Saturday, July 11, 2015

Underground Mysteries

I've been growing potatoes for a few years and no matter how many times I see the green plant up top and root around underneath and come up with potatoes, I'm still amazed every time.

I have an old black wheelbarrow in the greenhouse where I threw in a couple of potatoes a few years ago.  I like getting the potatoes but sometimes they interfere when I want to plant something else in there.

In the fall, I decided to comb through the entire thing and take out every last potato so I could use it this spring for something else.  We had that wicked winter that killed anything that might have been hanging on in the greenhouse, so I was sure potatoes were a thing of the past.

Imagine my surprise when a new potato plant came up a few months ago.  This one was kind of small and I don't remember it flowering, so I figured it was a dud.


As I was getting supper together the other night, I thought I'd go out and see what I could find.  I was amazed when two really big potatoes popped out along with a few small ones. 

I treat my potatoes very poorly.  I ignore them and don't keep mounding up the soil around them as they grow taller.  I dig around and disturb the roots before they make potatoes and I take them when they are pretty small.  And somehow, they continue to do what I want.

I'm not a huge fan of potatoes so I don't grow them in bulk to store for the winter.  I don't really care if they grow or not and this neglect is probably why they thrive!

Onions, on the other hand, I totally get.  I can see their tops from the very beginning and it's easy to brush some of the soil aside to see how big they are getting.  For the past couple of years, I've been growing onions but this seems to be the best group ever.

There are tons, probably over 100.  Last year, I grew about 200 and harvested more than I could count and they lasted me almost all winter.  I do a mix of red, white and yellow.  They come from Dixondale Farms and they have a group of those 3 mixed for people like me that don't care too much about the particulars of onion varieties.

These take up  2 long rows in one garden and about 10 feet in another.  They are simple to grow and can be fairly close to each other.  When the tops fall over, it's time to harvest.  My harvest is pulling them out, laying them on trays of newspaper in the greenhouse, out of the sun, and covering them with newspaper, hoping they will dry properly and not rot.

Last winter, some mice got into them toward the end because I didn't do anything to prevent them getting in.  I didn't realize they'd look for them.  I'll have to be strategic this year because once they find something, they come back trying to find more and I'm not willing to share!

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