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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Potatoes from nowhere

Risa has been across the creek in the recent dry spell, mowing some green manure and pasture and lifting potatoes.

Mostly we grow potatoes in the garden beds along with everything else, in a hodgepodge "arrangement" often called polyculture. But last year there were lots and lots of potatoes, and Risa did not find them all, so at planting time this year there were too many to plant, both because we didn't manage to eat much more than half of what we'd stored, and volunteers were coming up in the beds. What to do?

Back where she used to work, they got in a hundred new computers, and called her up to come and get the empty boxes. Aha!

Risa flattened and spread the boxes on a disused space in the west "pasture," spread leaves and straw on the boxes, spread chitted potatoes on the straw, and heaped more straw, in humps, over the potatoes. It's a ways away from nearly everything else, so she knew she wouldn't be irrigating much, and said "good luck" to the new spud patch and moved on to the next item on her list.

Come September and the threat of rain, and she remembered the spuds and went to have a look. A few of the chits, perhaps a higher proportion than in the garden, had failed to crop at all. The rest produced a mixed bag of tiny, small, medium and decent-sized potatoes, plus several giants.

It wouldn't be much to write home about, except that, yes, there's more than she started with; besides which this crop represents little more than no labor from a patch of sod, beneath which the soil is very stony. As she raked over the bed with her potato hook, she found much of the cardboard intact, and beneath it, lots of moss not quite dead yet. Very few vegetables could have made so much of such a new and sour spot. It didn't even attract earthworms, something cardboard does almost anywhere you put it.

But the potatoes grew! If  those in the garden do no better than these, we should still have a very decent spud year, with plenty to have over the winter and plenty to plant. If you find yourself with extra sprouted potatoes on hand and a full garden, you can try this. Amaze your friends! Influence people! -- with your mysterious "Potatoes from Nowhere."

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