July 18, 2013
I’m sure all of you seasoned gardeners who read my blog just shake your heads at many of my ‘revelations’ 😉 I have neighbors who are still skeptical (to say the least) about the BTE method. I am admittedly a novice gardener. I do not claim to know anything but I LOVE learning every day!
If you have just started reading this blog, let me give you a background on our potato patch. We saw an area of the property that was at the bottom of a slope and seemed to get more rain than other areas. Even though this area was far away from the rest of our garden, we decided the moisture aspect was worth it – we went ahead and covered the area with cardboard and 8″ of mulch back in February.
When your patch is covered in mulch, you do not need to hill. However, the plants (that looked great) were starting to get 12″ tall (when most people would hill) so I went ahead and covered them with more mulch.
Many people are skeptical of the BTE method because tree mulch/bark robs soil of nitrogen. However, when the mulch is not tilled in, this does not happen. You just rake the mulch back, plant the seeds in the soil, (I then sprinkle some mulch over the soil to retain moisture) and as the seed sprouts through the mulch, it is undisturbed.
However, when I covered the existing plants with more mulch (the patch was so big, I didn’t carefully place mulch around the bases), I guess I disturbed whatever ecosystem was going on because the plants yellowed (robbed nitrogen) and the potato bugs (unseen until now) descended 😦
Most of the plants in the patch died. I went in and started digging up potatoes as we needed them because the plants were dying and because I thought it was ‘time’. I had been reading that after 3 months, to go ahead and dig up the potatoes. Paul Gautschi says leave them until September. I am impatient. I have (hopefully) learned my lesson.
I dug up most of the patch, which, by now, was also overrun by bermuda grass 😛 and then I took a break from digging up the potatoes because we had other things going on.
During this break two things happened:
- It rained like CRAZY (the theme for 2013 in NC) and I noticed that there was another place right next to our main garden, where we are able to keep the weeds out, closer to the house, that becomes a puddle when it rains. BINGO! We have decided that whenever we move the chunnel & tractor, we are going to make that area the potato patch for 2014!(future potato patch)
- The potato plants started to perk back up! Bugs disappeared! And they started blooming! (only one had bloomed previously) They look gorgeous now!
I just needed to leave the potato plants alone! PATIENCE!!! It’s what I need! So now the question is: Do I dig up the rest of the potatoes as we need them and buy new seeds for next year? Or do I save the rest of these potatoes and make them my seed potatoes for next year? I see positives for both but one is that Paul suggests to plant your potatoes in September (let them sit over winter – it makes them more hardy) and I doubt I will be able to find seed potatoes for sale around here in the fall. Hmmmm. What do you think?
I’m linking to Simple Lives Thursday. I learn so much through many of those links and maybe someone can learn something from my incessant impatience 🙂