April 14, 2018 · Food

Taters and zucchini

I'm a huge amateur when it comes to gardening and farming. I basically learned what a hoe is used for yesterday—that's the skill level I'm operating at. However, I find myself in one of the most verdant areas of the country, where the struggle is usually to keep things from growing rather than encouraging them to grow. So I'm trying my hand at a little vegetable garden.

Picked these up at my local Lowe's. They didn't have a huge selection, but since this is amateur hour, I wasn't being too picky. The blue potatoes look exotic (and match my political leanings!), and I believe the russets will make good maxed/scalloped potatoes.

I planted the potatoes on the third of March, largely following this delightful Minnesotan's guide. I had some extra seed potatoes, so some of the holes got two for good measure. The gentleman in the video suggested burying them deeper than what's considered conventional so that I don't have to constantly hill the soil up around the plants as they grow. I planted them about eight or nine inches down, covered them up, and waited.

We had lots of crazy weather between then and now. Tons of rain, several frosts, even some snow. I made the mistake of not marking where I'd planted the potatoes, and so I was struggling to separate the burgeoning weeds from the potato sprouts. I was starting to give up hope, thinking that perhaps because I'd buried them too deeply they had rotted. After all, Minnesota's soil is a lot drier than southwestern Virginia's, and there was no guarantee that his method would translate well to a wetter climate. I was just about to dig one up to see what had become of them when I noticed four of the potatoes sprouting! The photo above shows some of the blue taters, and you can see that even the leaves and stems are tinged blue.

I went out today to do some maintenance on the garden bed and found several of the russets sprouting as well. It's been a much-needed lesson in patience. I'm looking forward to giving away lots of potatoes to family and friends later in the summer.

I also planted some multi-colored carrots at the same time as the potatoes, but none of them came up; I may have planted too early, or didn't cover the seeds well enough. Emboldened by the success with the potatoes, though, I bought some zucchini seeds today on a whim and planted them in wide, tall hills as recommended on the package. I've also got some cucumber seeds to plant, but I want to clear out another small garden bed for those.

This year is mostly just about learning how to garden effectively. I hope to plant a dozen or more different veggies next year!