Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Planting to avoid weeding

I can't believe how much the lettuce has grown.  The lettuce bed seemed to go from small little plants to full lush lettuces overnight.  I love the look of the lettuce, and one of my favorite parts of the lettuce bed is that I haven't had to weed it--not even once.  There are a couple weeds here and there, but nothing like some of my other beds.

When I planted out the lettuces, I was careful to give them room to grow, but I planted them as close as possible (roughly 6" spacing).  This allowed me to plant a large number of plants in a small area, and the spacing allowed the leaves and roots of the plants to out-compete weeds. This also means that as I start harvesting the lettuce, I'll be giving the remaining lettuce a little extra room to spread out.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Planting potatoes

This post is actually a bit late.  I planted potatoes on March 9th this year.  But, it's still not too late to plant some yourself!

Last year, I planted 1 lb of yukon gold seed potatoes.  Like many great garden discoveries, this was completely unplanned.  I saw some seed potatoes at the local hardware store, and I decided that I wanted them.  I didn't even have room in the veggie garden, and these potatoes were planted in my front flower bed! It turned out that this was a great decision, because the potatoes did really well!

This year, we've planted 10 lbs of yukon golds, 2 lbs of red pontiac, and 2 lbs of kennebecs. (We got a bit more ambitious this year!)

Planting seed potatoes isn't very hard, depending on your method.
Seed potatoes must have an 'eye' to grow a plant.
First, you want to pick a nice sunny spot in your garden.  You can plant the seed potatoes whole, or you can cut them into smaller pieces, so long as each potato piece has an eye.  I chose to cut the potatoes so I get more plants per pound of seed.  I cut each seed potato into 2-3 parts, being sure that each part was large and included an eye.
Seed potatoes, cut and ready to be planted.
For the gold and red potatoes, I'm using a trench method.  Basically, you just dig a shallow trench, plant your seed potatoes (eye up) in the trench, and then cover them with a couple inches of soil.  As the plants grow, you continue to hill up along the sides of the plant.  I thought this method was pretty easy, but then again I wasn't the one who tilled the soil and dug the trenches (many thanks to the Mr!).
Potato trenches.
For the kennebecs, I'm using a scatter method.  In this method, you just lay the seed potatoes on the ground and cover with mulch.  As they grow, you continue covering them with mulch.  Kennebecs are supposed to grow well in the container method, and can yield a large amount of potatoes by growing vertically.  Even though I'm not using a container, I plan on mulching the Kennebecs a lot to see if I can get more out of them this way.

I planted all of the potatoes 18" apart to allow plenty of room for growth.

I purchased my seed potatoes at Sow True Seeds, and they have more information on growing potatoes on their website.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Harvest Totals: February 2012

Well, the last eggs were laid and the final count is in for February.  We harvested 8 lbs of vegetables (collards, kale and carrots), and 81 eggs for a rough value of $45.  The chickens were slackers this month--down a dozen eggs from the previous month.  I think this might have something to do with June going broody.  But we picked up their slack by harvesting a few more pounds of vegetables, so we improved a little from the last month.

Things are pretty slow still--given that it is winter, that is to be expected.  But I'm expecting a large increase in our production in a couple of months. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and beans are pretty big crops in the garden.
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