Sunday, May 16, 2010

Needing a Shower and a Massage

Another gorgeous day spent out in the garden. Other than gardening, I can't think of one single thing I would do that causes me to get so stinky and puts me so much in need of a therapeutic massage.

I mean gardening is HARD work. And I love it. It's creative, thought provoking, provides great exercise (hang on a sec while I walk off this cramp in my left thigh), and supplies us with the healthiest of food year round. But, my goodness, it surely does give a work out to muscles that tend to get soft and flabby. Still, I'd a gazillion times rather feel the tiredness I have at the end of a gardening day than a day spent in an emotionally unhealthy environment that leaves me with a different kind of tired. One that a good night's sleep won't help. Yup, I love gardening.

I didn't get any potatoes planted today, but I'm all ready to go for it tomorrow. Even have my row markers up. I don't know what's wrong with me (no unsolicited comments from the Peanut Gallery, please), but I want to try planting some of the potatoes under mulch again this year.

If you remember (like you don't have more important things to stash in your memory bank), last year I planted half our potatoes under mulch and half using the hilled-up dirt method. We got only half as many potatoes using the mulch method. (But they sure were clean.) Does one year's trial qualify as an accurate study?

I even have the bales of straw to use for mulch lined up against the fence line at the end of the field garden where I'm planting the potatoes this year. I keep reading of wonderful yields others have gotten using the mulch method. Why won't it work for me?

Yet it sure doesn't make sense to go to the work of planting potatoes under mulch if I'm only going to get a 50% harvest from the time, effort and garden space used. Plus, will that short us on potatoes to have to eat over the coming winter?

A mighty heavy decision to make, I know. Maybe a comfortable answer will come to me by planting time tomorrow. (Oooh-mmm.)

The above picture is a good illustration of why we have trouble getting apples to mature up here. You can see our trees are just now starting to leaf out. Nary a sign of a blossom yet. And it's already past the middle May.

My husband is the one who does the lion's share of work on the fruit trees, and he's determined (do we detect a tiny streak of stubborness here?) to find the right variety or way of raising our own apples. Pears, plums and cherries would be lovely, but we'd really like to be able to raise our own apples.

Crab apples grow very well in our area. No problem there. In the past I have made sauce and jelly from them but we'd really, really like to be able to grow a supply of eating/cooking apples. Ah well, never a lack of something to research and test out.

Okay, I must strip off these dirty, dirty clothes and get into the shower. Good thing tomorrow's wash day . . . these garden pants can just about stand alone.


Leigh said...

Loved this post. Hard work doesn't necessarily mean bad work. In the case of gardening, it can mean productive, meaningful, guaranteed-to-give-you-a-good-night's-sleep work.

I'll be interested in how the straw works for your potatoes. I'm leery of trying straw ever since they year I used oat straw for my rabbits. It later went into the garden but it was full of seeds! Yup, I was plagued with oat grass after that. I love the straw idea though and really need to see someone having a good experience with it. I've got my fingers crossed for you!

Erin said...

I love my straw potato cages, but I don't need an abundance of potatoes since we can't store them in our climate for the winter and there are no basements here. If I lived where you do, I agree that I would want as much yield off of any root vegetables as I could get since they could be stored for later use. I would use whatever got you the best results before (although no doubt it is the most back-breaking way of doing it)!!

Mama Pea said...

Hey, Leigh - Ha! Oat straw . . . been there, done that. I used it for mulching the aisles between my double rows of strawberries last year. I had such a healthy growth of oats, I could have harvested it. Frustrating as all heck.

Here it is the start of a new gardening day and I STILL haven't made the decision as to whether to go with the potatoes under mulch or not. Sigh.

Hi, Erin - Approximately how tall are your potato cages? And what's the diameter of them? I'm considering adding a cage of potatoes (and straw) to the experiment.

And, yes, hilling-up potatoes is NOT one of my favorite garden jobs! (Hush up, Mama Pea, it's good exercise for you!)

Erin said...

I have 3 different types of cages going this year. One is a 3 ft tall, 4 ft wide section of black drainage pipe and I think I put a dozen tubers in there, the others are all constructed out of leftover utility fencing from chicken wire to vinyl fencing, all about 3 ft wide by 3 1/2 ft tall. I basically loosen the soil at the bottom, throw several inches of compost in, throw the potatoes in and just keep hilling with straw. I have better yield with the fingerlings in the cages than I have with the small reds.

Gelfling said...

We are trying to grow taters in bags under straw this year for the first time, I'm nervous as heck about what our yields will be like but it was either that or pay lots of moo-lah for the top soil needed to fill up the bags as the plants grow. So far the plants are thriving but who know what harvest time will bring??

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Erin - Thanks for the info on your "cages." I'm gonna do a little experimenting with growing a few taters using your method this year. Wish me luck!

Hey, Gelfling - Thanks for commenting! I just checked out your blog and your potato growing system is one I've not seen before. Looks very interesting and I'll be interested to see what kind of a yield you get. When we don't have all the soil we need (been there, done that), we have to be creative, huh?

Erin said...

I remembered another blogger that did a nice combination raised bed/cage for her potatoes, I wish I could find a bigger pic on her blog of the potato bed but if you go to the link below, in the top pic is her daughter and a chicken, look on the right is a small part of it - she just basically used a raised bed and surrounded the entire thing with chicken wire and fills it with straw, so she is probably getting a better yield than my small cages!

Erin said...

ok I'm back again! Better pic of it at ..... look for her dog laying in front of it!

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Erin - Thank you so much for steering me to the raised bed/tomato cage! I'm going to try it! I have an extra bed or two this year so all I have to do is round up some chicken wire or some such and I'm gonna do it. Exciting! Thank you, thank you!