How to Plant Potatoes, and Other Things Like That

How is it April already? Seriously, didn’t 2016 just start? Spring is already here, and I am just now starting to think about our garden. So here’s my first garden update for 2016.

I was enjoying the lovely sunshine outside yesterday, when I realized that my blueberry plants were starting to get flower buds.

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Then I noticed that my pie cherry tree was starting to bloom.

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And then I saw strawberry blossoms…

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And so I promptly realized, it was high time I started working on my garden. When all the plants around you are acting like it’s Spring, then it’s probably time for me to start acting like it too.

So, today, I dug up my garden.

Digging up a garden that has sat dormant all winter is work. Not necessarily HARD work (I can think of things that are harder), but it is work regardless. But thinking ahead to the rewards that I hope to enjoy this Summer makes it all worth it.

So to help fuel that dream, before I picked up my shovel and hoe, I picked up my trowel, and started some seeds.

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Good potting soil is a must for seedlings. Certainly you can use soil from your garden box, but if you really want to help your starts along, go ahead and get the potting soil. I like using these starter pots because you can plant them right into the soil! That’s right, these pots are biodegradable.

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I started 4 pots each of beefsteak tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, and watermelon. (I’ll share more about the asparagus next time) YUM! Let’s see if I actually succeed in getting any watermelon this year; last year the bugs munched mine (insert sad face here). Anybody have any tips on keeping pests away from watermelon and cantaloupe?

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Once I was done with that, I put them all on a cookie sheet (#repurpose, anyone?) and brought them in. If you’re planting along with me, don’t forget to water them. Go ahead and soak them; a good initial watering is essential.

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And don’t forget to label them. If your seed packets are empty, you can certainly use them. However, if you are intending to keep the seeds for future planting, then you’ll need to put them in a dark, dry place to store. An easy way to label is with masking tape and a bright, colorful marker.

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Ta-da! Now set them next to a sunny window.

Then it was time to go back out to those garden boxes.

This is what they looked like to start with:

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I had already gone out a couple weeks ago to turn the box on the right, but the one on the left was virtually untouched since last fall (I had weeded it a few days ago, but nothing else).

During the process of shoveling the dirt, I discovered a few goodies:

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I wonder who put those there?… ; )

I also discovered that I had neglected to dig up my potato crop enough last year. A FEW (*cough* 6 *cough*) apparently had remained in the ground (oops), and were starting to produce shoots. So, rather than toss them, I decided I’d replant them. We’ll get back to them.

After giving it a good turning with my shovel, I took my hoe and chopped up those big pieces.

Now back to those potatoes. Planting potatoes really is quite simple. You need potato starts (with eyes on them), soil, a shovel, and patience.

Start with a trench about 6in deep. Potatoes will need a double covering (initial covering at planting, and a second covering several weeks in when they have decent foliage), so you need to give a little extra room for the soil.

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Drop in those potatoes, making sure the eyes are on top, and that they are at least 2 in apart from one another.

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Then, cover them with about 4in of soil.

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Don’t forget to water them! (I did, but thankfully remembered and went back out)

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Once that was done, I moved on to the second box and dug it up. I didn’t hoe it out today, since I want to give it a second turning (turning the soil allows the nutrients to blend together, and also helps kill off weeds).

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So that was all for today. My next garden update will probably be in a few weeks, when I get my compost. I may even have some first plantings to share! What fun!

What are you growing in your garden this year?

Just for fun, here are a couple more pictures from our backyard:

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