It’s time to get super busy!! We’re working on getting the front garden in and decided that the potatoes in the far garden just aren’t going to come up any more than they have, so we’ll have to plant more. We’ve never planted them in the front garden before because it’s always still sopping wet when the other is dry enough to work (the front garden is in the flats, far garden on the crest of a hill). Now, for some background on how the potato planting went this year, I’ll start there.
The garden was just barely dry enough to work, but my husband was determined to get them in the ground in the dark of the moon. I’m sure there’s logic behind this folk wisdom, but I think if conditions are wonderful at that time, go for it. If not, wait for the ground to be better and scrap the moon sign. I also know of an old tradition of farmers cutting their trenches, laying comfrey leaves along the bottom, and setting their potato pieces (cut the whole potato into pieces, each having at least 2 root starts, called eyes, preferably more) right on top the leaves. As the leaves rot under the ground the potato apparently gets everything it needs for a good start, then fertilize again right before the potato blooms open with comfrey tea. Having this knowledge I advised he wait to plant as the comfrey (I grow it for medicinal reasons) was just barely popping out of the ground. Stands to reason, right? If you’re using those leaves and it’s too early to have them it’s too early to plant. He didn’t find it to be a very solid argument (probably because he knows I hate everything about growing potatoes and thought I was just trying to get out of it), so at his persistence I rushed to the store and grabbed 50# to get them in the ground before it rained again and we missed that moon sign. Then we waited for the potatoes to sprout (well, we didn’t like sit out there for weeks staring…) Meanwhile the comfrey grew to a good leaf size, sent up shoots and started to flower.
So, forward to a few days ago. The potatoes are just not coming up across the whole center of
garden. What’s up is already a decent size. It’s time to quit waiting for more to pop. We had already planned to plant the front garden today (it’s a bit delayed b/c the tractor had to blow a bearing in the middle of plowing, then we had to wait for parts, then my wonderfully gifted husband put it back together). When the middle of last week he suggested putting potatoes in that garden, also, (what? In the light of the moon?!) I said okay. In the back of my mind I was already sneaking comfrey into those rows. Then he asked me if I wanted to lay down my comfrey leaves. Then he said he said some more brush he wanted to burn over where we were going to plant them…
So now, it’s the Great Comfrey Experiment 2015: Planting solely based on moon signs with commercial fertilizers (husband) VS. letting the comfrey tell you (whew! that’s me!) VS . wood ash
So far Moon Signs are in the lead, I’ll be-it sparce. Keep in mind that we planted them a month and half ago…
Here’s how the new rows (comfrey and wood ash) were prepared:
For the ash row, my (once again…very clever) husband drug a fire across the garden plot, via an old piece of corn crib (kind of like really stiff fencing) and chain. (I don’t know why I keep insisting on including things that need a disclaimer, but MAKE SURE your chain is plenty long enough to accommodate a safe distance between the fire and pulling tractor…if you all die from an explosion who will plant your garden?)
Wait a day or two then till the ash/cooled coals into the garden.
For the comfrey row, I’m pretty sure my husband was trying to sabotage me. As I said, my comfrey has already started flowering. That means that a lot of the plants nutrients are being tied up right now. I didn’t want to put the stemmy part (this wouldn’t be an issue if we would have just waited for the leaves to come up good and planted our potatoes then) or the flowers in (they say that comfrey seed is rarely viable..it spreads by root…but I have a whole new patch of comfrey I didn’t plant that would disagree) so I was getting just the leaves and putting them in the wagon to use, knowing they weren’t as potent as I wanted. He snuck me when I went in to finish dinner and grabbed whole stems and everything along with my leaves
and laid them in the rows!! If he has a garden full of comfrey (and believe me, once you have it you always will) I don’t want to hear it!!! Plus, I don’t know what the stems will do as far as rotting down, or just maintaining too much moisture and rotting my potatoes…again, sabotage I say!!
So if you’ve never planted potatoes it’s pretty easy, all except for the back-breaking work of it all. Over the years we’ve made a few small investments to make it all easier. So step 1, dig your trench (either in your plot that has had fertilizer tilled in, or lay comfrey down in the trench) We use a plow designed for potatoes that we found, of all places, at an old car lot.
Step Two: Place your potatoes (cut into pieces with at least two eyes, preferably more) in the bottom of the trench, then step on them to sort of secure them.
If it seems like the kids aren’t helping…the fact that these two are cooperating with each other is super helpful!!
Step Three: Cover your trenches back in! this year we got fancy, but someone usually just grabs a rake! Now we just have to wait and see (me win!).