This year we are growing some potatoes. Potatoes have long been grown in Potter County, the home of Camp Potato and Potato City. We selected fingerlings for our garden, and are planting enough to hopefully bring some to market. Fingerlings are narrow finger-shaped potatoes used for roasting, boiling, baking and salads. These potatoes are heritage varieties that mean the varieties are at least 50 to 100 years old. Our plan is to begin with 60 pounds of seed potatoes for this growing season.
Last week we began planting. The first task in planting potatoes was to dig row trenches about 8 to 12 inches deep. To do this trenching, we used a potato plow. Its special shape makes a nice deep trench by lifting the soil and then piling the displaced soil into ridges on each side of trench. This labor-saving tool is considerably easier than hand digging with a shovel or hoe.
Once the trenches are plowed, we use a potato hoe to level and flatten the bottom of trench. At this point, we removed the large stones and broke-up the large soil clumps to provide a nice planting bed for the seed tubers. With this done, we applied fertilizer in the bottom of the trench. This type of dry fertilizer pours easy from a plastic watering can with an extra long spout. We just follow the recommended amount per bag label instruction (10# per 100 foot). The plastic watering can holds about #10 of fertilizer and long narrow spout allows the dry fertilizer to pour at a rate to distribute the desired amount with a couple of passes along to row. We just walk and pour.
The next step was to place the seed tubers into the trenched bed about a foot apart. We were supplied with “B” size tubers, which were intentionally graded on the small side for seed use, as they do not need cutting. The tubers have started to sprout, so we carefully placed them so that the sprouts are pointed upward. To cover the potatoes, we raked the loose, fine soil from the right side of trench to cover the seed tubers with about 2 or 3 inches of soil. We are careful not to allow any heavy soil clumps or stones to set upon the tubers. The soil ridge on the left side of trench will be used for “hilling” up the potatoes plants when the plants are about a foot tall.
We planted 30# pounds of seed and it took us about 5 hours. We have 30# of seed potatoes left to plant. We hope that you enjoyed the photograph essay showing the planting process.
Here are the field notes. Planted 3 rows of seed potatoes on May 13, 2011:
1) Home Garden Plot 1, Row E planted with 10# of Russian Banana.
2) Home Garden Plot 1, Row D planted with 10# of Rose Finn Apple.
3) Home Garden Plot 1, Row C planted with 10# of Swedish Peanut.
Applied dry fertilizer directly in rows: 10# of Fertrell Super N per 80 feet row.
Equipment used: 1951 Ferguson TO-20 with 1X Potato Plow Implement, Potato Hoe and Gallon-sized Plastic Watering Can. It’s only fitting that we use a vintage tractor to plant the heritage potatoes.
Seed source: Wood Prairie Farm, Bridgewater, ME