What have I been doing?

I’ve been busy in the garden! It is ALMOST  finished. I have 8 more tomatoes to plant tomorrow that I forgot to get that are some of my standards at the SF Farmer’s Market. OPPS! But they will be ready in time.

Two weekends ago I had 7 friends/family help with planting the majority of the tomatoes. A great big THANK YOU to all that helped-Elodie, Flynn, Ronnie, Lava, Tom, Sharon and myself! I couldn’t have done it without you! I also have a few more flower seeds to plant by the entry. Otherwise it’s done-FINITO! Yea right-there is always something to do in the garden! Here are some of the things happening in the garden:

The fava beans are looking good. Here they are flowering. I like the black and white flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen black and white flowers on a plant before. They had some aphids so I sprayed them with insecticidal soap and they are looking better. They have baby fava beans on them now.

The beets and carrots are coming along quite nicely. They are outside the pole bean tent area and will fill in nicely

Here are some beet greens I harvested while thinning out the beets to give them room to grow. They are yummy in a salad and are so beautiful.

In the shadiest part of the garden I planted some bok choi and lettuce and have had it covered with row cover since planting to help keep them from the heat and bugs. They both are looking great. I’ve never grown bok choi before so I’ll have to research when to harvest as they are getting to be pretty big and won’t like the heat for too long.

The fennel bulbs are getting bigger and are almost ready to harvest. Maybe another 2 weeks. They also won’t do well in the heat. I wonder if they will get as big as the ones in the grocery store..

About half of the tomatoes I previously planted are growing out of the top of the wall of waters and I need to take them off before it gets too difficult.

It’s been fun growing some early stuff. The bok choi, fava beans, fennel and lettuce are more cool season crops and will have to be harvested soon because of the heat. Probably all of them will be harvested BEFORE July.

I also have potatoes that are growing through the roof, strawberries that are being harvested and rhubarb that is ready to pick but will save that for other posts.

Fingerling Potatoes-May 7

The potatoes I planted Mar. 30 are doing great. Most of them came up with a few exceptions. Not bad for my first try. Of course the proof will be if I get some nice potatoes. Right now they are about 8 inches tall and when they hit 10 inches I will start the hilling process. Basically every ten inches or so I will add soil slowly filling the trench and burying the base of the potato plant I started with. I thought I would use straw for the hilling process but decided to stick with dirt because it is so dry here and I thought the straw would probably blow away anyways. Besides when I dig them out it will be like an Easter egg hunt! Since this is my first year at trying to grow potatoes, I am excited about what might happen.

Potatoes Were Planted on March 30th

Potatoes planted in deep rows-covered in straw

I’m trying a lot of new varieties of vegetables this year besides the varieties I always plant. I’ve never planted potatoes before but thought I’d give them a try this year. I actually planted the potatoes on March 30 and am just now getting around writing about them. I just couldn’t wait any longer. I put them in my best bed that is 12 inches deep with very rich fluffy soil. I figure even if it snowed (which of course it did), the ground wouldn’t freeze up 3-4 inches below the soil where the potatoes are. Plus I got the drip in place (even though it isn’t turned on yet) on the potatoes and covered them with straw to protect them from the snow. I planted all fingerlings-French, Russian Banana and a purple variety. They are not up yet but can’t wait till they are. A brand new crop for me.

Chitting and Growing Potatoes

A gardening friend of mine, Gene asked me to explain ‘Chitting Potatoes’. Why do we want to chit potatoes? It will knock off a couple of weeks to harvest time so you’ll get them sooner. Now I am new to this myself being a first year potato grower but basically it is ‘prespouting’ the potatoes to force healthy new sprouts before you plant the potato ‘seeds’. Potato seeds are not seeds at all but the actual potatoes.  We keep potatoes we want to eat in the dark so they won’t turn green and quite often they start to develop smaller flimsy white sprouts while in the dark but what you want is thicker healthier sprouts that are either green or purple. If you missed the opportunity to chit the potatoes, it’s ok to just plant them when the time is right. I’m going to try growing fingerlings-Russian Banana, Purple Peruvian and French fingerlings.

Here’s how to ‘chit ‘ them (sounds southern doesn’t it?!)

1. Get a couple of egg cartons so you can stand the potatoes with the pointed side down. The blunt side generally produces more sprouts so keep that side up. The egg cartons make it easy to support them this way. Sometimes there is no pointy side which you should then just look at your potato and put the side with the most ‘eyes’ or sprouts up.

2. Put them in a cool space that gets good light in your house and they will develop thick sprouts  in 2-4 weeks instead of those flimsy one that grow in the dark.

3. Plant them outdoors when the soil is 50°F or warmer. There are many ways to plant potatoes which you can research on the net but I’m going to dig a deep trench about 10 inches deep in heavily amended fluffy soil.

4. Place the presprouted (or chitted) potatoes with the sprouts up (the sprouts become the leaves) and bury them 4-6 inches deep depending on the size of the potato. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BREAK OFF THE SPROUTS. Spacing them 12 inches apart and rows 12-24 inches apart.

5. After the sprouts come up and they get leaves, I’m going to start filling straw around the plants instead of dirt to make access to the potatoes easier come harvest time. I hope they stay cool enough with the straw.

6. I should see the sprouts come up through the dirt in a couple of weeks. If it is still freezing at night, I will cover the plants with row cover.

7. Potatoes will start producing tubers when they flower.

8. Fingerling potatoes should be ready to harvest when the plants die back in about 90 days. Leave in the ground 2 weeks to harden off before harvesting.

For more information on growing and buying good potato seed go to: http://www.irisheyesgardenseeds.com/growers10.php