A store-bought potato is a mere shadow of its home-grown counterpart. I recommend growing fingerling and waxy varieties as these are the most delicious and most expensive at the market. If you tend to purchase these types of potatoes this might just be a crop where a small-scale planting can save you some money. A pound of seed potatoes will cost you around $5 and will ideally yield around 10 pounds of mature tubers.
What a Potato Prefers
- Season:A cool season crop; hot soil (around 26oC/80oF) causes plants to stop producing tubers
- Sun: Full blast
- Moisture:Well-drained and consistently moist
- Soil Fertility: Mid-range feeders; will grow in moderate fertility but will flourish in rich soil
- Soil pH:Acidic
- Other Soil Characteristics: Loose and free of stones
- What to Plant: Seed potatoes
- Spacing: 12 inches between seed pieces; 2 - 3 feet between rows
- Planting Depth: 1 inch
How to Grow Some Potatoes…
It’s early in the morning. The cup of coffee in your hand is delicious and helps to insulate your hands from the pleasantly crisp morning air. You stroll among the rows upon rows of thriving vegetable plants that you have helped bring into existence feeling proud of this most magnificent accomplishment. You hook a thumb through a belt loop and draw a long breath to puff out your chest. Your garden is positively thriving. You look fondly at the dew drops clinging to small leaves of lettuce and… what the #*!$ is uglying-up those leaves!?! A perfect morning RUINED (well maybe not ruined but no longer quite as perfect).
How to Prevent Pests from Spoiling a Perfect Morning
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts about growing lettuce, it is a fairly easy crop to grow and isn’t all that prone to pest issues. The two pests that I have had some trouble with are aphids and slugs. What follows are some simple ways that you might deal with aphids. Advice for slugs coming soon (this is turning into a serious tome). As with all pest-control issues try to learn to accept a few pests in the garden. You can only hope to MANAGE pest populations; eradication is unnecessary and often an unrealistic goal.
On Monday I wrote about growing head lettuce. Here are a few more details on how to grow it to cut as greens…
Growing lettuce to cut and use as a greens mix is a great option for several reasons. Where it takes seventy days or so to grow a head, baby lettuces are ready in as few as thirty days. After you cut that lettuce back and eat a supremely sublime salad, the greens will grow again, not once, not twice, but at least thrice. The flavour of baby lettuces is far more mild than the mature version (and that may or may not be an advantage) though you do sacrifice a bit of crunch. Finally, a bed of baby lettuce is a beautiful thing!
Sure, iceberg and romaine are both crunchy and do little to offend the palate but your salad frontiers need not end here. There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce and nearly all are easy to grow. These varieties range in flavour from mild to sweet to bitter, and in colour from pale green to the blood red. My favorites include “Brune d’Hiver” (Reddish-brown butterhead), “Forellenschluss”! (A speckled romaine) and “Mascara” (a purple-red leaf variety with deeply-divided, wavy leaves).
Lettuce is easy to grow is thus a great starter crop with which to hone your skills. It prefers cool to moderate temperatures but otherwise doesn’t ask too much of you the gardener. Like almost all vegetables it prefers a well drained soil and consistent moisture; however, unlike other crops lettuce will tolerate a fair bit of shade (though it does best in full to partial sun).