Monday, May 25, 2015

Planting Begins Outside - Potatoes

I'm not quite finished my planting plan yet but it should be all finished today. Which is good because we're starting with our cool season crops. The weather is going to be very warm today, 26 C or about 80 F. And while that may not seem very warm to most of you, none of us have yet adjusted to the heat. Remember, it was only recently that I was complaining to you about all the snow :)

Potatoes are going in maybe today too and that'll be great because it's supposed to be a bit of a wet week, but not cold. The cooler weather means if I take the risk of planting green beans that there's a good likelihood they won't sprout if the soil is cool and wet but sometimes it's worth the risk, and sometimes there are ways around problems like this. I'm sure you've seen farmers planting things in rows that are little ridges in the soil. Well the reason we do that is so that the seeds are slightly raised inside the soil. The raised soil warms up faster and doesn't hold as much water so while the seeds are getting going in the wet Spring weather they have a much better chance of sprouting and not rotting in the ground. So for the home gardener it's also possible to get a week or two jump on the weather by copying what the farmers do and planting seeds that like warmer soil in ridges. These would include beans and corn. Corn is particularly susceptible to soil temperature. Too cool and it won't sprout at all.

Another major consideration is frost dates. It may be 26 C this afternoon but if you've read my blog for a while you'll know that the temperatures can fluctuate wildly in Canada and we could easily get frost next week. We plant and schedule with this in mind. If I get my potatoes started in the ground, they won't actually be sending little green shoots out of the ground for another week or 10 days. They stay protected under the earth while they send out roots and get going. One other way that I use to get a little jump on my planting out of doors is to use a mulch. A mulch is basically any covering over the plant and/or soil. Most common mulches are straw, hay, compost, wood chips etc. These are all good soil builders as they'll break down into the soil over time and add to the humus level which increases available nutrients and water holding capacity, especially in our sandy soil.

Regardless of all the best laid plans, it all comes down to the weather and the seeds. We have to get them together at some point. So once Jordan is home from school we'll get planting potatoes and see if we can get a few hundred feet of rows in before supper time. In 2 weeks I'll side dress with compost and manure to make sure the growing plants are getting enough of what they need to stay healthy. We do practice hilling so when the tops of the plant reach 12 inches tall I'll pile soil up around them and mulch them with straw to keep the soil underneath more moist, to protect the developing tubers from teh sun and to help stop the  We're going to plant, Emarosa, Green Mountain, Russet (netted gem) and some Purple Chief. That should give us some nice market potatoes as well as storage ones. I'll post later and let you know how it went, unless the black fly carry me off or suck me dry.

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