I had two bins in the house that were full of greens, with minimal browns.  Needless to say opening the lids was a bit odorific.  So, before I did any planting, I wanted to get my compost bin flipped and added to.  No, not last year's, that's finished, I mean my mini-pile for this year.

What I added was three rotting, molding pumpkins from fall, a bunch of stale tortilla chips, some rotten bananas, and a ton of kitchen scraps, with some napkins etc. thrown in for a bit of browns.  Add that to a bunch of Starbuck's grounds and my larger uncomposted scraps from last year and you get a tiny pile that heated up awful quickly.

Then I borrowed my neighbor's screen to screen some finished compost for the potato planting.  Nothing like fresh compost for providing nutrients for the base.

When I was doing this, what didn't go through the screen went into the other pile.  Pretty cool huh?  Soon I had enough compost to add to my Mel's Mix base to plant the potatoes.  Speaking of potatoes, did I show you the seed potato storage box from last year?  Well, here is what's happened since the potatoes started sprouting.  I watched the lid open all by itself.

Notice the one vine reaching for the sky and sprouting some leaves?  Keep an eye on that one.  Yeah, I think it's probably way past time to plant these.  See what's inside that box...

Spaghetti!  Hehe.  Thanks to DoubleD for looking up what to do at a point like this.  Of course I could have done the research, but for some reason I thought she'd know off the top of her head.  Bless her heart for looking it up.  Apparently the solution is to carefully plant them as-is rather than break them off and let new sprouts form.  So I spent about an hour to plant individual potatoes, separating them from the tangled mess of paper and plant.

Here's the materials all laid out, ready to plant.

After I laid down about a 3 inch bed of Mel's Mix, I sprinkled about a cup of 5-10-10 slow release veggie fertilizer and a light cover of fresh sifted compost from my wheel barrow.  Then I gently laid out my seed potatoes.

Yeah I didn't worry if some paper got left in there. It will compost over time no problem.  Also, do you see how shriveled some of those seed potatoes are?  They've given up the ghost, so I'm glad I have fine nutrients there to give them what they need to grow... I hope.  If not, I know the local nursery had seed potatoes if I need to replace these.  Or I have a whole box of replacement seed (if these work and anyone wants some from the local area, you're more than welcome to them).

On top of these, I added a bit of Mel's Mix and a bunch of aged compost.  Look how happy they are in their well watered new digs!

Look closely, can you spot the little leaves?  Those are the only things I left uncovered.  It only seemed right to let them finally find dirt and light at the same time. hehe

Of course, now that I'm writing this, I get a post on my Potato Bin page saying that if you want big potatoes to harvest to plant big potato seed.  That makes logical sense, but now I'm showing how little I know about gardening (Psst, you don't need to know much to succeed).  Now that person has got me wondering if I should dig up (not hard to do) what I planted and re-plant the potatoes that I had stored for eating that sprouted?  I could certainly do that, but all the seed companies send out small seed potatoes.  Now I'm confused...  Thoughts?

Anyway, after I planted my potatoes, I of course had to take advantage of the great weather to let the seedlings out for their daily exercise.  This time the sun found them playing on the kid's climber.

Don't you think I should do something about those monster tomatoes?  Well, I priced out the obtained materials for all the self watering containers that we're going to build this coming weekend.  Can you believe my price shopping got us down to $22.11 each!  Yep, that includes everything but the dirt and plants, hehe. Well, I didn't buy any of the fancy connectors for the tomato cages like Raybo uses on his Earthtainers (TM), but it seemed to work just poking them into the dirt last year.  The trellis does most of the work anyway.

Stay tuned for the continuing saga of Sinfonian's garden adventure! (hehe)

Enjoy your garden!


  1. I'm new to SFG and just found your blog yesterday. I really enjoyed your long post on the potato bin - the one showing the year's progress.

  2. Your compost look great. I am having sort of the same problem as EG. Pine needles, except I didn't add them myseof. My pile sits under a huge pine tree. I will have to find another location. I love you potato bins. I have told many people about them. I also wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog.

  3. Hasn't the weather been great this week? I guess we're in for cold weather and storms by the weekend, though. But it was nice to get outside and actually get some planting/building done at last. Your compost looks so nice. I failed Composting 101 again last year, but this year I have leaves, so will give it another try.


  4. Hmmm... looking at those long potato sprouts laying out like that, I wonder if that might increase your potato production without any binning or mounding. I mean, you've already got the extra stem length you want, just horizontal instead of vertical.
    Are those last year's potato harvest you're planting this year? If so, that could be a bad idea as viruses accumulate from year to year without getting sterile, tissue-cultured seeds. So I've read, but I don't really have any experience to back that up.

  5. engineeredgardenApril 8, 2009 at 2:37 AM

    Your compost looks good, man! No pine needles!!!! Speaking of potatoes, I think a few of my plants were lost to the sub-freezing temps...Boo!


  6. Don'T believe the small/large seed potato lore. I have been planting the smallest seed potatoes for years and have had some fantastic results. I plant them hole through with no roting.


  7. I think I might have to copy that compost screen that your neighbor has, that is one fine looking gardening tool!

    Your potatoes sprouts look pretty wicked, I don't think the sprouts will cause any problems. I think I was already telling that my Dad used to plant them like that all the time. I won't buy into the whole big potato producing a bigger harvest, sound a bit like a male ego thing...

    You did some really good shopping to get the self watering containers down to just over 20 bucks. I have heard a few times that they can end up costing a small fortune.

  8. Been saving my own seed potatoes for years and it works fine. If your patch does not have disease and you don't introduce it to the patch by accident (new potatoes carrying disease) - then it is perfectly fine to save, store, and use the potatoes for next year's seed stock. If you are going to add new potato varieties then definitely buy certified seed stock to protect your current beds from introduced disease.

    The large potato comment does not ring true for me - at least based on my own experiences.

  9. Holy cow Sinf! You will definitely have tomatoes before July 4th! Time for a really nice loaf of bread and some lettuce.